Organizations won’t be successful with a cross-functional team approach if departments within the organization have been overly isolated or are mired in an “us versus them” mindset.
What can a leader do to build synergy in these types of dysfunctional cross-functional team situations?
1. Start by making first-hand observations. Walk around the organization and ask people how things are going; seek their input on the issue at hand. Visible leadership (when employees can SEE leaders walking around and talking to folks) builds morale and lets people know that someone cares about what they’re doing and thinking.
2. Build bridges between roles and job functions. Encourage everyone to look beyond their immediate surroundings and give them opportunities to form productive working relationships with people in other departments. A beyond-the-barriers mindset ensures useful information is shared and not kept in “silos”.
3. Get the most from the talent and resources available. When you ask a cross-functional team to take on a project…make sure everyone in the group has a role and that each person understands their contribution to the total effort. Set up challenges that allow individuals to utilize their best skills and talents.
4. Inspire your team. Be willing to lead by example. Hard work, effort and a consistent positive attitude on the leader’s part inspires others. And remember, high expectations and defined benefits—combined with clear goals—bring the best results.
Recommended Training Resource: The Magic of We video tells the story of how Snapper Lawnmower employed a unique cross-functional team process to reverse a series of problems that threatened its very existence.