How to Promote Cross-Functional Teamwork

“Teamwork” is a great corporate buzzword, but it’s awfully difficult to put it into practice, and even more so when the team is one that’s cobbled together from many different departments and functional areas. In her newsletter, Management Mentor, motivational speaker Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D., offers these suggestions for making the process work:

1. Try to influence policy so that at least part of a team member’s salary, bonus, and/or career advancement is tied to cooperative cross-functional team behaviors.

2. Schedule a joint team meeting to get to know one another’s competencies, roles, priority goals, and values as well as how the “other” team can help or inadvertently hinder the work. Send out a survey asking all team members to answer such questions individually, share them within their group, and bring the results to the joint meeting.

3. Hold a department open house some morning, inviting the other teams for a casual visit. Provide coffee/doughnuts and a bulletin board featuring workflow, major projects, awards, and team member profiles and responsibilities.

4. Join forces for a community project that everyone can work on outside of work—a Habitat for Humanity day? Build a playground?

5. Ask the other teams for a “wish list” of three ways that your team could support their work. Reciprocate.

6. Form a quality cooperation council made up of someone from each team and a neutral third party to meet to identify any bottlenecks or rough spots in the cross-functional teamwork and/or identify and honor examples of enhanced cooperation. Rotate council members each quarter.

7. Hold a cross-team art show, hobby day, or photo contest, and invite the whole company.

8. Schedule joint “socials” (lunch together, beer/pizza after work, a weekend theater/sports event).

9. Host a team member exchange for a day. Continue once a month until everyone has “walked in the other guy’s shoes.”

10. Take on a corporate project jointly. Run the blood drive or collect for a charity.

11. Agree on “ground rules” for managing differences; for example, go to the person most involved first.

For more information, call Dr. Zoglio at 215-348-0567 or visit

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