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Leading organizations recognize the central role of strong cross-functional teams in creating innovative solutions. These successful teams gather top talent with varying skills to create and market products and services that propel your business far beyond your competitors. Cross-functional teams are bonded by a mutual goal and usually aim to complete a project requiring expertise from different departments in an organization. 

For example, you are just about to launch a new service. You will need sales, operations, marketing, and customer service on board to successfully launch, generate awareness, sell, and support your new service offering. This is a cross-functional team. It’s a team that successfully works together to accomplish the project at hand, typically a project that spans across all departments.

Unfortunately, incorrect management and lack of technology in cross-functional teams leads to poor communication, delays, and unfulfilling deliverables. In fact, Harvard Business Review indicates that three out of four of the teams are dysfunctional. But what's the secret to being the 25% that gets things right?

This post reviews the best practices for successful cross-functional team development for both in-person and remote teams. 

Encourage Collaboration via Strong Leadership

Although it is not a requirement that a cross-functional team has one person to lead it, the benefits prevail over the risks. There is a need for every person in the team to be responsible, and a leader is crucial to develop self-leaders out of the team members and give team accountability. 

A strong leader educates, assigns, and provides autonomy while monitoring the progress. Additionally, strong leadership encourages collaboration through involvement in the planning process. Meetings are also crucial for team members to have a conversation on the project status. You should also persuade the leadership to adhere to the project schedule and manage it as a whole and not in bits or pieces. 

Whether the leader is the CEO building a successful cross-functional team as a business strategy or it is the leader of a specific project, dedicating a point person or ‘champion’ to lead the charge can make or break the success of your team. 

For example, when implementing a new CRM software, we encourage companies to select an admin or CRM champion to administer the product and oversee the launch, implementation, training, etc of the software. 

Eliminate Departmental Silos 

Departmental silos occur when different departments, such as sales and marketing do not communicate with each other. Instead, they work in a silo, or tunnel, unaware of what the other is doing. This created fragmented customer experiences and can result in poor customer satisfaction.

The key is to establish a culture of collaboration by facilitating open and frequent communication to get rid of the silo mentality. All departments must work together towards a common goal. Teams should regularly collaborate, share ideas, and communicate KPIs, results, etc. 

For example, marketing and sales should have a regular meeting discussing lead quality, lead nurturing efforts, changes to messaging, etc. 

Hire the right people

Hiring the right people is critical. You need to find people who embody your culture, are team oriented, enjoy working with others, and successful communicators. The key is to balance personalities and come up with the right mix of skills. If you are putting together a team for a project, you can use needs evaluation to identify the skill and talents needed for the project to accomplish its goals, identify members who fit best and develop a winning combination. 

It also helps to hire people who are technology-forward thinkers. As more and more companies are moving toward digital transformation, it’s important that the team you hire is comfortable using technology and can think creatively when it comes to their positions and how technology can help them. 

Use Integrated Technology

Integration of customer service, sales, marketing, and operations allows you to have a 360-degree view of your customers and the business. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has numerous tools to help handle the increasingly complicated cross-channel client engagement tasks. However, a traditional CRM won’t do that trick. You need a Complete CRM. A complete CRM integrates sales, marketing, operations, and customer service into one platform.

Complete CRM allows every team member to access and work from a single system which increases accountability, collaboration and transparency within your business. The right technology allows you to break down those departmental silos we spoke about earlier, as well as encourage collaboration in your quest for digital transformation. The customer experience is no longer just based on a few conversations or touch points, it’s literally based on every engagement from awareness through conversion, that a lead and client has with your business. 

Because the customer journey spans across multiple departments it’s critical to connect your departments - i.e. a cross-functional team. 

Set a Common Goal for the Whole Team 

If you fail to give clear objectives to a cross-functional team, they may end up in a dead-end. You should create specific goals for every team and develop a common goal for the whole team. With the entire team working towards a common vision, there is greater autonomy, awareness of the expectations and resources required to achieve them. Besides, without clearly aligned mutual goals, collaboration and cooperation become difficult.

Shared Success 

A cross-functional team consists of different team members whose goals are different. When a project succeeds, it represents the team’s ability to work together and achieve. Therefore, you should share every success as a team and acknowledge everyone equally. The rules are the same whether the teams are in-person or remote. For remote teams, leverage the power of technology by using tools such as chat services, Zoom, and Complete CRM. Team members value positive feedback and it motivates them to move on up to project completion. 

Businesses usually build CFTs, but most of them are dysfunctional and don't yield the best results. At times, they also meet some internal resistance when trying to build one. But the truth remains that building an effective cross-functional team is worth undertaking and gives your business an edge over your competitors who are yet to get out of organizational silos. 


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