Problem: Every day organizations around the world lose customers, frustrate employees and miss opportunities for one reason: Their workers don’t think and act as one team. While most leaders are good at creating teams, many are not very good at coordinating their teams to maximize business results. Leaders often find that teams within their organizations are able to work together seamlessly when a crisis occurs. However, the problem is sustainability—they don’t continue to work collaboratively when the crisis is over.
Solution: By implementing several simple—but practical and effective—techniques, leaders can improve alignment across team and functional boundaries. The following actions create value and develop employees at the same time:
- Strengthen unity among senior leaders and equip them to develop teamwork opportunities across departmental boundaries. That is essential to executing key organizational initiatives.
- Train employees in collaborative problem solving. Make business improvements and generate savings by encouraging collaboration among employees who serve different business functions.
- Develop and sustain partnering relationships among business units and with alliance partners.
- Evaluate performance. Teach team leaders and department heads to evaluate the performance of collaborating teams, to create shared learning opportunities and to apply that learning to continuously improving performance.
Bottom line: Finding the synergies between business units to do what is best for the whole organization is a matter of sharing the big picture. Hold tough conversations that focus on critical performance issues, bring the right people in to the right forums and enable them to communicate, prioritize and plan together.
About the author: Donald J. Minnick completed his undergraduate degree in psychology at Rice University and his doctorate in clinical psychology—with an emphasis on group behavior, leadership and team facilitation—at the University of Texas at Austin. Minnick has worked for more than 25 years with organizations ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small entrepreneurial start-ups. He has designed and managed the implementation of training programs for international branches of American corporations in Europe and the Far East. His clients include: NASA, British Petroleum, Texas Instruments, Kraft Foods and Lockheed-Martin Corp.
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