Cross-functional teams: Changing the way we work

By Melissa Bergkamp, governor at large, Generation Next
Harper Industries, Inc.

This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of Generation Next Edition

Many professional development workshops are designed to enhance a leader’s skills and values – building trust, managing up, vulnerability, effective delegation, and many more. But what I have found to be true, is that although you will likely apply many of these takeaways in your day-to-day work, you will apply every ounce of knowledge received through training when working in cross-functional teams.

Leave it to the experts

Being in a marketing role, there are very few projects we take on that we complete fully using only efforts from within the marketing department. We continuously collaborate with other departments, relying on the experts in product management, engineering, and a multitude of others to assist in achieving the best results. If it is true that we are all experts in our own field, then why would we try to achieve success alone?

In smaller organizations, employees often wear many hats with job duties extending far from the basis of their title. This situation is unique in that smaller businesses work in cross-functional teams unintentionally or organically due to the extensive list of responsibilities managed by one person. One could argue the importance of the need for cross-functional teams varies with company size, but I would beg to differ.

Tears down walls

Regardless of the number of employees, working outside your four walls will provide a new perspective on the diversity in your workplace. It tears down walls, builds confidence in others, and establishes trust at an overwhelmingly fast pace. One quickly realizes how their job responsibilities affects others around them, creating a more inclusive environment, improving efficiency, and redefining employee engagement.

Fosters a vibrant culture

While employee engagement is currently a hot topic in the workplace, it is often confused with company morale. Though these terms are quite different, they do have a significant impact on one another. 

Employee engagement is defined as the understanding of the relationship between an organization and its employees, both qualitatively and quantitatively. An employee who is engaged understands the importance of their role in the organization, knowing fully how their work impacts the company through quality, efficiency and attitude.

If your organization is not doing so already, consider working in cross-functional teams for your next job assignment. It will inherently alter the morale in your workplace - fostering a vibrant culture where relationships are strengthened and the desire to collaborate is contagious.