The ability to work as one cross-functional team is fundamental for any business to achieve success. Allowing silos to form and exist generates distrust, malcontent and unrest between colleagues and often leads to creating a culture of “us” versus “them”. To avoid it a management team must be completely aligned and in sync with how it conducts itself as one collaborative team.
Setting the standard for conduct and having an employee alignment process that everyone can fall back on especially during chaotic work times ensures collaboration, communication and mutual respect among colleagues.
In the positions I’ve held in management, I’ve learned it is a management team’s responsibility to create and foster a disciplined employee conduct and employee alignment process for the organization. Once it is achieved, employees learn to trust and help each other in support of the greater team.
To create an effective, positive and a team-oriented work culture – one where the entire company works as a single, high-performing, cross-functional team – management must set the pace for the organization by 1) establishing the expectations for employee office conduct, and 2) instituting the framework for employee alignment so cross-functional teams can collaborate successfully.
1. Organization Conduct
It is leadership’s responsibility to set the work standard and establish what is acceptable behavior in the workplace. This involves total transparency and sharing of expectations for workplace performance, including:
- Ethics, values and principles for governing employees and business
- Acceptable revenue generating practices
- Budget planning and management
- Internal and external communication for colleagues, clients, media, as well as vendor/partners and even former colleagues who now work at competing companies
2. Employee Alignment
Employee alignment is best achieved when department heads help to design the organization’s workflow model. In my experience working with departments including Accounting and Finance, Business Development, Client Services, Creative, Digital, HR, IT, Marketing, Production, I was able to co-author the company’s optimum workflow process(es). Doing this ensured everyone’s buy-in on the management team and gave team members a roadmap on how to work together. The end result was a cascading effect that left an enormous and positive influence across the organization and promoted cross-collaboration.
However, getting cross-functional teams made up of account managers, designers, programmers, traffic managers and writers to adopt an alignment process required constant oversight from department heads, the co-authors of the plan. At times, I witnessed that division can arise with cross-functional teams made up of talented, optimistic and creative thinkers. Individuals became so focused on their immediate tasks they forget about including others on the team, resulting in animosity and blame that inhibited the overall team’s performance and ability to create compelling, creative and innovative work. When this happened I was able to step in and act as an advisor and reset expectations for team conduct and adherence to the alignment process.
Accomplishing the company’s strategic goal of employee alignment should always be of the highest priority of executive management. It falls on management to continually keep perspective on the strategic objectives of the agency and remind the team that they are one part of the greater sum.