Team Session Won’t Cut It Anymore

When team discussion is not enough, it’s time for cross-team input.

Understandably, for marketers, focusing on generating compelling and creative content for campaigns to deliver the company’s values and messages to the public is inevitably a challenging task. Obviously, completing such duty cannot be done alone. Marketing manager depends heavily on the diverse creativity, ideas and insights from all members during team sessions.

But here’s the catch. Team session, more than often, serves more as a psychological medium to fulfill social need rather than a creative platform to share viewpoints and opinions. Some introverted members might be less inclined to speak in the wake of overshadowed by more opinionated members. Moreover, within such “ostensibly” harmonious working environment, if a clash surfaced, regardless how small, chances are it would likely lead up to a devastating consequence in the end.

My advice? Avoid team session and concentrate on cross-team collaboration instead. If talents from a variety of departments and teams within a company gathered and put their heads together, the likelihood of obtaining wider insights, fresher perspectives and better innovation is higher. Still, in order to ensure a successful cross-functional team, an organized, transparent, and flexible management is crucial.

Here are some of the tips to handle an efficient cross-functional team.

Clear Vision

Regardless how harmonious a group of people appears in public, conflicts and misunderstanding might still rise, especially when working with people from different departments. The lack of accountability and communication aside, defining a clear goal and expectation is important to ensure that everyone in the department is on the same page, in terms of accomplishing tasks, not only on team level but also individual level. You could outline clear overall goals and purposes including the roles each member are expected to partake in order to achieve the objectives, the allowed budgets, schedules and deadlines to be met, and of course, signed agreement from all members.

Articulate Communication

The most crucial element for a successful cross-functional team is excellent communication. An organized communication strategy between members of departments improves team performance and helps avoiding misunderstandings that could screw up relationships between departments. That is to say, despite the clear advantage of having a face-to-face regular meeting, if the expectation is in no way achievable, then there are plenty of online tools ready to assist in this kind of situation or, if possible, a spontaneous brainstorming session could also be set up. Besides, having a centralized communication will also warranty that the members are up-to-date to every progress each department is making.

Rewards is Effective

Naturally when a new project kicked off, excitement usually filled the atmosphere. But to maintain that momentum of the early days throughout the entire duration of the project can be quite a struggle for all members, especially when there are obstacles and challenges that could potentially affect the success of the project. To keep members inspired and motivated, sometimes, it’s good to show recognition and give rewards to appreciate the members involved whenever a milestone is achieved. Acknowledgement of hard work and collaborative effort can spread not just between team leaders but also between members of different departments. With this scenario, peer recognition will lead to stronger bonds between members and genuine harmony within company.

Flexibility is Necessary

One of the greatest benefits from working together with other departments, apart from building networks and promoting teamwork, is cultivating innovation. When professionals from different backgrounds and area of expertise gathered together, you could easily expect a productive working environment, which in turn, could possibly lead to brand new ideas and game-changing insights. But, sometimes when ideas bumped into each other, tensions might surface, especially when ego is thrown in the middle of it. To avoid such circumstances, having an open-minded mindset and knowing how to be flexible are fundamental. Sometimes you have to step back in order to win. And in this case, winning is not defined by having the greatest idea or being the smartest in the room, but by working together to accomplish tasks to achieve the objectives set by the company.

Individual and Team are One and the Same

Yes, while working in a team, teamwork is usually emphasized regularly to assure harmony and constructive working environment. However, when you are focusing too much on the team as a whole, it’s easy to fail to pay attention to each individual that comprised the actual team, which as a result, can lead to the failure of the entire organization. Giving enough attention to each person inside the cross-functional team whether in the forms of praises or bonuses, could encourage them to work harder in creating innovative and team-oriented idea, get better acquainted with different skills and weaknesses of the members, and hence set out clear expectations from each person, as well as weed out any counterproductive parties.

End Point: Effective Cross-Department Team is Achievable

To sum up, despite the advice I mentioned, I have to stress that having a continuous awareness of what happens in your company is the most crucial factor to ensure a successful collaboration of a cross-functional team.

Integration of information should be distributed wisely with respect to each member’s roles. But perhaps the best thing a leader can do when it comes to nurturing effective cross team collaboration is to paint the actual process of collaboration as a great experience in and of itself.

Currently based in Shenzhen, China, Folke Engholm is a result driven entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Viral Access, Asia’s leading Micro-KOL company.