All posts by vivek

Cross Functional Relations Management

Begin Well, Keep Slow : You are paid to deliver results using any type of stuff you have. Its YOUR skill how fast and how efficiently you achieve it. And managing results through cross-functional influences is like a child’s play. If you know its basics. Initially it may appear very difficult but with some practice you will be able to learn that its similar to constructing meaningful words out of useless alphabets. Like joining building blocks to make the desired shapes.

Evolving YOUR Strategy :  Watch a three year old making very simple words by picking up or sorting out the required plastic alphabets scattered nearby. What the kids usually do? During their kindergarten ages they sort out all the alphabets in a particular manner mostly assorting all similar alphabets together. In management this grouping often helps you to identify who is capable of doing what and what is their availability?  So out of a horrible pile you have to identify and select the elements that might be useful and then try organize them in a more complex manner. After some practice It becomes like solving a crossword puzzle. Another step ahead towards almost assured success.

Complex Decisions : Every manager must steer across cross functional
diversities very carefully simply by not using useless alphabets and picking up the ones that make sense. While you require to produce results you must do this modestly without hurting anyone, because they might be of some use in some other cross-functional scenario.

Handling Cross-Functionalism : If you would ever watch a toddler struggle with the apparently nonsensical building blocks to make a detailed project, just observe how the game proceeds ahead? You would notice that initially that kid try to copy the plan printed on the box or illustrated in the booklet. At any juncture when he or she comes short of blocks he try to place some other units to better the shape.  Hardly any kid leaves the game play and  approach seniors to ask for assistance. Reason being he or she enjoys leading and taking decisions.

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NO Powers, Yes Empower : With the transformation of the global business scenario the role of a singular expert is out and the teamwork is in. The new way of management is shedding fruitless hierarchy to stop wasting time in getting  green signals and trusting fluid collaboration. The cross functional identities are useless if we waste time nursing their superiors’ ego. The new way is to pick up better leaders among the cross functional teams and assign them specific jobs using  empowerment. It Saves Time. Saves Effort. Betters Results. Wastes nothing. The reports and feedback also remain very useful. Vertical hierarchical structures are also replaced by network organizations, adaptive organizations, informal organizations and horizontal organizations. The company’s cross-functional teams of chosen internal leaders move quickly and adapt to any assignments in a better manner. No passing the buck. Management researchers have concluded that NOT leaders but the teams deliver better , faster. The new management strategy is using diverse teams of the sub ordinate management strata and their work force representing different areas of functions. The only thing that is kept in mind is their workable relationships, to avoid the failures due to lack of coordination and understanding. Its not essential that you take a group of friends because they like to remain together. The effective cross functional coordinators may easily select some members who might be totally strangers even. There are a number of possibilities here, you will have to consider as required.

Emerging Cross Functional Culture : The diversity of the cross functional team players gradually evolves into a new result oriented culture. Recently my daughter’s six year old son demanded some characters from his favorite animated cartoon movie Angry Birds. I tried to understand that basically he needed some similar toys. So I proposed that if you help me then I try to make the toys which are not available in India. And this way we made a micro size team. Both of us not knowing anything about making handmade toys. Yet, he meticulously advised me to initially make the toys from papers and then we graduated to card board toys. We kept on making one toy after the other and within three days we made about a dozen animated characters and toy vehicles. Thus, by creating a cross-functional team, we transform a potentially very powerful possibility into some great results. This way of functioning cuts short many time wasting formalities and weave an unimaginable cross-functional design of diverse unexplored talents.

img3Leadership Challenges: The leadership of a cross-functional team is complex and very difficult. The team leader must be capable of understanding both the subject and the contributions made by people from a wide variety of backgrounds. He must have the human resources management skills to facilitate the interactions of his team. Apart from these traits the cross functional leader must know about the assignment well. He should be capable of encouraging  participation, conflict resolution and consensus building. He must be able to work without using any  authority. Additionally if such team leader is capable of adapting faster and working in a more organized manner, then it would definitely be an added advantage.

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Getting Results : The core value of this cross functional idea is exploiting the potential of the inter personal relations of any diverse group of carefully chosen people to manage a project, launch a program, control the production, redesign some obsolete system, develop and solve any sets of problems. This is like some children playing together, enjoying the company and creating something that gives them pleasure. In cross functional matrix  any success is not at all individual but a team success, all rewards become team rewards, and if at all the team fails, they start afresh to win without getting disheartened. In cross functional management a clear team goal is invariably the most important thing that is very clearly explained to everyone. The team leader remains directly responsible to gain the commitment of the team and trains them. The group creates their own policies and procedures to systematize the functioning.

Advantages : There are many advantages of effective cross-functional teams. First is the speed, all cross-functional teams work faster as I elaborated earlier because the process reduce the time it takes to get things done, especially during the product development process. Secondly the cross-functional teams improve any organization’s ability to solve complex problems. These teams help the organizations satisfying the customer’s needs. They increase the creative capacity of the organizations. These teams almost effortlessly develop new skills rapidly. The cross-functional management strategies promote more effective teamwork and saves a lot of money that can be used later in welfare activities.

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Disadvantages : It sounds good in theory, but if the participating team is not properly raised or managed it may fail miserably in the field, later. There are some secondary strategies to control this situation but this management strategy is solely dependent on what sort of majority you have in your company.

(The author doesn’t claim any right over the illustrations used in this write up)