Cross-functional teams utilize a wide variety of unique skill sets to build teams capable of achieving complex objectives. When carrying out a process in a team, . Summary, forum, expert tips, powerpoints, videos. Functional teams are traditional corporate teams often coinciding with a whole department, or with a part of. But even though this is a common solution, cross-functional teams have a checkered reputation. A recent survey by Strategy&, the strategy.
The selection process needs to be structured so that it is not biased toward one personality type. An effective team needs both the thoughtful, detail-oriented individuals, as well as the outgoing, insightful individuals.
Additional considerations for building an effective team are being identified. There are four important factors to consider when selecting team members: These factors can be effectively utilized by management when selecting team members to increase the opportunity for overall success.
Teams are a key component of many total quality management programs. The QS program, which suppliers to the major automobile manufacturers have embraced, relies on the team approach to ensure quality while maintaining a low-cost approach to manufacturing. In addition to improved productivity and quality, some of an organization's major benefits from the use of teams are improved quality of work life for employees, reduced absenteeism and turnover, increased innovation, and improved organizational adaptability and flexibility.
Effective implementation of teams can also improve office politics by improving the communication and trust between the team members. Effective teams frequently improve the quality of work life for the employees. An effective team is generally one in which members are empowered to make decisions about how to get work done.
Giving team members authority and control over the work processes reduces the amount of external control and increases the sense of ownership and accountability for the work being done.
This helps to create a satisfying and rewarding work environment. A satisfying and rewarding work environment helps to lower absenteeism and turnover.
Teams are particularly effective in this area. Membership in a work team gives an employee a sense of belonging, interaction with others on a regular basis, and recognition of achievements.
All of these help to eliminate a sense of isolation within the organization. Team members identify with and feel pride in the work they are doing and come to rely on one another being there. At some companies, employees are evaluated based on their contribution to their team's efforts.
Gore is a multinational company structured around the concept of small plants no more than employees where everyone works in teams. Everyone is allowed to experiment with the products and develop new uses. The result is that Gore has a continuous stream of patent applications and has been successful in developing new products in areas as diverse as clothing, surgical supplies, and coatings for industrial use.Leadership and effective collaboration.
During the s Ford was able to reduce its automobile design cycle by implementing Team Taurus. Through the early involvement of employees from planning, designing, engineering, and manufacturing, the company was able to eliminate some of the bottlenecks that had delayed the design process.
The involvement of suppliers and assembly workers helped to decrease the number of parts involved and lower costs. Reducing the time from design to manufacture helped Ford to be more responsive to market changes and increase its market share in the s and '90s. Teams are not appropriate for all organizations or in all types of businesses.
Behavioral scientists are still working to determine exactly when teams will be most effective, what motivates team members, what types of business can best benefit from the implementation of teams, and so on. The study of the philosophy and psychology of teamwork is still in its infancy.
While effective teams can produce extraordinary results, studies have found that an estimated 50 percent of self-directed work teams culminate in failure. The introduction of effective and stable new technologies has greatly affected teams and teamwork. Collaborative software and other multimedia options are providing businesses with tools to conduct teamwork regardless of location or time.
New issues of accountability, team structure, and team selection are arising for management to deal with and coordinate within the businesses overall goals and objectives. But as more and more businesses introduce the team concept, the wrinkles in the process are being ironed out and team popularity is growing.
An increasing number of organizations are using teams to improve productivity and quality, and to solve a range of managerial problems. Improved quality of work life and a reduction in absenteeism and turnover all contribute to a positive impact on the bottom line.
Involving employees in teams helps the organization remain open to change and new ideas. As long as teams are seen as a means of improving the organization's ability to meet competitive challenges, teams will be part of the business world. Cross-functional teams eliminate the "throw it over the wall" mentality that passes a product off from department to department. Instead, a member of each of the above functional areas would have a representative on the new product team.
Team members would learn of the new product at the same time and would begin working on estimates together.
If part of the product simply could not be manufactured cheaply enough, the team member from that area could immediately sit down with the engineering rep and come up with a new production method. The two of them could then meet with the marketing and sales team members and discuss new ways to position the product on the market. The result, say proponents, is a vastly improved product that is manufactured and released to the market in far less time than was achieved using traditional methods.
There is a good chance that some of the members of the new team have bumped heads in the past when their functional areas clashed over a project. Additionally, some CFT members may think that their area of specialty is the most important on the team and thus assume an inflated sense of value to the team. Finally, since CFTs often bring together people who have vastly different ranks in the organizational hierarchy, there can be power plays by members who are high-ranking employees off the team but are actually less important stakeholders on the team.
Those high-ranking team members may try to assert authority over the team in a situation when they should be deferring to lower-ranking team members. The best way to solve these conflicts is to set clear goals for the team. It is important to start with a general goal, such as improving quality, but more specific goals should be set almost immediately to give the group a common bond and to ensure that everyone is working together towards the goal.
Goals are easier to establish if research has been conducted by someone in the organization before the team is convened. This allows the team to jump right into goal-setting and problem-solving without getting bogged down in background research.
Functional Team - Knowledge Center
When setting goals, it is important to clearly define the problem that needs to be solved, not the solution that needs to be achieved. If the desired solution is held up at the outcome, then the group's focus becomes too narrow—the range of options is narrowed to fit that solution before the team even begins its work.
Also, when setting goals, the team should determine if there are operating limits that it faces. For example, are there time or budget limitations that have to be considered? Are there some solutions that have been deemed undesirable by the company's officers? The team must recognize these limitations and work around them if it hopes to be successful in reaching its goal.
The final thing to do when goal-setting is to be sure to identify key interdependencies on the team—does one team member have to finish his or her part of the project before another team member can get started? It is essential to know these sequential steps before a team gets too deep into its project. Work with Key Stakeholders Stakeholders are those people who stand to benefit or lose from the work of the team.
Every stakeholder should be represented on the team, and it is these stakeholders who can make or break the team. For example, if a key department head does not believe that the team is needed, he or she can withhold his or her best employees from participating on the team, thus depriving the team of resources. Or, that department head can choose to ignore the work of the team, conducting business as usual because the team threatens his or her traditional role in the company.
It is up to the business ownership, management, and key CFT members to make all stakeholders understand the importance of the team and its purpose and priorities. Customers, whether internal or external, are also stakeholders.
Teams should spend the maximum allowable time interacting with customers to learn their needs and what outcomes they expect from the team. Some CFTs find it works best if one person is named to act as customer liaison because it makes it easier for customers to provide the team with feedback and it allows the team to have one person go through training in client management skills.
Other businesses have had success in letting customers either join the team or attend team meetings as an observer. When identifying all stakeholders, determine what level of representation each needs on the team. Some groups will need permanent members, others may only need to participate in certain areas of the project. Communicate with all stakeholders and anyone else in the company who is affected by the team's work.
Do not spring surprises—this will make people resistant to the work that the team is trying to achieve. Communication steps should be decided upon up front and planned as carefully as any other part of the project. When it used to create a CFT, Northwestern followed the traditional model and appointed only those people whose roles were crucial to the process at hand. That is no longer the case. Now, Northwestern is experimenting with appointing one person to each CFT who is not a stakeholder at all.
Colleen Stenholt, director of human resources at Northwestern, was quoted in Getting Results magazine as saying that "One of our goals is to break out of the box, and the stakeholders are the people who built the box.
This is especially true of cross-functional teams that are relatively new. Business owners and managers should be aware, however, that important steps can be taken to manage and reduce conflict, including: Provide all team members with conflict resolution training. Conflicts can have value if managed properly, so improving team members' listening and consensus building skills is necessary.
Make sure that the company's human resources personnel are involved in the team-building process to help teach facilitation and group dynamics skills. Disregard the rank or perceived status of each group member and have standards in place that put value on what every team member brings to the CFT. Co-locate the team members. Putting team members together on an everyday basis strengthens communication and breaks down barriers.
Conventional wisdom dictates that small companies are probably already operating cross-functionally out of necessity—i. While that may be true in start-up operations, it is certainly not true of the majority of small businesses.
Most small operations have to weigh the pros and cons just like their larger counterparts when deciding whether or not to use CFTs. Those that have chosen to adopt CFTs have been largely pleased with the results. The owner of the business originally arranged his company into functional units, but found that he had an odd assortment of employees left over who did not fit into any of the existing teams.
TEAMS AND TEAMWORK
As a result, he created a permanent cross-functional team to handle special projects at the company. The results were immediate and impressive. He claimed that since adopting the cross-functional team concept: Employees in support roles are more concerned with profits and ways to increase sales.
They now realize that the more the company succeeds, the more they benefit directly. People communicate more openly and are more helpful to each other.
There is a far greater sense of teamwork instead of each person looking out for number one. Employees' problem-solving skills have improved dramatically, and it is easier to build consensus for a given solution.
People are more likely to speak up and point out problems. Before the CFT, people were more likely to be passive and quiet, reasoning that the problem was not their responsibility. People recognize that there is strength in diversity—that not everyone has to agree on an issue.
They know they are being understood, but that some people may still choose to disagree with them, and that such differences are acceptable. Staff members have also benefited from the CFT arrangement. Employees now understand the different processes that occur throughout the organization and understand the interrelationships between different functional areas.