While the functions of each of your departments may be inherently distinct, their ultimate goal should be the same. If your company departments do not have consistent goals, you may find your organization struggling to stay afloat as it’s stretched thin across various resources with conflicting aims. The solution? Implement cross-functional teams within your organization.

Cross-functional teams are groups consisting of people with different functional expertise (for example: marketing, sales, supply-chain and finance) working together to achieve the same goal. By bringing people from different departments together your organization can pursue your company goals more effectively. 

In order for you to get the best results out of your cross-functional teams, it is worthwhile considering the impact personality has on team performance. By understanding which personality traits are crucial for the success of cross-functional teams you can set your organization up for a future of success.

What are the advantages of a cross-functional team?

Building a cross-functional team may seem daunting at first. However, the potential advantages make it worthwhile. 

One advantage is that cross-functional teams can result in increased innovation for your business. As individuals with different perspectives and expertise are brought together as one team, their shared knowledge and insights bring new levels of innovation.

Further to this, cross-functional teams can help to improve team relationships which in turn can positively influence employee engagement and job satisfaction levels.The process of cross-functional teamwork will also give your employees the chance to learn new skills from their teammates, build positive team spirit, benefit from diversity and to develop effective leadership skills.

What are crucial personality traits for a cross-functional team?

Good team players will often be described by their personality traits. To help you get the most out of your cross-functional teams, we’ve devised this list of 4 of the most important personality traits needed in order for your cross-functional team to be successful.

Using the Big Five personality model, various researchers have identified key personality traits that are imperative for cross-functional team performance.

The Big Five personality framework consists of 5 overarching personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience.

When developing a cross-functional team, you should look to include individuals who hold various traits within these personality factors.

Building a group of individuals with different yet complementing personality traits will allow you to create a well-rounded team.

Openness to experience

Within your cross-functional team, it is beneficial to have an individual who scores highly on the “Openness to Experience” factor within the Big Five personality framework. This individual that has a high level of openness to experience could be considered to be the analytic person within your team. 

Team members with high levels of openness to experience are likely to be solutions-oriented, multi-directional and explorative. These factors are beneficial for encouraging team members to be willing to learn and try new things in order to achieve your company goals.

Further to this, research states that teams that are diverse in openness to experience are most likely to have high levels of creativity.  This highlights the importance of having a mix of individuals who have low and moderate levels of openness. 


An agreeable team is going to be far more successful at working together than a team who doesn’t cooperate with each other. An individual with agreeableness can be described as cooperative, unselfish, reliable and friendly.

The person in your team who is agreeable will likely be the one who helps bring your cross-functional team together by encouraging others to contribute and supporting the unique perspectives of other members in the group.

Research has found that agreeableness is one of the strongest personality predictors of team performance with high agreeableness being indicative of increased team performance.

When building a cross-functional team it would be beneficial to choose individuals who have similar levels of agreeableness. Studies have shown that diversity in agreeableness among teams can increase task and relationship conflict. As a result, this increased conflict could negatively impact team performance and satisfaction levels.


When bringing individuals from different departments together, it’s important to be organized. Having someone with high levels of conscientiousness in your cross-functional team could help bring order and organization to the group.

Having high levels of conscientiousness implies an individual is committed to doing a task well. Conscientious people take their responsibilities seriously. Moreover, conscientious people tend to be efficient and organized. 

When compared to the other Big Five personality factors, conscientious employees tend to have higher reported levels of job satisfaction. Therefore, if you want to create a cross-functional team that is happy, it would be advantageous to make sure your team features conscientious individuals.


High levels of extroversion may not be suitable for all departments within your organization. For instance, Sales employees may need a high level of extroversion as their job means they will spend a lot of time in social situations. Meanwhile, your finance employees may not necessarily need to have high levels of extroversion as their job performance doesn’t rely on them being sociable.  

However, having an extroverted individual within your cross-functional team is important for raising team spirit and encouraging the team to achieve their goals. Extroversion can be characterized as being ambitious, sociable, outgoing, high energy, talkative and loud-spoken.

If all of your cross-functional team members are extroverts, it could cause conflicts within the team. On the other hand, research has also found that cross functional team members with low levels of extroversion were less likely to perceive themselves as having a distinctive skill or uniqueness. With this in mind, it may be beneficial for all of your team members to hold a moderate level of extroversion to ensure they are aware of the skills they bring to the team whilst also making sure that they are able to cooperate without conflict.

Other important personality traits for cross-functional teams

These Big Five personality factors were initially developed to understand the relationship between personality dimensions and performance on the job making them a useful metric for analyzing your employee performance.

However, the Big Five personality framework isn’t the only model used to identify different personality types. Outside of the Big Five personality model, there are many other personality frameworks which can be used to identify personality traits that are harmonious with team performance and effectiveness. 

If your team consists of highly-motivated individuals with strong communication and listening skills your team will be far more likely to achieve their goals than a team without these traits. Furthermore, engaging team members who are supportive of one another and do not have conflicting personal goals will also be beneficial to your team performance.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick