Have you ever wondered how startup companies with 10 employees are able to move faster and produce more than some Fortune 500s? Well, it’s a lot easier to drive a go-cart than a semi-truck. As organizations grow, they shift from a team atmosphere with a shared focus to a group of siloed departments that struggle to communicate.
In today’s unpredictable business environment, rapid adaptability is fundamental to success. This is driving many executives to rethink the traditional organizational structure that can stifle productivity, communication, and innovation. The trend toward cross-departmental and cross-generational collaboration stems from the need to eliminate departmental silos that inhibit collaboration. In fact, in a recent Workforce Management Trends survey, executives identified communication barriers, siloed information, and a lack of cross-functional talent as the top three deterrents to cross-departmental collaboration within their organization.
Modern organizations have begun to adopt the silicon valley-like strategy of forming small, cross-functional teams to address bold business challenges and produce high impact results. Below are some steps to take to start creating pods and increasing teamwork in the workplace:
- Determine Initiatives: What will they work on?
The first step when creating cross-functional teams is to determine their purpose. Some organizations use pods to launch new services, execute a merger, or implement a new software. Pods can also be utilized to develop solutions for problems that the business is facing, from compliance to training.
Example: As a working example, let say that an organization wants to assemble a cross-functional team of executives to address a Recruiting & Retention problem.
- Identify Complementary Skills: Who will be included?
Different people have different perspectives, which is why bringing employees with diverse backgrounds together can increase visibility into issues and result in innovative solutions. Executives must assemble teams that are diverse in function, skillset, and even generation.
Example: To address a Recruiting & Retention problem, an organization would likely want to involve team members from Finance and HR that work in Recruiting, Payroll, Talent Management and Workforce Planning. Someone on the team should be well versed in technological solutions, while another should be more people-oriented.
- Set Metrics for Success: What goals will they work toward?
Back in 2015, HBR reported that 75% of cross-functional teams were unsuccessful. They found that this was, in large part, due to a lack of oversight and goal-setting, resulting in team members resisting to work together. Setting success metrics will give team members a clear focus, help them measure their progress, and keep everyone accountable. Before forming the team, there should be a budget, timeline, and outcome established.
Example: When team members from HR and Finance get together to tackle Recruiting & Retention, the goals should be to implement a more efficient recruiting process, attract top talent, and implement employee engagement strategies to reduce turnover. However, those goals alone are not enough. Measurable success metrics, like reducing time to fill positions by 50%, increasing retention by 20%, and decreasing vacancies by 30%, should also be established for progress tracking and accountability.
Understanding the value of teamwork in the workplace is key, but the biggest challenge leaders have today is figuring out how to harness the power of a multi-faceted workforce and encourage them to work together in top-performing teams. If this process is managed well, the combined skill sets and traits of team members can be a powerful force. If managed poorly, clashing teams could contribute to low productivity, a tense work environment, and increased turnover. Leaders must leverage their respective talents by understanding and identifying complimentary teams that engage all members and optimize contributions.