Getting the biggest, most important things done for your organization requires incredible forethought, strategy and hard work. Oh...and people. You actually need a team of people to do pretty much anything that matters for your organization. Need more sales? It's a combination of salespeople, marketing team members, customer relations folks and finance. Need a new product? Similar group, but probably add in IT and several vendors.
Putting any team together is hard...putting a cross-functional team together is maybe even tougher. The problem isn't usually with actually putting the team together, but rather with getting them to work effectively and efficiently. As a leader, if you can't get the team to accomplish more together than if each person was working individually, then what's the point? The challenge is that organizations can't afford a big ramp up time for a team to become productive.
Here's how to get any team up and running (efficiently) in one day...
- Define its purpose: You need to be unequivocally clear in why this team exists. Every single person needs to know what the team needs to accomplish and why that matters. Do you think a team is going to go the extra mile to hit an aggressive deadline if they don't believe in what they're doing? It's your job as a leader to put the context around the work. Whether it's an exciting initiative like a new product or a technical project like a database cleanup, let everyone know why it matters. "Cleaning up our database will help us target customers more effectively, which means that we can meet our yearly sales goals...and that means we will be the TOP company in our space. Together we can change the way our company's seen!"
- Showcase who's actually on the team: Any team, whether they'll be working together for one project or for the long-term, needs to know who they're working with and to feel comfortable working with them. Sure, a team member may know Nick from the marketing team, but does she know how he works? Do she know what the best way is to communicate with Nick? Does she have any idea how Nick thinks about his work? My recommendation is to use an assessment. The Emergenetics Profile measures 7 scientifically proven ways that people think and behave. There are many assessments out there, so find one that works for your organization, but the key here is to provide a deeper, more data-driven way to elucidate personality, work styles, and the strengths that each individual possesses. (A quick note, make sure any assessment you use has rigorous psychometric accuracy--ask the sales rep to explain its validity and reliability scores or have someone with expertise look at a Technical Report--you want to ensure that what any assessment actually measures is useful and accurate).
- Set a schedule: Even if a team is spread around the globe, you need to ensure people can meet, talk, and work together. Regularly. Develop a quick-hit schedule (you can always add to it as time goes on) about when your team will meet, what it will talk about and what your expectations are for each meeting. An update meeting should be short and sweet with each member succinctly providing their latest work. A brainstorming meeting should be longer and done in a format to ensure maximum contribution from all sides of the table. Whatever it is, your team needs to know when they're getting together, what they'll be accountable for and what meetings are for.
This may sound like a lot, but you literally can do this with a team in one day and it will make a huge difference in their performance. A team that understands the what, why, who and when, will be much more likely to be successful and can hit the ground running immediately. After Day 1 though...it's up to you as a leader to keep them motivated, on-task and accountable.