Wednesday

10 key leadership skills for successful cross-functional team management

Editor-in-Chief

An organization's cross-functional team provides many benefits and can be a veritable asset in helping to ward off divergent obstacles, that naturally arise in the workplace. 

Management is key to determining whether your cross-functional team either delivers on a consistent basis or itself becomes an impediment to its effectiveness. A well organized, transparent and flexible management structure is crucial in ensuring the success of a cross-functional team.

The following represent some key leadership characteristics of a successful cross-functional team.....

a) Effective Organization - To manage a team of such diversity and complexity, you’ll need a system for organizing deadlines, files, notes, data, research, and whatever else you bring to the project.

b) Equally Effective Communication - Without a clear but concise strategy for effective communication, your cross-functional team doesn’t stand a chance. This is the first and most crucial component of your team’s success and should not be taken lightly.

c) Unified Objectives - It is extremely vital that every one of your team members understands the importance of the task(s) at hand. Keep in mind that the responsibilities of the cross-functional team are often in addition to your team members’ already established duties. If they don’t value the cross-functional team’s objective, they won’t put in the time or effort you require. Help them understand why the team’s objectives should matter to them.

d) Clarity of Purpose - When working with a cross-functional team, conflict and misunderstandings that result in a lack of accountability are commonplace.You can prevent potentially frustrating situations by instituting clearly-stated goals and expectations, not only for the team but on an individual level as well.

e) Conflict Resolution - As should be expected, when a team is comprised of people from different functional areas of any organization, you are going to experience some conflict. It’s important to be prepared to handle this naturally-evolving conflict effectively. Many industry experts suggest you provide your cross-functional team with conflict-resolution training before bringing them together.

f) Be Flexible - One of the greatest benefits of a cross-functional team is that it fosters innovation. By bringing several different areas of expertise together into a positively enabling work environment, you’re creating fertile ground for fresh ideas and new, game-changing insights to flourish. To take advantage of these ideas and help the company improve, you must be flexible, open-minded, and allow these opportunities to manifest. The worst thing you can do to your cross-functional team is to stifle it with narrow thinking.

g) Only The Best (OTB) - Before assembling your "A-Team", it is advisable to spend some time defining the team’s goals, while making a list of the strengths and skills required to accomplish those goals. You will then be able to put together the "perfect team" according to your predefined list of required skills and qualifications.

h) Requisite Cohesion - Provide ample opportunities for your team members to get to know each other better through team-building exercises (both indoor and outdoor). This will foster a spirit of mutual trust and engender a unanimity of purpose and direction.

i) BEFA (Build Each For ALL) - It is important to get to know each member of the cross-functional team with a view to ensuring that the sum of each person's individual strengths is commensurate with the PIE (Professional, Intellectual and Emotional) Capacity needed for the team to achieve its defined objectives.

j) Individual Accolades - Even though at the end of the day, it is all about achieving something tangible for the team/organization, remember to acknowledge the contributions of each member of the team towards realizing the desired goal of the project.