How to build cross functional high-performance team

The corporate world is a fast-moving place & only organization where everyone works together for the common goal is going to be the likely winner. It is because 60% to 70% of the business are lost because of individual differences of employees & departments or because they work in silos. For this reason, leaders across organization have zoomed in their vision towards building High Performance team. In current business environment having a high performance cross functional team is must for every organization. Numerous initiatives were taken by leaders for building High-performance team like revising incentive structure, balanced scorecard, creating roles of Business partner (like finance, HR, Marketing etc), yet they are some distance away of creating an HPT.

Here is the thing- Each one of us understand why an organization needs a cross functional HPT? So, I am not going to discuss here in detail. In this fast-moving world, only one who is agile enough to adapt to changing scenario will survive & walk on the path of success, but the question is how organizations can make their employees & adaptable to changing world. There are reasons of why roles like business partner not able to uplift the performance of the team as it was envisioned while fashioning these roles. Do you know the reason why? Because business partner is always been seen as an outsider in the team. He or she work more like a relationship manager (one point of contact) but never one who understand business. Feeling of sense of belongingness is the secret ingredient that drives members of the team towards the common goal. The success of High-Performing teams depends much on the degree of commitment of its members with one another. One positive action inspires the whole team & uplift the performance. But the question is how organizations can inculcate those behaviors?

Of all the possible ways of building a Cross functional High-performance team, the below two are the simplest approach

  1. Empathy & Humility- Surprisingly empathetic behavior of the candidate is often neglected during the interviews. Minimal or no efforts made to know empathetic approach of the candidate. I believe apart from campus placements where behavioral traits are given priority, corporates mostly focus on skills rather than behaviors. The first step towards building an HPT is to hire people who have empathetic behavior as a kind member is more likely to work towards the team goal.
  2. It’s true that in this fast-moving world, there is increased pressure on filling up the role as soon as possible to ensure work continuity & behavioral skills like empathy are getting neglected. But then there is another way of inculcating work empathy in the employees. The second approach is very easy & straight forward- let the designated business partner to work in the team like as a member of the team for one or two months. During this time, he or she will only do the day to day of the team just like one of them & will be reporting to the team lead. It will help him or her in
  • Business understanding – One of the bigger challenges for the business partner is the good understanding of the business. The lack of business understanding limit him or her to have a meaningful contribution for the team. At times, it leads to loss of business but he or she can contribute positively for the success of the team had they exposed to the business initially.
  • Appreciate the constraint Normally exchange of business requirements happens between the Business unit & Business Partner but there are times when Business partner has no idea about the business constraint. Sometimes these are invisible constraint which team knows because of experience but cannot be shared with other over discussions or emails. The transactional conversation is of no help to the Business Partner for finding the right solution & it may happen the suggestion of solution provide by him or her will not be feasible or helpful or right. If the Business partner knew the limitations, he provides the solution accordingly. It will help in avoiding back & forth conversation saving time & business.
  • Decision makingEach team has its own style of working & decision making. Had the Business partner worked along with them as one of them & know the BU, he/she would know the how the decisions are taken by the team & able to contribute more efficiently.
  • Customer behaviors & requirement Having minimal or no interaction with the clients, Business Partner know only much which has been told by the Business unit. The gap in knowledge of this very important understandings of customer behaviors can be big deterrent in winning business. Many a times proposals get rejected because of mismatch of the expectations.
  • Priorities Each individual & team have their own set of priorities but to be successful, everyone BU or BP should have a common priority. To understand how BU set priorities, BP must work very closely with them or must work with them.
  • Timelines Little or no knowledge of earlier points by can lead to the delays and possibly business loss. I am sure you will agree that not knowing each other work creates confusion for timeline commitment to the customers.
  • Most importantly: Sense of belongingness – Despite being Business partner, belongingness behavior was always lacking. A few months working along with the team as a core team member will inculcate this behavior in all members. Feeling of belongingness inculcate one very very important attitude in the minds of the team members i.e. sense of ownership. Here is the thing- When every team member feels that he owns the project then you are sure that success is just few steps away waiting for you.

In modern day business environment, it’s important to create cross functional high-performance team by bringing together best of the talents. Just by creating new roles or incentive structure, High Performance cross functional team cannot be built. Organizations must groom employees for succeeding in these roles. It starts right from the hiring, setting up the right processes that eventually results in not only building cross functional high-performance team but also a high-performance culture in the organizations because teamwork will win the business and as quoted by the great Michael Jorden- “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”.

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