How to Build a Cross-Functional Workforce

January 9, 2020

Boca Raton, FL, 01.09.2020 – In today’s world the workplace is ever-changing. Along with technology, workers must adapt in order to succeed. A big part of having a successful workplace that can adapt to these changes is having a team that can work cross-functionally.

Working cross-functionally consists of different teams and departments within an organization working together to meet and exceed goals, helping propel the business to success. Here are five ways to build a cross-functional workforce:

Hire strong leaders

Often times, cross-functional teams fail. In fact, 75% of cross-functional teams fail across a variety of categories. Why? Because they lack the clear direction of strong leadership. Each team needs a leader that has a proven track record of success. Putting a high-level executive in charge of a team is a sure way to have your cross-functional dreams come to life.

A high-level executive has a record of leading teams to success. Likely these executives have had to work cross-functionally in their career at some point. Having strong leadership when trying to promote cross-functional work is crucial in having the executive be the guiding light for the team without micromanaging their efforts. A strong leader will know how to do this.
Encourage teams to get to know one another

When working for an organization, especially a large one, it can be daunting to try to get to know your fellow colleagues. For this reason, and because people who belong to the same teams typically have similar interests, workers tend to stick to their own teams. It can be challenging to convince employees to want to work cross-functionally with people they are unfamiliar with.

Luckily, encouraging teams to get to know one another is quite an easy task. Because they share the workplace in common, it’s easy for them to have common ground to talk about. All you need to do is give them the opportunity. Monthly work mixers, happy hours, or outings is a perfect way for teams to get to know each other outside of the office. Giving employees a laid-back setting with more accessibility to employees on different teams will likely get the connections flowing. This will make it easier for teams to come together in the office.
Promote teams to learn from one another

A good way to facilitate cross-functional communication is to promote teams to learn from one another. Allow employees a few hours each week to devote to professional development within the company. Letting employees shadow and pick the brains of other employees will help teams get to know each other and learn skills from each other that will further advance the success of the company.
Communicate in one place

As technology advances, workplaces have adopted several platforms for communicating internally such as email, messaging systems, and phone applications. In trying to make communicating easier by way of technology, all of these platforms have in turn made it more difficult to know in which way to reach out to fellow employees.

Having one internal platform used for communication can help mitigate different teams communicating on different platforms. This will streamline the process of communication in your organization. Platforms like slack make it easy for teams to work cross-functionally by allowing employees from different departments that are working on a project together to communicate in their own slack channel.
Bring on employees with a variety of skills

When hiring new employees, it’s important to look for candidates with a variety of skills and qualities. You want to look for candidates with skills that bridge the gap between two or more teams. For example, having a marketing professional with a bit of programming experience can go a long way when a marketing project requires your team to optimize a client’s website for SEO.

You’ll also want to consider hiring a candidate with several good qualities such as being a team player.

When building a cross-functional workforce, no trait is more important than being a team player. Having employees with an open-mind and a positive attitude when it comes to working with and learning from others is crucial.

Having employees that you know can be a liaison between two different teams can help management rest assured that someone with all the necessary skills for each team is helping lead the project. For this reason it’s important to consider hiring new employees with a broad range of skills and qualities.

There’s no right or wrong way to build your cross-functional workforce. And, like most things in business, it can be a lot of trial and error. However, if you follow these five steps, you’ll be on the right track in building a successful cross-functional team!


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Distinctive Workforce Solutions is a global managed service company responsible for revolutionizing Vendor Management Technology in the temp staffing industry through the advent of ManageRight software. Since its founding in 1983, DWS has promoted a unified environment which encourages creativity and innovation, inspiring its employees to form healthy lifestyles, relationships, and strive to make a difference in the world. Today, DWS members span across the US, proudly supporting over 150 global brands with its excellent service.

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