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Cross Functional Teams

Cross functional teams are made up of individuals who represent different departments or functional areas in the organization. Depending on the type of business and organizational scheme employed, manufacturing departments might include shipping/receiving, administrative services, sales, marketing, production, warranty and purchasing. Service organizations will vary greatly but can usually be classified as having the following functional areas: sales or order receipt, order processing, service delivery, post service support, and cash collection, in addition to the usual support departments involving employee care, corporate accounting and facilities management

It is desired and often necessary to assemble cross-functional teams in order to obtain a holistic or complete view of the operation. Individuals who represent a department or functional area should be subject matter experts (SME's), that is, they should be very knowledgeable about the policies, practices, and operations of their department or functional area.

The thoughtful selection of the SMEs who will represent the various areas of the organization is important aspect of building an effective team. This becomes even more critical if the team is to work only on this project for several months or more. Managers can and do use requests to supply cross-functional team members from their organization as a non-confrontational method of unloading weak performers. While the team member is off working with the cross-functional team, the manager re-assigns their responsibilities to others. One way to thwart this practice is to explain at the outset that the high performance team will be composed of individuals who will be leaders in the new organization if the team is to continue on as a High Performance Operating Team once the initial objectives have been obtained.

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