Improving productivity in cross functional remote teams

Improving productivity in cross functional remote teams

Cross functional teams unlike traditional teams are made of people with different skills brought together to accomplish a project or launch a new product for the organization. Cross functional teams require high level of organization, communication, negotiation, resources, and leadership to achieve milestones. Many organizations often worry about conflict within these teams as they are assembled by breaking down various existing team silos.

Research by Harvard University also indicates that 75% of the cross functional teams are dysfunctional owing to factors like mismanagement and lack of clear goals. It is not surprising that what are supposed to be highly productive teams often end up dysfunctional given that they are harder to manage and build.

In remote environment, cross functional teams are even more challenging. As there are no more meeting rooms with white boards and snacks, cross functional teams are left to fend for their own resources to collaborate remotely. While technology facilitates the communication, it cannot facilitate collaboration. Organizations need to be proactive in their efforts to improve collaboration in cross functional remote teams. Here are a few things employers can do:

Emphasize team building

It is common for employers and executives to get nervous about productivity right after assembling a team. One common misconception around cross functional teams is that they can produce better results just because they have different skill sets. However, to produce those results they need to get along well together. Ideally an introductory lunch, dinner or team building activity would serve as the ice breaker. These activities can also be conducted virtually for remote teams.

Organize and Communicate

As each of these team members bring a different expertise on board it is important to organize information and be clear about the goals and deadlines. Communicating regularly can help clear any misconceptions in early stages. Plan for regular virtual meetings and share the progress made on the project. Teams that are clear, organized, and communicative are highly productive.

Conflict resolution

As mentioned earlier, it is easy for conflicts to crop up in cross functional teams. Resolving the conflict as early as possible helps in preventing the worse. Instead of sweeping conflict under the carpet, face it head on. Teams that face conflict have healthy and open communication. In a remote setting, let the team members take lead on conflict resolution. Let the team members come to an agreement rather than following a top down approach. Also make conscious efforts to build lasting bonds among team members. This will foster a collaborative and engaging environment for cross functional teams.

If cross functional teams are engaged, they can be highly productive and accomplish the most difficult tasks. Likewise, if dysfunctional can incur heavy costs to a company.

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