Building a cross-functional team
A cross-functional team is a mix of specialists for a common
objective. This structural innovation deserves special attention.
Cross-functional teams are based on assigned rather than voluntary
membership. Cross-functional teams stand in sharp contrast to the
tradition of pooling specialists into functional departments, thereby
creating the problem of integrating and coordinating those departments.
Trust: A key to cross functional effectiveness
Trust, a belief in the integrity, character, or ability of others, is
essential if people are to achieve anything together in the long run.
Participative management programs are very dependent on trust. Sadly,
trust is not one of the hallmarks of the current management scene. In a
survey of 400 managers, for example, 33 percent said they distrusted
their immediate bosses. Fifty-five percent reportedly did not believe
their firms' top management! To a greater extent that they may initially
suspect, managers determine the level of trust in the organization and
its component work groups and teams.
A cross functional team is a mix of specialists for a common
Primary responsibility for creating a climate of trust falls on the
manager. Team members usually look to the manager, who enjoys
hierarchical advantage and greater access to key information, to set the
tone for inter-personal dealings. Threatening or intimidating action by
the manager is likely to encourage the group to bind together, when team
members are still receptive to positive managerial influence. Trust is
initially encouraged by a manager's openness and honestly.
Six ways to build trust. Trust is a fragile thing. As most of us know
from personal experience, trust grow at a painfully slow pace, yet can
be destroyed with a thoughtless remark. Managers need to concentrate on
six areas: communication, support, respect, fairness, predictability,
Communication is a matter of keeping subordinates informed, providing
accurate feedback, explaining decisions and policies, being candid about
one's own problems, and resisting the temptation to hoard information
for use as a tool or a reward...
Support means showing concern for subordinates as people. It means
being available and approachable. It means helping people, coaching
them, encouraging their idea,s and defending their positions...
Respect feeds on itself. The most important form of respect is
delegation, and the second most important is listening to subordinates
and acting on their opinions...
Fairness means giving credit where it's due, being objective and
impartial in performance appraisals, giving praise liberally. The
opposite kind of behaviour-favouritism, hypocrisy, misappropriating
ideas and accomplishments, unethical behaviour-is difficult to forgive
and hugely destructive of trust..
Predictability is a matter of behaving consistently and dependably
and of keeping explicit and implicit promises. A broken promise can do
Competence, finally, means demonstrating technical and professional
ability and good business sense. Employees don't want to be subordinate
to people they see as incompetent. Trust grows from seeds of decent
behaviour, but it thrives on the admiration and respect that only a
capable leader can command.
Managers find that trust begets trust. In other words, those who feel
they are trusted tend to trust others in return.
The way in which people work is strongly influenced by the way
leaders react. When working under pressure it is easy to react
negatively when there are problems or poor results. However, if you want
people to try new ways to experiment or take risks to improve
performance you must respond positively and constructively to their
efforts as well as their results.
There are many ways in which recognition can be reflected - formal
This tool outlines a range of approaches to recognition for you to
review and from which you can select.
How to use it
The following elements have all been incorporated successfully into
formal recognition schemes by different companies:
Goals, measures, standards and targets
Unless performance is related back to the goals of the
company/team/individual there is no objective way of assessing whether
recognition is appropriate.
Training and development
While basic training to undertake a job should be provided for
everyone, attendance and achievement in training can be a useful form of
recognition (certificates and presentations).
Secret of success of cross functional teams
Team members know and understand their organization's goals, values
and policies. They know where they (and their organization) are going.
Everyone recognizes the customer as the king. There is a can-do
attitude toward fulfilling customer needs, and people are empowered to
serve beyond their customers' expectations.
Those in charge solicit the ideas of their associates at the very
beginning of the decision-making process.
Team members welcome feedback, solicited or not, favourable or not,
from customers and associates.
They interact with other associates in ways that reinforce mutual
respect as a high-priority element in the value system. They have no
associates who are "just a..."
They work not just on goals and controls, but also on process as well
as content, and on principle instead of expedience.
Team members serve each other as well as their clients, customers and
constituents as they press toward the achievement of agreed-upon
objectives. In short, they empower each other to serve and succeed.
Set high performance standards. Part of your responsibility as a team
leader is to pursue successively higher achievement over time. Impire
your team by asking:
* How/where can we improve?
* Why do we have to do it that way?
* Who has a better idea?
* How is this being done in other benchmark organizations, in other
departments, by other teams.
* Why are we not working up to the full potential?
*Why can't we do better than this?
* What is holding us back?
* Why are we not the best?
* Are we honestly challenging ourselves.
* Have we looked at this from every possible angle?
Expect people to resist a move to team work because of tradition,
fear of losing control, fewer promotional opportunities and lack of
Live up to your team mates personal and professional expectations.
Your success will also hinge on your ability to:
* Set clear, meaningful team goals.
* Built mutual trust.
* Obtain higher management's support.
* Secure good training.
* Surrender control to your team.
* Challenge your team with high standards.
* Pursue diversity in assembling team members.
Forces in the work team
* Has the team enjoyed previous success in a similar task?
* Is the team an established work group?
* Has the team enjoyed autonomy in task management and decision
* Does the team fully understand and share the goals?
* Are the team values implied in the task?
* Is the team ready for further development in autonomy and decision
* Has the team demonstrated commitment and the ability to meet
Developing a model team contract Team mission statement
* The overall purpose or goal of the team
* How the team will contribute to the overall business goals
* A clear, simple and memorable statement that means something to
* What outcomes are expected
* How success will be measured, eg what is to be produced?
* What is not included in the project
* Budget restrictions
* Process start and finish points
*Time limits on involvement or length of meetings
* Sites/product/departments to be included
Who is likely to be contacted or involved during the project (beyond
the team itself)
* Will the team be involving external customers or suppliers
* Start and finish times
* Milestones along the way eg for presenting proposals
* Access to specialist help
* Cover for normal work
* Who's doing what
An effective team leader will use the grips model Define goals:
* Help the team and each individual to be clear about who their
customer is, what outputs are required from them and the standards they
need to meet.
*Identity and agree objectives for continuous improvement.
* Demonstrate how these objectives contribute to the overall
* Identify how each individual fits into the team and the
* Explain your role and how you will provide support.
Strive for honest interaction
* Swap constructive feedback; listen to your team.
* Share feelings and concerns; be open.
* Aim for equality not dominance.
*Admit mistakes; give praise as well as censure.
Support personal development
* Systematically identify individual's strengths and needs.
* Agree to personal development goals.
* Identify ways to meet these needs and goals.
* Coach counsel and facilitate personal development.
Adapt your style
* Use the appropriate style to reflect each individuals' level of
development and the nature of the task.
* Consult your team to get their views and ideas before you make a
* When they have more experience, build their confidence by joint
* When individuals and/or the team have sufficient experience and
confidence then delegate goals and tasks to them and let them be
responsible for working out how to achieve them.