Monthly Archives: June 2010

Establishing Cross-Functional Teambuilding

Company managers and employees are often lacking productivity due to prevailing silo-thinking, lack of cooperation and outrageous department protectionism and non-sharing of information.  Does this ring a bell? We all know the virus: Human nature tends to protect its own environment for the feel of consistent personal safety!  Company goals?  Shared values?  Customer satisfaction?  Those are topics regularly addressed but not earnestly tackled since “everyone” goes back to his or her desk to pursue his / her daily routine brushing aside proactive ideas in order to work through the daily electronic pile of messages!  We are all aware that there is so much to do and in fact excessively much to do to get it all done!

Gone are the days of faxes and letters; everything pours onto one’s desk via email! Actually, one wonders if a Blackberry or an I Phone is a gift anymore.  It is for most Managers part of the highly wired equipment arsenal as more and more professionals chain themselves to their PIM, PDA, Blackberry, or Nokia Organizers!  Where is the necessary room for building company culture, ethics, and common goals?  Where has cooperation gone?  Unity driving energy for a common purpose and total customer satisfaction?  Where has it all gone?

Cross-Functional Teambuilding is not a luxury or a waste of time!  Let us at least try to do away with some of those emails, meetings, brainstorming and become human again focusing more on spending time together in order to create solid working bonds and relationships!  Why is it, that most business deals are consolidated in front of a meal or at the wee hours of the night at a hotel bar?  Chewing over the “latest” after a busy exhibition day in a foreign city?  Why?  Because we all know that entertaining our customers solidifies relationships and relationships do secure long-term business connections and the passing on of “valuable insider information” as we network our ways through restaurants and bars late into the night!

Cross-Functional Teambuilding remains foreign to most mid-size and even larger companies I and so many of us have worked for.  I remember a particular instance where all doors of all departments were literally closed, the Managing Director himself having his door locked and “graced” by a knob including a door bell to be allowed in! Silo Thinking? Amazing in this 21st century communication world of ours nevertheless shocking!  In that particular instance it took me each time 10 minutes to walk all the way to contact personally the production manager in order to discuss product quality and issues he most of the time refused to consider.  How about building silos, closing doors and not listening to customers crying aloud and demanding changes?  After all “we have always done it this way”!

The issue is that Cross-Functional Teambuilding remains a WIP (work in progress) concept and results are not to be quantified right away in any form! It takes time to implement mentality changes and tear down silos, which could have been already established as the company was set up! Radical changes are often necessary whereby personnel needs sometimes to be changed and / or to be taught to communicate with others, above all to share and give information freely for the well being of all employees and by so doing for the entire company!  Yes globalization is already here and customer service is in high demand.  The BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have been knocking on our doors for a long time! Others such as Mexico, Turkey are also arriving and offering at times cheaper and better ways to manufacture, service or address product issues in a competitive way and service oriented mentality.

In Peter Cheverton’s fabulous book:  Key Account Management, Tools and Techniques for achieving profitable Key Supplier status (3rd or 4th Edition – Kogan Page) Peter Cheverton tries to alert the reader to transform, among  other things, the bow-tie salesman mentality into a diamond one where everyone is included to make sure the much coveted Key Account Supplier status (the desired outcome of Key Account Management) is achieved and solidified, which ought to be the most important for all company departments: Remember the old saying: Customer orders do make pay day possible!

Enjoy implementing cross-functional Teambuilding inside of your company and let me know what progress you are making!

Until next time let’s team up and improve.

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Bruno Pierre Gebarski