The profile of a 'Complete' Manager
The Complete Manager 13 of 14: Working Cross-Functionally
We're continuing our examination of the profile of a 'complete' manager - one who daily achieves Predictable Success® for herself, her team, and the organization she works for.
Over the last couple of months we have seen that the foundation of a complete manager lies in their ability to enhance their productivity. More specifically in the areas of; time management, priority management, crisis management and delegation.
We progressed in the series to look at the second group of key skills; Developing Others. In this area we have demonstrated how the Complete Manager provides consistent, on-going performance assessment, ensures their team receives appropriate mentoring and coaching and finally, empowers their employees to make decisions.
We are now looking at the third group of key skills; Teamwork. We've looked at areas of Conflict Management and Difficult Conversations. Last week we looked at developing your Communication Skills.
(If you want to follow along the connections between the 14 characteristics, you can download a copy of the Complete Manager Brain Map - a pdf version of the graphic at top right).
You can track the series using this progress bar:
Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Steve is the top sales person for Kitsch InDesigns - a (you guessed it) kitchen design and installation company. He's brought in $3 million in revenue already this year and was promoted to sales manager about six months ago. He now oversees a team of four other sales people. His team has just signed off on another $500,000 sale that will involve the company installing kitchens in a new development in a neighboring state, subject to the developer approving three designs from Steve's company.
As soon as the ink is dry on the contract, Steve calls through to the manager of the in-house design team - one way he had clinched the business was to guarantee the developer that work on the preliminary kitchen designs would start "next week".
"This is Tony." says the voice on the other end.
"Tony, you'll never guess what!" Steve exclaims."I just signed off on a deal that is going to keep your boys really busy for a while."
"Oh really?" Tony asks sheepishly, not really wanting to hear the answer.
"Yeah, you know the new build in Lenoxville? I've just booked us to do installations in the whole complex." Steve continues with undisguised glee."Let me give you their contact details. I told them you would have someone down there next week."
"You did what?" Tony shouts, his voice almost cracking."You know we're booked up for the next month. We discussed this at length at the management meeting last Monday. We agreed you wouldn't tell another customer that we can start any new designs this month. There's no way we can do it. No way!"
Steve can feel the stress in his jaw as he clenches, trying not to let fly with what he really wants to say. After a moment of tense silence he says:"Tony, my team has made the sale. You work it out from here. It's not up to me to figure out the best way to manage your team."
And with that Steve slams down the phone.
There's a thin line between the maverick hero and the maverick jerk.
Which side of that line are you (and your team members) on?
Consider this: The maverick 'big-hitter' who built his career by regularly swinging for the fences and occasionally - maybe even often - delivering the winning home run, often evolves into a 'lone ranger' who is not only incapable of playing well with others, but who costs the organization dearly by pressing his (or his team's) personal success at the expense of the organization as a whole.
This transformation from big-hitter to lone ranger - from maverick to rogue, if you will, is usually contemporaneous with the growth of complexity in the organization. Once a 'big dog' with the internal status and authority to make things happen just as they wanted it, the lone ranger finds themselves increasingly confused and incapable of managing the nuances and subtleties required to 'get things done' in a complex environment.
Why do lone rangers have such a problem? Usually because they lack the skill required to reach out across functional areas and treat their peers (and their team members) as necessary and valuable internal customers, rather than as inconveniences and barriers to their personal success.
(While we don't have room to go into it here in detail, the incidence of destructive 'lone rangers' is inversely proportional to the strength of the concept of the internal customer in the organization.)
Conversely, the Complete Manager actively, consistently and by default
Call it silo-busting. Your challenge: To be a silo-buster.
- Involves others outside of her functional team (or area) in any and all decisions that have a material impact on others in the organization, and
- Makes herself and her team available to help improve how the organization 'passes the baton' across the whole enterprise.
There are four things the Complete Manager will do to bring down the silos in their organization.
1. Actively work for the good of the organization as a whole, not solely their functional area.
A sales person's job is to make sales, a designer's job is to design, an accountant's job is to keep the books. Naturally any employee's main focus is going to be on their core functional area. It is, after all, how they get paid. If every employee in an organization worked only for the good of their functional area, however, the organization would implode.
It doesn't matter how much product a sales person can sell if the operations department can't (or won't) fulfill the orders, the whole process will fall apart. Customers get impatient, customer satisfaction falls and ultimately the impact is felt on the bottom line - and on the balance sheet. In fact, at its extreme, every sale will simply add to the organization's decline! (If all you are doing is upsetting people, then more sales equals more upset, not less.)
Note: In this example we've posited a dispute between sales and operations, but this could just as likely occur between finance and HR or marketing and IT. The specific internal functions are irrelevant - it's how functional interaction is managed, that makes the difference.
In our example, it's quite clear that Steve was thinking only about his own functional area. He made the sale at the expense of the long term reputation of the organization. He knew (or at least should have known) that the design team could not start work on any new order for a month or more, yet he went ahead and closed the deal anyway - on undeliverable terms.
The Complete Manager places the good of the organization above that of their function, or their personal success. They recognize that no matter how good they (and their team) are at doing their job, if they don't serve the long-term interests of the organization, they are failing in their role.
The next time you are in a situation were you can choose to work for the good of your function over the good of the organization, I challenge you to consider the needs of the organization as a whole. You may feel some immediate pain but I guarantee, in the long run, you will see that you made the right decision.
2. Understand and take into account the impact of their decisions on other functional areas
Not only does the Complete Manager actively work for the good of the organization, they will also think about the impact that their decisions have on other functional areas. In agreeing to the terms of the deal, Steve made a decision that would immediately (and negatively) impact the design team (and likely other functional areas)..
It's evident that not only didn't Steve think about how it was going to impact the other functional areas (or worse, thought about the possible impact and blatantly chose to disregard it), but he wasn't even listening when the matter was discussed at the earlier management meeting.
The Complete Manager uses every appropriate forum - management meetings, team meetings, chance discussions in the corridor - to learn more about, and to understand the issues and pressures faced by his peers.
What opportunities are you missing to know more about how your activities impact others in the organization (and vice versa)?
Do you have medium- and long-term planning sessions with your internal customers, or do you only communicate with them when there is an issue? Do you sit in on your peers' team meetings from time to time, or have them come sit in on yours? Do you ask them to copy you in on reports and information that might inform you more?
Have you ever spent even half a day doing whatever your main internal customer does - selling, bookkeeping, moving product? How much do you really know about what is and isn't important to your peers on the management team?
3. Actively and frequently consult with other functional managers to solve issues cross-functionally
Steve knew he would need to give his customer an early start date in order to seal the deal. It had been discussed at the last management meeting that the design team couldn't start any new projects within the next month yet Steve went ahead and made the agreement any way.
Steve should not only have listened to Tony at the last management meeting, but as it is highly unlikely his half-million dollar deal wasn't considerably advanced at that time, he should have spent time with Tony immediately after the meeting, working out a proposal that would have worked both for Tony and the developer / customer.
Picture this alternative scenario. Steve knows he is close to signing off on the deal, so right after the management meeting he calls Tony and explains the situation. Tony repeats the fact that he's booked up but that they might be able to work something out. Then he and Steve begin discussing if there are any other projects they can push back for a week or so to get started on this project. They manage to open up some time in the design team's schedule for two weeks from now. It's not exactly what Steve wanted but it's good enough to get the customer to sign.
The end result is that the sale has still been made, but now it is much more likely that the order will be fulfilled. The customer will likely be happier with the outcome and the organization will benefit. This all arose out of a cross-functional consultation between Steve and Tony.
The Complete Manager understands that they are not the be-all and end-all of the organization's success. When an issue needs resolved, or a problem fixed, they reach across functions to solve it in the best way for the organization as a whole.
4. Encourage their team members to engage positively and actively with team members in other functional areas.
Steve has been a sales manager for six months and oversees a team of four other sales people. Not only should he be seeking to work cross-functionally with managers from other departments but he should be encouraging his team to do likewise.
During the sales process he could have suggested that his team members contact their equivalent in the design team to check on their next available start date for a project. This would form a foundation and build a bond for allowing more cross-functional collaboration between his team and other departments.
The true sign that cross-functional thinking has been embedded within the culture of an organization is when employees at all levels seek to solve problems in a cross-functional manner.
The Complete Manager breaks down the 'us and them' attitudes that often occur in silo'd organizations by encouraging their team members to work cross-functionally with their peers in other functions of the business.
Encourage your team members to find ways to engage with their peers in other areas of the organization. Encourage them to pick up the phone and talk through issues with their colleagues and allow them to shadow one of their peers for a morning to see what life is really like for the 'internal customer'. Encourage them to have brown-bag lunches in other departments from time to time, or to suggest peers in other functional areas who could be helpful in problem-solving for the future.
Putting aside the 'us and them' mentality and engaging with other functional areas will lead to better results for your department, other areas of the organization and the organization as a whole.
We've put together four questions that will help you to diagnose your cross-functional skills. Take a look below to see how you're doing.
Members: click here
to download a workbook containing these and other questions covering all 14 Complete Manager key skills
If two or more answers are in the 'Never' or 'Sometimes' columns, consider getting help. If three or more answers are in the 'Never' or 'Sometimes' columns, don't consider not getting help!
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