A one-size fits all approach is, to say the least, outdated, and so are teams that follow this approach. To create efficient, growth-oriented teams, you need a diverse set of skills, and cross-functional collaborations provide you with just that opportunity. Being one of the growing teamwork trends that impact businesses, such teams bring new ideas, varying perspectives, and a broader skill set to the table, leading to greater adaptability and fostering innovation.
With how fast technology is developing, so are consumer expectations, and no functional team can respond to these changes quickly. Cross-functional teams are a great way to deliver what consumers are asking for in a short amount of time. A Deloitte survey reported that 83% of digitally maturing companies in their survey use cross-functional teams, compared with 71% of developing companies on the digital maturity spectrum and 55% of early-stage organizations.
Suppose you’re looking for effective marketing strategies to drive sustainable and scalable growth. In that case, integrating cross-functional teams into your business model can be a great starting point to ensure a seamless customer experience. In this guide, I’ll give you a breakdown of how you can elevate your growth marketing strategy with the help of cross-functional teams. Let’s get into it!
1. Outline your goals
Cross-functional teams are usually best for solving complex problems that a single-function team can’t handle or achieving ambitious, long-term goals. Projects that require a diverse set of skills and expertise are usually where cross-functional teams can shine the most.
One of the biggest companies in the world, Apple, has been using a functional organizational structure since 1997 – the year co-founder Steve Jobs returned and took over as CEO. The structure enabled the whole organization to work in close collaboration with one another. Apple’s signature piece of tech, which revolutionized smartphones as we know them today – the iPhone, was also developed using cross-functional collaboration. And Apple is nearly 40 times larger than it was then, but it still utilizes the same structure.
If your business has long-term projects and goals, then developing cross-functional teams to leverage different skills is your best bet. Some projects that are well-suited for cross-functional teams include:
- Product development: By bringing together people from product management, engineering, design, and data analytics teams, you can help ensure that a new product is developed with a thorough understanding of market needs, technical feasibility, and user experience.
- Marketing campaigns: Have teams from marketing, design, and data analytics work together to plan, execute, and measure the success of marketing campaigns.
- Customer experience improvement: You can Identify opportunities for improving customer experience and implement changes by having customer service, product management, and design teams work together.
2. Focus on diversity
When creating a cross-functional team, the most important thing is that you want the team to be as diverse as possible. Start by determining which teams and individuals will play key roles in helping you achieve your goals. Put them in a single team together to work on a project.
Apart from focusing on diversity within teams, it is also a good idea to incorporate diverse individuals. This may include diversity in age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. Diversity is overall, extremely beneficial for the workplace, with a McKinsey study proving that companies with a diverse workforce experience 35% greater financial gains than their counterparts.
By having diverse individuals together in a team, it will be open to varying perspectives stemming from different experiences and new ideas. It can also bring potential concerns to light that certain team members may not think about. This will help create a more inclusive user experience for the product.
Diverse teams are also better at decision-making. A study of approximately 600 business decisions made by 200 different business teams in a variety of companies over two years, showed that inclusive teams make better decisions up to 87% of the time, with decisions being executed by such teams delivering 60% better results. With a diverse, cross-functional team consisting of subject matter experts from various areas, the chances of success go up significantly.
3. Build a team identity
Just creating a cross-functional team isn’t enough. You also need to ensure that it’s operating smoothly and members are getting along so it maximizes efficiency. A Harvard Business Review study of 95 teams in 25 leading corporations showed that nearly 75% of cross-functional teams were dysfunctional. So, the big question is, what can you do to prevent this from happening?
The optimal answer is to foster collaboration among team members, which you can achieve by building a separate team identity. Team members should be comfortable with each other, just like they would feel back on their respective teams. A good way to do this is by hosting an ice-breaker to introduce the members to each other. This can help build trust and connections before the work starts.
Regular team-building activities, joint project planning sessions, and open communication channels are also great for encouraging collaboration. With a team identity, members will feel belonging and loyalty to the team they work with.
4. Develop a project timeline and ways of working
Once the team is established, it’s time to focus on the project at hand. The first thing that you have to do is establish a project timeline. This is great for establishing clear expectations, effective resource allocation, facilitating communication, and increasing accountability. A project timeline can help the team manage and execute the project well.
To develop a timeline, visualize the project from start to finish, and give everyone a clear idea of what is a must. Project management tools are a great way to simplify the entire process and streamline reporting, making life easier for everyone on your team.
Using the Scrum framework allows you to establish a way of working, including agile practices, that keeps everyone in the loop. It also helps you be up to date with everything that is going on with the project. You can use Scrum board to keep individual tasks organized in various lists and display the workflow into separate stages. Regular Scrum meetings should also be a norm to go over challenges and address concerns that the team may have.
5. Be ready for conflict and difficult situations
A Myers-Briggs study found that 85% of employees face conflict to some degree in the workplace. It’s inevitable for conflicts to arise, especially in a team full of diverse individuals from different teams and backgrounds.
Often, creating cross-functional teams means that you will be bringing together teams that are traditionally at odds with one another, like sales and marketing, for example. While aligning members of the two teams may prove beneficial for both, the dynamics between their members may be such that they spend a lot of time competing with one another over power, recognition, and resources.
When you’re putting together a team for your growth marketing strategy, you have to face such conflicts and difficult situations. However, it’s also crucial to resolve conflicts in cross-functional teams to maintain a positive and productive working environment.
This can be done by emphasizing the shared goal of the team and seeking common ground. Remind team members that everyone is working towards the same goal and that resolving the conflict is in everyone’s best interest. Focus on finding a solution that meets the needs of all parties involved.
What cross-functional teams can do for your growth marketing strategy
Cross-functional teams can bring a wealth of benefits to your growth marketing strategy. This includes improved goal alignment, increased creativity, and more efficient decision-making, among others. By leveraging the strengths and perspectives of individuals from different departments, cross-functional teams can drive more effective growth marketing efforts and achieve better results.
Cross-functional teams are chaotic and may be difficult to manage. But if done right, they can be a game changer for your business. By incorporating them into your growth marketing strategy, you can maximize the resources available to complete difficult projects and achieve ambitious, long-term goals.
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