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How To Manage Cross-Functional Leadership in Remote Teams

July 12, 2023


Cross-functional team leaders blend diverse skills for impactful results.

Outstanding cross-functional leadership is essential for today’s businesses. A cross-functional team can produce more efficient and effective results than a standard, one-specialty team.

More perspectives almost always yield better solutions. But only if you can communicate and get the job done together.

Let’s look at some examples of cross-functional skills and how to use them. Read on to hone your own leadership skills in this new and necessary niche.

The Rise in Remote Work and Cross-functional Teams

The rise of remote work has changed the structure of many businesses in the modern workplace. This shift has brought cross-functional collaboration to the forefront as companies increasingly rely on diverse teams to drive innovation and efficiency.

The role of integrated team leaders is crucial, as they are tasked with orchestrating diverse talents and perspectives and navigating the complexities of remote collaboration to achieve complementary results.

What are cross-functional teams?

Cross-functional remote teams are professionals from different departments, such as marketing, engineering, product development, and sales, who collaborate together, often from different geographic locations. These teams leverage their members’ diverse skill sets and perspectives to achieve common organizational goals.

In a remote setting, these teams operate virtually, relying on digital communication and collaboration tools to coordinate their activities. This structure allows for a more flexible and dynamic problem-solving and project-management approach.

However, it also introduces unique challenges, such as ensuring effective communication, maintaining team cohesion, and managing different time zones. The success of hybrid remote teams largely depends on clear goals, strong leadership, and a culture that fosters collaboration and respect for diversity.

What are remote teams?

Most competitive business models now incorporate some form of remote work. When you can hire talent from anywhere with an Internet connection, your options become almost overwhelming. 

Important Note: Before working with a remote team, ensure you have security figured out. Connecting sensitive information to an unsecured network or device can pose a danger.

Key Strategies for Cross-Functional Team Success

The role of a team leader, or a cross-functional team leader, in managing remote teams has become more crucial than ever. Understanding the complexities of managing integrated teams across various locations is vital to ensuring a project’s success.

These are some relevant tips for succeeding when managing cross-functional teams:

Effective communication

As a team leader, mastering the art of communication is fundamental. It’s not just about relaying information; it’s about ensuring clarity, understanding, and alignment among all team members.

Establish which project management software or apps you’ll use to send information, videos, or notes. Discuss how often you expect to hear from the team or the milestones they need to submit for feedback.

Utilizing the right digital tools and platforms for meetings, project management, and casual interactions can bridge the physical gap, making every team member feel included and informed.

Encourage collaboration in a virtual environment

Creating an effective cross-functional team requires more than just grouping together diverse talents. It involves nurturing an environment where each member feels valued and motivated to contribute.

This means recognizing individual strengths, encouraging idea-sharing, and promoting a culture of mutual respect and support.

Set clear goals

The success of any project hinges on clearly defined goals. As a cross-functional team leader, it’s your responsibility to set these objectives.

Establish your project’s long-term, big-idea goal and then outline the many smaller steps to reach it. Have this information displayed somewhere front and center to keep everyone on track. Remote teams can drift away from project goals without clear direction.

Clear, measurable, and achievable goals provide a sense of direction and purpose, keeping the team focused and aligned.

Harness the power of diversity

One of the strengths of a cross-functional team is the diverse skills and perspectives each member brings. Leverage this diversity for enhanced creativity and problem-solving.

Encourage members to share their unique insights, leading to more innovative solutions and a richer team-building dynamic.

Establish clear deadlines

You need clear deadlines for each of the goals you established. Display all your goals somewhere in your online workspace. Knowing what step comes next will make your staff more focused and create a sense of urgency. 

You can have one person leading the group or several “department heads,” but someone needs to monitor progress with goals in mind. Incentivizing deadline success is a great way to stay on track.

Adapt your leadership style

Every crew is unique, especially in a remote setting. Be prepared to adapt your leadership style to suit different personalities, work styles, and cultural backgrounds.

This flexibility can significantly affect how teams collaborate, solve complex problems, and achieve goals.

Implement a good chain of command

Regarding department heads, someone needs to be “in charge.” Remote cross-functional teams are generally very self-sufficient and self-motivated. However, some crew members gravitate toward leadership roles.

The system can be set up diplomatically, but make sure you play to your team’s strengths. If they are strangers, have them self-assess at the beginning of the project and again later on.

Continuous feedback for continuous improvement

Implementing a system for regular feedback is vital to managing hybrid teams effectively. This practice helps identify areas for improvement and acknowledge achievements, keeping the group motivated and on the path to continuous growth and success.

Encourage discovery

Your remote, hybrid team will have growing pains. Interpersonal conflict and communication misfires are common in any group project.

Encourage an atmosphere of curiosity and discovery. If something is unclear, everyone’s first reaction should be to ask a question.

Remove the fear of judgment by rewarding effort and communication. And while you’re at it, encourage failure. You can’t discover a new solution without trying and failing a few times. Normalize making progress rather than being perfect.

Craft High-Performing Cross-Functional Teams with WillDom

Building high-performing cross-functional teams lies in more than just setting tasks and deadlines.

It’s about cultivating an environment where every crew member is aligned with the team’s goals and where conflict resolution and understanding group dynamics are prioritized. This approach enhances team collaboration and equips your staff to solve problems effectively.

At WillDom, we embody this spirit in our custom-made, professional remote development teams. Our journey in cross-functional teamwork has been enriching and effective, and we invite you to experience this collaborative success with us.

Get in touch with WillDom to maximize the benefits of cross-functional leadership!

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