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How to form a cross-functional team

Implementing most business projects requires a wide range of skills and knowledge. If you manage such a project, then almost certainly you have to manage a group of representatives of different professions. They can be part of your organization, represent different parts of your company, or work in completely separate structures. No matter where they come from, they are united in what is called the "inter-functional" or "cross-functional" team.

As the project manager the team is working on, your task is to organize the team members in order to transform their effective and well-coordinated team of specialists capable of achieving the goals set for the project. Difficult task? Undoubtedly, difficult - even confusing and time consuming. However, if you follow certain rules, rallying a team can be quite rewarding, as well as easier and quite successful. This article outlines the most basic points.

What you need to know

I am new to project management and I need to form a cross-functional team. How do I get started and how do I find the right people?

Start with what tasks the project sets itself and what skills their implementation requires. Then look at the employees and determine which of them has the necessary knowledge and enthusiasm. At the same time, it is necessary to determine whether the project requires the involvement of employees from outside. After that, you need to hire people who are suitable for you - for this you may need all sorts of approval from yours and their superiors. It is obvious that the list of candidates can vary greatly depending on the nature of the project and the amount of work needed.

If, for example, you need to move to a more suitable working space for a project, then you will most likely need planners, packers, movers, electricians, equipment installation specialists, telecommunications specialists, etc. Probably, your new employees will need to move from different divisions of the company, because you have chosen those who have the necessary knowledge and skills and those who are ready to give all the best.

It is likely that the person interested in carrying out the project - that is, the one who appointed you as the leader - will be your ally and will help you choose the right people and hire them.

How to observe the correct proportions of personal qualities and knowledge in the project team?

This is the right train of thought! The interaction of different in character personalities during work can bring discord in the common cause, or even completely stop it. In the end, it may turn out that how team members interact with each other was much more important than the knowledge that they had.

So what types of personalities should be inherent to members of a new team?

Let's start with a dozen standard team roles assigned by Dr. Meredith Belbin, an eminent British business book writer, teacher and consultant. This classification appeared due to his research conducted in the late 1960s. The classification has passed the test of time and to this day is relevant on both sides of the Atlantic.

  1. Coordinator: Attempts to get the maximum benefit from the work of each team member, determines needs, forms a team, determines goals, monitors implementation, ensures the stability of the structure and is responsible for setting the task.
  2. Tester: Swings the boat - uses non-generally accepted approaches, questions orders, can be a source of innovative ideas.
  3. Expert: Provides expert advice and an objective assessment (for example in IT or calculations).
  4. Ambassador: Easily establishes contacts, develops external relations, understands the external environment, advertises the team.
  5. Judge: It is landed, logical and accurate - it listens, evaluates, weighs all the pros and cons, avoids disputes, seeks the truth, encourages the team in search of a better solution.
  6. Innovator: Is the source of new vision, resourcefulness and creativity - uses the imagination, motivates others, develops ideas, works with tasks. Demanding an integrated approach.
  7. Coordinator: Able to help, reliable, easy to cooperate - fills in the gaps, the master of all trades, does not question the decisions of the leadership.
  8. Artist: Thinking progressively, motivated, focused on tasks and results, watching time and progress, intolerant of others.
  9. Mediator: Focused on teamwork, fighting morale, resolving conflicts, giving advice, supporting and encouraging other team members.
  10. Supervisor: Checks whether a task is well-executed, monitors performance, requires high standards and focuses on quality in general.
  11. Revisionist: Monitors performance, demands feedback, looking for a trick.

Ideally, the proportions of the personalities of these types should be reasonably respected, since if there are more representatives of one type, this can create problems. Imagine a team of judges or testers! And remember that one team member can perform several roles at the same time.

So do not worry if your team has several people for one role - this can also be used. For example, you can break a team into smaller subgroups, each of which will deal with certain aspects of the work and thus contribute to the common cause.

What to do next

Check out the team building stages

Since the formation of the team goes through a series of stages, and at each of them there may be a host of problems and tests.

For example, your team is trying to resolve an intricate dilemma, in the process of which, of course, conflicts and disputes arise. If you understand in time that this is just such a period of development of inter-team relations, and you won’t wrestle with how to reassure employees, you will be able to estimate the amount of work needed rather than spend time on conflicts.

Usually there are 4 stages of team development:
  1. Formation. Everyone is very passionate, everything is new and interesting, no one yet knows what he should do, but he doesn’t worry about it either.
  2. Excitement. Roles are distributed, personalities begin to manifest themselves, people are no longer so open to each other, they are worried about other people's abilities, and this provokes conflicts that can come to the surface if you do not stop them at the hidden stage.
  3. Ustakanivanie. Mutual trust and confidence are returning, relationships are strengthened, someone else’s opinion commands respect, all issues are resolved easily. Goals do not seem to be unattainable, and everyone tries to work smoothly in order to achieve them.
  4. Execution. The team becomes flexible, everyone takes on leadership in turn, authority is delegated so that team members grow professionally, current goals are achieved and progress is very tangible.

At the stage of settling it is necessary to push the team in the right direction.

For each team, you must define a vector. Vectors are like guides, and each member gets his own such guide, guided by his own ideas, thoughts, and aspirations. It would be disastrous for a team if all the vectors were directed in different directions, and even if one of the team members moves in the opposite direction, it can serve a disservice.

One of the primary tasks of a project manager is to make everyone move in one direction in order to achieve common goals - this is called “focus”. Although it is obvious, it still surprises the number of projects that fail due to the fact that team members are pulling the blanket over themselves, and no one really reacts to it.

The best way to build such vectors is to create a climate in which errors and failures would be noticeable and would be considered as a useful experience (and not a reason for punishment), and in which every participant in the work process was aware of everything that happens. Here is a list of factors that help establish such a climate:

What motivates and what annoys team members

Motivation is extremely important for the team to work efficiently and harmoniously. Motivation studies show that motivators and demotivators are not really related things. Something that can motivate people and fuel their enthusiasm is not always the case, in the absence of which they will feel dissatisfaction, discontent and apathy.

Here is a list of ten motivators for members of the project team and ten demotivators.



(From the book of RJJurzak “Motivation in Projects”)

Keep in mind these lists, go through the list of employees with them and think about what could best promote each of them individually or in small groups. Then think about which of the demotivators are present on your project. Finally, think about how you can enhance the effect of positive phenomena and reduce the impact of negative ones.

Delegate, but do not forget to control

Delegation of authority is another essential tool for managing a project team. Distributing tasks - which is the essence of delegation - seems to be very simple, but not all cope with this, especially at the beginning.

Transferring duties over time is becoming easier, and it really helps to successfully lead the project. Here are some practical tips:

The secret of successful delegation is to feel in the shoes of team members. Let's say you are an experienced and responsible professional, you are well-versed in your work and love it, but above you is a project manager who constantly peeks over your shoulder, ready to criticize your next step in advance! Or, for example, you are quite a novice, unsure of yourself, your abilities and responsibilities, and above you is a leader who washes his hands and waits for you to swim out, or drown. How would you behave in each of the situations?

Delegation requires the right balance between control and independence

Therefore, in addition to delegation advice, remember the rules for monitoring compliance.

Usually, the intensity of control depends on experience and motivation:

Quickly resolve conflicts

Projects are a conducive environment for conflict. This is because they imply temporality, and the circumstances within them are constantly changing. Unresolved conflict can be extremely destructive, so that any disagreement should immediately respond as follows:

What to avoid

Non-involvement of colleagues in initial planning

Setting all the rules yourself, dictating methods without discussing with the team is a search for trouble in your head. You have gathered these people together, because they are experienced and well versed in their work - so involve them in the common cause from the very beginning. They will not only provide information and useful ideas, but also feel like co-authors of a general plan, which will help them to follow it in the future more responsibly and invest better in the project.

Giving up leadership

On the other hand, a team is not a council or a committee to collectively manage a project. You are still a leader, and you are expected to direct all the efforts of the participants in the right direction, putting all the useful ideas and experience that you have at your service to the common cause. The best way to maintain team consensus is to get everyone involved in planning at the outset, explaining the scope of work and the scope of the project. It is imperative to get comments and comments, and then, keeping them in mind, reconsider the final tasks with those who will carry them out, and correct the plan so that it suits everyone.


Just forget about it. You can not keep track of every little thing on their own. Moreover, your team will lose all interest in independent work. Most team members take pride in choosing them for the project, and this helps them accomplish their task. Use it. Transfer tasks, assign individual pieces of work, monitor implementation properly, but focus on the project as a whole - do not lose sight of the whole picture. This is the job of the project manager.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/103141/

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