Successful team requires successful leaders And when is the leader considered successful in their position? The simple answer would be: when targets are met, goals achieved and the team is eager to deliver more. And for that you need people to collaborate to develop, build, deliver or solve problems. That means putting together people from different functions, environments and with different backgrounds. That means that they speak different languages (in every meaning you can put behind).
Although building communication in cross-functional teams isn’t easy there are some universal steps you can take to audit and improve your situation.
What is a cross-functional team?
To put it simply — a cross-functional team is a team, where professionals with different expertise manage other professionals with the same skills, and collaborate with those who have alternative skills and backgrounds to reach some common goal.
And for the process to be effective, there are several ground rules that we adhere to:
1. 💬 Everyone talks to everyone
Without talking, there is no communication. That is why we pay so much attention to conversing with each other. It gives us a sense of team throughout the company and helps us be better at customer support and at managing various teams of support professionals. As a result, we see that our KPIs are as strong as ever and the storming stage of team development is going by swiftly only to give way to an excellent team work.
2. 👐 Trust and verification
Just like there is no communication without talking, there is no efficiency without trust.
Because of the constant communication, trust forms within our teams, which leads to openness and readiness to ask difficult questions and discuss anything. It is the same for both: the professionals within the teams and for their communication with the team leader or Delivery Manager.
But! It doesn’t mean that our internal processes are built on trust only. There is a piece of software that helps us track the consultants clocking in and out of their shifts as well as various means of communication that facilitate our constant communication even when working on remote.
As a result, the environment of trust helps our consultants have a sense of team and various verification software helps them be as efficient as they possibly can.
3. 💻 Constant learning and development
Aside from our management book club, we encourage everyone in SupportYourApp to develop and learn new things. Webinars, different courses and new materials help us become better and strive for more — these are the main sources of our inspiration and our knowledge. Developing and learning makes us better at what we do and at communication with each other. This means that with each new book read, we become better at customer support.
Benefits of cross-functional teams
In SupportYourApp we have built a high-level of cross-functional communication that sets a background for our success by solving complex problems fast and efficiently. Not only does this save budgets, it also helps us build the company reputation as a reliable and efficient partner.
Re-building organizational structure to launch cross-functional teams became a new hype. And it became pretty challenging, especially for managers, especially when taking into account that they had to upgrade their skills quite fast. Why? Well, we all operate field-specific vocabulary and quite often have different profiles within different departments.
And if you recognize and accept these challenges, or if cross-functional teams don’t fit your organization yet, you should definitely implement cross-functional communication skills for yourself and your team.
‼️ Remember — difficult times bring difficult
problems opportunities. And that required different approaches.
How do our clients benefit from our cross-functionality?
We do our tasks faster
Speed, efficiency and doing just the right things — these are some results of working cross-functionally. The better is the informational flow, the faster the tasks are resolved and the more efficient the team is.
SupportYourApp management skills are polished all the time. We use every opportunity we get to improve upon them. Implementing cross-functional teams into our every-day workflow helped us become even better at listening and managing teams of customer support consultants.
Burnout rate decreases
Cross-functional management means that we are ready to collaborate with others to achieve a common goal, which helps us form a sense of shoulder and, in the long run, helps us form a bond within the teams. This ensures that we are free to communicate with each other and ask for help whenever needed. We have found that even though the option to ask for help is not always exercised, having it greatly improves the performance and decreases burnout in our consultants.
How do we measure cross-functional skills?
… or better yet, is it possible to measure them at all?
How can we understand whether the process we set up is effective and brings us results that we are striving for? In order to evaluate that, we ask ourselves several questions:
- Are our internal processes running smoothly?
- Do our KPIs grow and become better over time?
- Are our clients and their end-users satisfied with our services?
- Do our consultants feel comfortable in their workplace?
Answering these questions on a regular basis helps us understand whether we have been defining cross-functional communication correctly. If we get “Yes” across all of them, then we know that we have hit the mark, just like we intended to.
SupportYourApp tips and tricks on building and maintaining cross-functional leadership
1. 👂 Listen and hear
Cross-functional means the need to cooperate with different teams who have different expertise. As a result, there are always messages that you might not understand due to the lack of understanding of a certain field. To escape that, you will have to ask various questions to fully understand the message.
That also goes in opposite direction: don’t be frustrated when members of the team with a different background don’t understand your message. Take an extra step to find common understanding of the matter.
2. ☝️ Be prepared to talk and warn
When communication in cross-functional team is all set up and working, then most of the processes will accelerate. And that will lead to changes within the organization, that some might not be ready for.
So, if you are investing your time and money in building the process, be vocal about the changes across the organization and even those functions that are not the part of your cross-functional team or a new group of cross-functional communication gurus. They will be affected one way or another. And when they don’t know the reason of changes, that might end up in a frustration rather than appreciation.
3. 🔄 Prepare everyone for the changes
It is indeed very engaging and you would want to replicate your learnings and processes across the organization. However, be consistent about that and make a plan first. Talk to the members of your team and prepare them for the changes. Otherwise, you risk having a short term effect with long term frustration.
Efficient communication has always been the foundation of SupportYourApp. No matter your role with the company, you are going to be heard and you are going to receive the same level of care and support. No matter what team you are with or how long you’ve been with us — you are valued. Apart from cross-functionality, this really helps us stand out.
In conclusions, implementing cross-functional communication and management within the existing structure might not be the easiest of tasks, especially if you have other priorities on your list. But it is worth taking your time and paying attention to it, as it is going to greatly improve the overall performance of your teams which, in the long run, is going to pay off for your clients and end-users. That is what we at SupportYourApp swear by.