“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth
Cross functional teams can be fabulous – a way to productively collaborate across a business or even across businesses. However they are not always a happy team in motion. For various reasons a cross functional team can derail – conflict, confusion and crisis can result.
So what do you do if the team isn’t working so well? No perfect answer, however it must be addressed.
Someone has to identify that there is an issue. It must be raised with the group – not in small sub groups, not behind other team members’ backs. Call it in the team environment.
- Explain that you think there might be an issue stopping the team from working effectively
- Identify the major issue – do not make it personal – make it behaviour based and without laying blame
- Outline how you see the consequence of the issue – e.g. what is it preventing the team from doing?
- Ask the group what they think (not everyone has to agree there is an issue; everyone must respect others’ views)
Be solutions oriented
Once the group have acknowledged there is an issue – focus on looking for a solution. Unless it is a complicated issue, you may not even need to identify the exact cause – it could just be, for example, ‘ we have issues making decisions’.
- Brainstorm – how could we make this better?
- Prioritise – what are the three main actions we should take from this brainstorm list (have the team vote if there is not agreement on the priorities for action)
- Action plan – what will we do by when? how will we hold ourselves accountable to this? when should we regroup to see how things are going?
Regroup and assess
It’s a good idea to check in again – whether a week or a month later – to see how things are tracking.
- Ask the group if the actions agreed were implemented
- Discuss whether these actions have addressed the issue
- If there are still issues, decide how to move forward – sometimes this might require external facilitation to assess the problem further, to decide on team norms or to help the group understand principles of effective teamwork; other times it might just involve re-looking at the possible actions together
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