✨  Don't miss out! Register for our Employee Appreciation Webinar scheduled for 29th February.🎖️
✨  Don't miss out! Register for our Employee Appreciation Webinar scheduled for 29th February.🎖️

Register now

Live Webinar: Secrets to Building a Successful B2B2C Growth Flywheel
Save your spot now

The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

Visit Hr Glossaries

Cross-functional teams are organized to complete a specific project, but they can also be created with a more ongoing purpose. By working with members who have varying viewpoints, expertise, and backgrounds, the collective team can more efficiently tackle problems and achieve the goals of a project.  

They can also anticipate hurdles earlier in the process because each department has input throughout the process, rather than a project moving from department to department.

What is a cross-functional team?

A cross-functional team, also known as a multidisciplinary team or interdisciplinary team, is a group of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal. It may include people from various departments in an organization such as finance, marketing, operations, and human resources.

Cross-functional teams break through the “silos” of a traditional organizational structure so that the team can see the big picture. This type of team can provide several benefits depending on the skills and backgrounds of the team members.  

Learning about this team structure can help you contribute to a cross-functional team or implement cross-functional teamwork to achieve your goals

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

What are the advantages of a cross-functional team?

The benefits of a cross-functional team are:  

1. Diverse perspectives

Cross-functional teams bring together individuals from different departments, disciplines, and backgrounds, offering a diverse range of perspectives, expertise, and insights. This diversity can lead to more creative problem-solving, innovative solutions, and better decision-making by considering multiple viewpoints.

2. Collaboration and communication

By breaking down silos and promoting collaboration across departments, cross-functional teams facilitate communication and knowledge sharing among team members. This collaboration can improve coordination, efficiency, and alignment of efforts across the organization, leading to better outcomes and results.

3. Specialized expertise

Cross-functional teams allow organizations to leverage the specialized expertise and skills of team members from different functional areas. This expertise can be applied to address complex challenges, tackle specific projects, or capitalize on emerging opportunities, enhancing the team's capabilities and effectiveness.

4. Flexibility and adaptability

Cross-functional teams are often more flexible and adaptable than traditional hierarchical structures, enabling organizations to respond quickly to changing market conditions, customer needs, or competitive pressures. The ability to mobilize resources and expertise from different areas of the organization allows teams to adapt and innovate in dynamic environments.

5. Employee engagement and development

Participation in cross-functional teams can enhance employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction by providing opportunities for learning, growth, and collaboration. Working on diverse projects with colleagues from different backgrounds can broaden employees' skills, expand their networks, and foster a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

6. Innovation and creativity

The diverse composition of cross-functional teams fosters an environment conducive to innovation and creativity. By bringing together individuals with varied backgrounds, skills, and perspectives, teams can generate new ideas, challenge conventional thinking, and explore unconventional solutions to complex problems.

Who should be included in a cross-functional team?

The respective stakeholders to be included in a cross-functional team are:

1. Project leader or manager

A project leader or manager oversees the activities of the cross-functional team, sets goals and objectives, allocates resources, and ensures that the project stays on track and meets its milestones and deadlines.

2. Representatives from different functional departments

They are essential for ensuring that the project aligns with the overall strategic objectives and priorities of the organization. Functional departments may include marketing, sales, finance, human resources, operations, research and development, and customer service.

3. Change management specialists

Change management specialists may be included in cross-functional teams responsible for implementing organizational changes or process improvements. Change management specialists help facilitate communication, manage resistance, and ensure successful adoption of changes within the organization.

4. Subject matter experts

Subject matter experts (SMEs) possess specialized knowledge, skills, and expertise relevant to the project's objectives. SMEs may come from various functional areas such as engineering, marketing, finance, operations, or IT, depending on the project's nature.

5. External consultants or advisors

In some cases, organizations may engage external consultants or advisors with specialized expertise or industry knowledge to support cross-functional teams and provide guidance on specific aspects of the project.

What are the challenges of working in a cross-functional team?

Some common challenges of working in a cross-functional team include:

1. Communication barriers

Communication barriers may arise due to differences in language, terminology, communication styles, and cultural norms among team members from different functional areas. Misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and lack of clarity in communication can hinder collaboration and coordination within the team.

2. Conflicting priorities

Team members from different functional areas may have competing priorities, goals, and agendas based on their departmental objectives and responsibilities. Conflicting priorities can lead to disagreements, tension, and difficulty in aligning efforts and resources toward common goals.

3. Silos and turf protection

Silo mentality and turf protection may occur when team members prioritize the interests of their own department or function over the team's collective goals. Silos can hinder information sharing, collaboration, and cooperation across departments, leading to fragmentation and inefficiency within the team.

4. Differing perspectives and approaches

Team members from different functional areas may have varying perspectives, approaches, and methodologies for solving problems or achieving objectives. Differing viewpoints and methodologies can lead to disagreements, resistance to change, and challenges in reaching consensus on key decisions or strategies.

5. Role ambiguity and overlap

Role ambiguity and overlap may arise when team members have uncleared or overlapping roles, responsibilities, and expectations within the team. Unclear role boundaries can lead to confusion, duplication of effort, and inefficiency in task allocation and execution.

6. Power dynamics and influence

Power dynamics and influence may come into play when team members from different functional areas have unequal levels of authority, influence, or decision-making power within the team. Power imbalances can affect team dynamics, decision-making processes, and the ability to reach consensus on critical issues.

7. Resource constraints

Resource constraints, such as limited budget, time, or personnel, may pose challenges for cross-functional teams in executing projects or initiatives effectively. Competing resource demands from different departments or functions can lead to resource shortages, delays, or compromises in project scope or quality.

8. Resistance to change

Resistance to change may occur when team members are reluctant to adopt new processes, technologies, or ways of working introduced by the cross-functional team. Resistance to change can impede progress, slow down implementation, and undermine the success of the project or initiative.

9. Coordination and integration

Coordinating and integrating efforts across different functional areas and disciplines can be complex and challenging, particularly when dependencies, handoffs, or interdependencies exist between tasks or activities. Inadequate coordination and integration can lead to delays, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies in project execution.

10. Managing conflict and disputes

Conflict and disputes may arise due to differing opinions, priorities, or interests among team members from different functional areas. Effectively managing conflict and disputes requires proactive communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills to prevent escalation and maintain team cohesion.

Are cross-functional teams more productive than traditional teams?

Here are some factors to consider when comparing the productivity of cross-functional teams to traditional teams:

1. Complexity of the task

Cross-functional teams are well-suited for addressing complex problems or projects that require input from multiple disciplines or functional areas. In such cases, the diverse expertise and perspectives of cross-functional teams can lead to more innovative solutions and better outcomes compared to traditional teams with limited expertise.

2. Scope of the project

The scope and scale of the project or task can influence the productivity of cross-functional teams. Cross-functional teams may be more productive for larger, more complex projects that require collaboration across departments or functions, whereas traditional teams may be sufficient for smaller, more routine tasks with well-defined objectives.

3. Team dynamics

The dynamics of the team, including communication, collaboration, trust, and cohesion, play a significant role in determining productivity. Effective leadership, clear goals, and strong team dynamics can enhance productivity in both cross-functional and traditional teams.

4. Resource allocation

Cross-functional teams may require additional resources, such as time, budget, and personnel, to facilitate collaboration and coordination across different functional areas. Adequate resource allocation is essential to ensure that cross-functional teams can work effectively and efficiently.

5. Organizational culture

Organizational culture influences how teams operate and collaborate within the organization. A culture that values collaboration, innovation, and cross-functional teamwork is more conducive to the productivity of cross-functional teams compared to a culture that is hierarchical, siloed, or resistant to change.

6. Performance metrics

The criteria used to measure productivity may vary depending on the goals and objectives of the project or task. Cross-functional teams may be evaluated based on criteria such as innovation, creativity, and customer satisfaction, in addition to traditional metrics such as cost, quality, and time to completion.

How to lead a cross-functional team?

Here are some tips for effectively leading a cross-functional team:

1. Clarify goals and objectives

Clearly communicate the team's mission, goals, and objectives to ensure that all team members understand their roles and responsibilities. Define key deliverables, timelines, and success criteria to keep the team focused and aligned.

2. Build trust and collaboration

Foster a culture of trust, respect, and collaboration among team members from different departments and disciplines. Encourage open communication, active listening, and constructive feedback to facilitate collaboration and idea sharing.

3. Establish clear roles and responsibilities

Define clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations for each team member based on their expertise, skills, and contributions. Clarify decision-making processes, escalation paths, and accountability to ensure that everyone understands their role in the team.

4. Facilitate communication and information sharing

Create channels for regular communication and information sharing within the team, such as meetings, email updates, and collaboration tools. Encourage transparency, inclusivity, and knowledge sharing to ensure that all team members are informed and engaged.

5. Manage conflicts and differences

Anticipate and address conflicts and differences of opinion that may arise among team members from different backgrounds or departments. Use conflict resolution techniques such as active listening, mediation, and compromise to resolve disputes and maintain team cohesion.

6. Promote diversity and inclusion

Embrace diversity of perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds within the team and leverage the unique strengths and contributions of each team member. Create an inclusive environment where all voices are heard, valued, and respected.

7. Provide support and resources

Support the team by providing resources, tools, and training to help team members succeed in their roles. Remove barriers and obstacles that may hinder progress and provide guidance and mentorship as needed.

8. Empower decision-making

Empower team members to make decisions within their areas of expertise and authority. Delegate decision-making responsibilities and encourage autonomy and ownership to foster a sense of ownership and accountability.

9. Monitor progress and adjustments

Regularly monitor progress toward goals and objectives, track key performance indicators, and evaluate outcomes. Identify any challenges or obstacles that may arise and make adjustments as needed to keep the team on track and achieve desired results.

10. Celebrate achievements and recognize contributions

Celebrate milestones, achievements, and successes to acknowledge the hard work and contributions of team members. Recognize individual and collective efforts and reinforce a sense of accomplishment and motivation within the team.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

Quick Links

Employee Engagement solutions

Recognised by market experts