Sharon Taylor - May 25, 2019

Make Your Cross-Functional Team a Success

As companies seek to be more adaptive to changing market demands, traditional siloed team structures are no longer the norm in organisational design. We’re finding that matrixed and cross-functional teams are becoming more common.

In the U.S., one study showed that 84 percent of employees reported they were matrixed to some extent, and McKinsey shared that organisations like 3M, Google and Wells Fargo have begun to use talent platforms where team members are pulled into projects and groups at different times, based on expertise and project needs.

As employees find themselves working with multiple networks of teams, supporting various projects and reporting to multiple leaders, it can be challenging to keep priorities straight and ensure that deadlines are met.

For leaders of these matrixed employees, it’s essential to create an environment that allows staff members to thrive and succeed. Keep your matrixed teams engaged by:

1. Identifying objectives

Start by creating clarity around the objectives for the project or team that you are leading and take care to explain the relevance of the work as well as timelines. Make sure that the team members as well as the various managers these individuals may report to are aware of the goals, so everyone is on the same page about expectations.

2. Aligning with organisational vision and strategy

Connect your objectives to the big picture. By putting your team or task force into context with the whole company, you will have greater odds of increasing engagement with employees – and their other managers.

3. Clarifying roles and responsibilities

When many individuals are working together, it’s likely that you’ll have different levels of seniority, experience and expertise. Taking time to discuss the specific roles and expectations of each team member is vital to overall success.

4. Building trust

When you bring together employees from different parts of the organisation, they may not know how to work with one another or even know each other at all, so it’s important to provide opportunities for team members to establish effective working relationships.

One way to start is to encourage employees to share their Emergenetics® Profiles and connect via the Emergenetics+ app so they learn how to communicate based on one another’s preferences. I also recommend that team leaders take time to get to know each staff member individually, learn about their strengths, their preferred Attributes and their life outside of work. Improved understanding will promote better working relationships.

5. Surfacing obstacles

In order to raise concerns, employees need to feel that they have a safe environment to do so. Ask employees to consider potential roadblocks whether inside your team or related to timelines and challenges of other projects. By encouraging employees to share obstacles, you can build trust, address concerns before they impact your project and support your team’s ultimate productivity.

6. Promoting clear communication

One of your most important responsibilities as a leader is to ensure communication lines are open and keep employees aware of timelines, milestones, status updates, successes, challenges and changes in scope. Use a variety of methods to engage team members, including face-to-face meetings, email, company intranet and online collaboration tools.

Also, I encourage you to take time to make sure that your team members’ other managers and leaders are also informed of your activities, so they understand time demands on employees and can celebrate their successes.

7. Remaining open to new ideas

While you have an end goal in mind and perhaps even a specific path for getting there, your matrixed team will experience greater success if you encourage them to express their new ideas and unique perspectives at least until final decisions must be reached. Matrixed and cross-functional teams are created to help organisations utilise cognitive diversity and individual brilliances, so encourage your team to share their thoughts and perspectives to achieve greater outcomes.

Matrixed teams, cross-functional projects and talent platforms are likely to continue growing within organisations as we seek to maximise agility and tap into the strengths of our multi-faceted employees. By using these steps in leading your teams, you can position yourself – and your staff – for success as workplaces continue to evolve.

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This article was originally published in Emergenetics International Blog Make your Cross-Functional Team a Success".

Written by Sharon Taylor