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Cross-functional teams as the name suggests is a team that has people from different functional groups in it. They are all working towards a common goal but the skills they bring to the team are unique. Someone might possess financial knowledge, someone might be the king or queen of IT and others might be from marketing, sales, or operations. These are a set of individuals who speak different languages. For example, when an IT expert uses the term AGILE in a cross-functional team; he won’t necessarily be referring to moving quickly and easily. He would rather be using it for a methodology of software development that involves breaking a large project into smaller and more attainable milestones.
Many times it does happen that some team members who are mostly working on computer keep on sending urgent emails to members who are mostly away from their desks. For e.g. a Research Analyst sending emails to IT infrastructure Analyst. The IT infrastructure Analyst would only reply emails when he or she is available on desk (unless this person has corporate email configured on phone) and Research Analyst might be expecting immediate response. This situation can lead to frustration and misunderstanding between the two members esp. when this happens routinely.
Another example would be of a Financial Analyst working with an IT programmer to load some metrics in an online database. The IT programmer might want the data in a certain manner and the financial analyst might provide it in the way it’s usually used by the finance teams. It’s not the programmer’s job to re-arrange the worksheets and so the financial analyst would have to do some re-work. This again might lead to frustration and misunderstandings esp. if the changes requested are simple like changing the blank’s in the spreadsheet to N/A. The programmer might be bound by a service level agreement for not changing anything in the sheet. While the financial analyst might be thinking that there is no need for re-work if the programmer can make that simple update in the sheet by himself.
There are many situations that occur routinely in organizations between people just because they are unique and do not clearly understand the dynamics and thinking of people from other functions. We can’t expect everyone to be aware of everything in the world and thus it becomes really important for each of us at individual level to understand the responsibilities of people working with us.
Cross-functional teams are the best place to develop some inter-personal skills and for networking. By considering some of the essentials enlisted above you might just become a popular and eminent member of such teams, where people not only value you for your skills but also for your overall personality.