Synergy for Success – stop a hit-and-miss approach

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What are cross-functional teams, and why should you want them in your business? The decision-making process essential to Predictable Success requires them, that’s why.

Team-CRM-Business-Relationship-DevelopmentIsn’t this the same as cross-training, you ask? Nope. Let’s use the example of a sales rep and an accounts receivable associate. They are cross-trained if one can step into the other’s job when one comes down with the flu. In a cross-functional team, they work together to solve a problem, perhaps one that affects customer service.

How do you get to the point where this kind of synergy is not hit-and-miss but rather happens by default? Les McKeown, author of Predictable Success, recommends you apply these four principles:

1. First things first:

Don’t try to create cross-functional teams unless your managers are already consistently modeling lateral relationships. Otherwise it will lack credibility. “Do as I say, not as I do” has never worked. Leaders must lead by example.

2. Don’t be shy about saying clearly what your expectations are for cross-functional work, and repeat often.

According to McKeown, “Leaving expectations unsaid, easing off on those expectations, or letting things slide is the equivalent of going down a chute in Chutes and Ladders—it causes the organization to go backward…”

3. Create cross-functional “training wheels.”

In other words, begin to assign some task forces composed of that sales rep, accounts receivable associate, and one or two peers from other departments. Break them out of their silos to solve a problem. Start with just one or two—too many too fast, and your employees energy will be too diluted. Then your training wheels will slow down progress rather than nurture success.

4. Start with the hiring process.

A search committee is a great place to begin providing experiences for cross-functional teams. The employees involved will see results almost immediately, and their success will build what McKeown calls “cross-functional muscle” in your organization.

I’d like to add a fifth principle:

Support cross-functional work with robust tools, like a strong CRM philosophy and system. Implement it in advance and train your employees to use it consistently to ensure seamless, effective, customer-centric work. Better decisions can be achieved from the appreciating asset of knowledge found within your CRM system.

Follow these four—er, five–steps, and you’ll be on your way to transforming your business into a lean-mean, decision-making machine. And that, my friend, will bring you Predictable Success.

What problem has a cross-functional team solved in your business?

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Dick Wooden
CRM specialist to help you get the answers you need with sales, service, and marketing CRM software. I help mid-sized businesses select, implement and optimize CRM so that it works the way their business needs to work. My firm is focused on client success with remarkable customer experience, effective marketing and profitable sales using CRM strategy and tools.

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