Feb 16, 2004

On Cross Functional Teams

On Cross Functional Teams

A Cross-Functional Team is usually called on when there exists a business problem that requires the combined effort of experts and when it is recognised that the resulting solution would need to span a range of functions.

Increasingly businesses face problems which are not pliable to 'simple' solutions. One factor is that businesses themselves see opportunities not in silos but in systems thinking. So a recruitment ad, is not just a recruitment ad anymore- it is also an opportunity to build the organization's brand ! Therefore it becomes imperative for the recruitment team to link up with the branding/mktg team and the corporate communications team.

In fact, I feel that going forward we will see a whole lot of cross-functional work being done by people.

In HR we already interact with other organizations like corp communications, mktg, IT to deliver our services to the employee. And therefore there are no 'pure' HR people anymore.

The issues with cross-functional teams are that the barriers are built over time. We study in MBA that the functions are 'silos' but the reality does not sink in for a long time. We continue looking at imaginary barriers like 'us' and 'them' and I think that a 'silo-mentality' is the greatest barrier to the success of a cross functional team. Throw in the complexity of people working from across cultures in a globalised world under stringent deadlines - the challenges could not be greater.

As managers and HR people the focus should be on breaking down our artificial barriers and 'turf-protecting' mentality. And telling people that all our actions should be directed so that the customer out there who buys our products and services.