Leading cross-functional teams

N°135b – Synopsis (8p.) – Ad Hoc Teams
Leading cross-functional teams
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Cross-boundary teams can help break down organizational silos and reinforce responsiveness. However, coordinating teams that cut across organizational boundaries is a real challenge. What key drivers do employers possess to accomplish this?

At some point in their careers, managers increasingly find themselves placed in charge of coordinating a cross-functional team, that is, a team composed of individuals who belong to different departments of the company. In fact, this mechanism appears to effectively address the organization’s need to break down silos and become more responsive. Indeed, cross-functional teams appear to be an ideal way to assemble just the right skills needed to accomplish a specific objective on an ad hoc basis. However, to be successful, the team must get people often from very different backgrounds and scattered locations to collaborate effectively outside traditional reporting lines!

Five messages for cross-functional team leaders emerge from the writings of those who have carefully studied the successes and failures of such teams:

– Focus on building a closely-knit team, rather than on assembling the most brilliant people.

– Don’t underestimate the effort required to establish a clear ad shared direction.

– Be careful to share responsibility for decisions with the entire team.

– Work to establish and maintain a high level of trust within the team.

– Beware of the risk of cutting the team off from the rest of the organization.

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