No matter what you do in life, you are going to encounter a time when you have to work with people that differ from you — oftentimes, a lot of them at once. In the business world, this is what we call working on a cross-functional team. Essentially, working cross-functionally means working with teams other than your own (i.e. tech, marketing, sales, etc.). Just because you work in the same office, doesn’t mean you operate the same way. It’s important to be considerate of others’ working habits, while still maximizing productivity.
We’ve rounded up some of our best tips and tricks to help you navigate your next cross-functional project.
Get to Know Each Other
Now, we’re not saying you need to share stories from your childhood or spend your Saturday nights together, but the truth is, it’s much more difficult to work with people you don’t know. If you find out you’re going to start a project with people you haven’t worked with before, be proactive in getting to know them. Perhaps ask them to grab coffee or sit by them at the next company event. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to get things done right out of the gate when you have a bit of a foundation!
Communication is Key
A working relationship is still a relationship and every relationship must communicate in order to succeed. This doesn’t just mean saying hi on your way to the office snacks, but truly organizing your thoughts and explaining them clearly. Make meetings productive by going into it with a set agenda. Keep your team members on the same page by sending up recap emails that distinctly lay out what is to be done and who was assigned to each task. If you start off the project by settling expectations and roles, you’re sure to minimize confusion and ensure smooth project completion across your teams.
Use your Differences to your Advantage
Here’s the thing about cross functioning teams — you might have quite the mix of personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. While your sales rep might be great at talking to people and commanding a room, they may not have the best attention to detail. Your marketing director, on the other hand, may be more detailed oriented. Working with people who typically do other types of jobs may help your team balance out.
Decide on a Management Style
With so many different management styles and tactics, it should come as no surprise that each manager and its corresponding team operates differently. Whether or not you are the actual manager for a project, it’s important to come up with some guidelines (see? Communication really is key!). For example, if a manager likes emails written in a certain font, that manager needs to make it clear; otherwise, you’ll end up with an unhappy manager and confused employees!
It’s OK if Things Don’t Always Go Your Way
At the end of the day, being on a team — whether it’s the one you work with everyday, made up of your department, or cross-functional — is about what is best for the project, not always about you. Sure, we all like to have our ideas picked or feel like we are the best, but it’s more important to compromise for the good of the project. So next time you’re in a meeting and your suggestion isn’t the one that the team ends up going with, don’t get discouraged, but rather feel empowered that your team was able to reach a decision and the project is moving forward. A win for the (cross-functional) team is a win for you!
If you’re looking to work in a cross-functional environment with plenty of room to grow your career, join the A Team today.