Learn about the types of situations that call for a cross-functional team. Cross-functional teams should be built when a project has a defined scope, the scope impacts multiple functional areas, and when the expertise required to successfully complete the project is not available only in the group leading the project. Scope determines which functions are or are not impacted. Without a clearly defined scope statement, it’s going to be hard to gather resources since people can claim they have higher priorities and their area isn’t in scope. With a well-defined scope, it becomes clear whether or not you need a cross-functional team. If the scope calls for skills your team lacks or requires working with other groups, you’re going to have to build a cross-functional team. It’s rare for a team to have all the support functions and perspectives it needs for every project it works on. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. I was working on a major technology replacement. This required technology changes. It had telephony impacts. This project was going to change our financial reporting. It would have impacts on our call center, on our associates and their workflows. It was going to change the associate desktops. It was going to fundamentally alter our operations. We needed a big cross-functional team in that situation. I had another project where I ran a strategy and analysis team. We were going to make changes to the commissions we paid to some of our external agency partners. We own this function. We own the call center. We had the agency management function. The reporting was already built, so there would be no changes there. We didn’t have any technology changes we needed to make. We did not need a cross-functional team in that situation since we had all the resources we needed to make those changes. The easiest way to determine if you need a cross-functional […]
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Leadership isn’t just about standing up and speaking, it’s about weaving a story so compelling to bring everyone along the journey with you. Today’s post is by Paul Smith, thoughtLEADERS principal and author of the new book The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell. (CLICK HERE to get your copy). Good leaders ask, “How do I tell better stories?” Great leaders ask, “What stories do I need to tell?” Does that mean how you tell a leadership story doesn’t matter? Of course not. But if you tell an irrelevant or unimportant or self-serving story, it doesn’t matter how well you tell it. The story is more important than the delivery. And while great leaders need hundreds of stories, not all stories are equally important. I’ve interviewed over 300 CEOs, leaders, and executives in 25 countries around the world about their use of storytelling in business. Here’s my conclusion about the most important ten stories any leader needs to be able to tell at a moment’s notice: ONE: Where we came from (our founding story) – Nobody ever quit their job and started a company for a boring reason. Find that reason for your company’s founder and tell that story. It will infect everyone with the same sense of purpose and passion. TWO: Why we can’t stay here (a case-for-change story) – Human beings are creatures of habit. Change is an unwelcome visitor. This story provides the rationale for why change is needed and a real human reason to care.
Our reader poll today asks: How do you handle team members who have little aspiration for advancing their careers? I let them do their thing as long as they’re performing in the role 61.25% I show them the benefits of growing their careers and hope they latch on 28.68% I push them into roles of greater responsibility to drive their growth 8.78% I have no idea how to handle those situations 1.29% Educate on Growth. Most of you indicate you’re okay with letting your team members plug along doing their thing and not advancing their careers if they don’t have those aspirations. But ask yourself if you truly know that they don’t want to advance or if you’re making that assumption on their behalf because they’ve never asked about it. If it’s the latter, you might be doing them a disservice. Many people don’t know how to effectively ask about career paths and advancement. Some feel it’s risky and might seem disloyal to ask about moving into other roles that aren’t on your team. They might worry about repercussions from a request like that. Some more junior employees may not understand they have a role in advocating for their advancement and figure “well, when I’m ready, the boss will approach me.” If you’re making the assumption that they don’t want to advance, I’d suggest you validate that with a candid conversation. Who knows – you may have the next rising star on your team but they simply don’t know how to get started with advancing their career. – Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). […]
Learn what a cross-functional team is and why they can be so rewarding to manage. Imagine an orchestra made up of nothing but trumpets. Imagine a baseball team of all catchers. Imagine a medical team that’s nothing but radiologists. Those aren’t good situations. A cross-functional team is a group of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal. It can include people from finance, marketing, operations and HR, and other key functional areas. Employees from different levels usually participate on a cross-functional team. The team might include frontline operators, managers and directors, and you may have analysts and project managers on the team. There may be other job families involved. These teams can also include people from outside the organization like suppliers, customers, or consultants.
Everyone has horror stories about a micro-managing boss. Here are a few strategies to manage your micro-manager. Today’s post is by Victor Prince, a principal here at thoughtLEADERS. If you work long enough, you will have a micro-managing boss. They think they know your job better than you do. Maybe they had your job before they got promoted to management. They focus on how you do your job instead of on the results you produce. They think that because you are doing your job differently than they would, you must be doing it incorrectly. Micro-management is a big driver of dissatisfaction and attrition in the workplace. Here are 7 strategies to manage a micromanaging manager. Diagnose the Situation – Is your boss micro-managing others or just you? It is important to understand whether you are being singled out or if you are just one of many victims. If they micro-manage others too, it’s probably them, not you. But if you are the only one being micro-managed, it might be you and it is worth figuring out why. Perhaps your boss is just more interested in your job than others. Or perhaps, they think you need closer scrutiny. If your boss’s micro-management is due to problems with your performance, you need to surface that discussion with them and address that head on.
Our reader poll today asks: How comfortable is your organization with making decisions in the face of uncertainty? Very: Uncertainty doesn’t deter us at all from taking action now 24.22% Somewhat: We tend to try to resolve big uncertainties before acting 39.91% Not very: We’re really hesitant to act until we have a clear picture 27.80% Not at all: We won’t act until the vast majority of the uncertainty has been resolved 8.07% Uncertainty is always certain. 35% of you respond that your organization is pretty hesitant to act until uncertainty surrounding a decision is resolved and another 40% of you are somewhat hesitant. In theory it makes sense that we should wait to make decisions until uncertainty is resolved. In reality, the trap is that new sources of uncertainty emerge every day. You will never have complete resolution of uncertainty. Given that, it’s incumbent upon the leader to act based on the best information available, and, when new information comes to light, possibly make a different decision. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try to resolve uncertainty before deciding. Just realize when you’re reaching that point of equilibrium at which every element of uncertainty you resolve, an equal amount of new uncertainty enters the equation. Once you get there, make a decision and move forward. – Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!
Big business problems are overwhelming. Using a logic map to break a big problem into its smaller components can give you the clarity and understanding you need to solve it. At one point, I worked with a financial services firm and we had a program where we were making offers to consumers. When that program first launched, we were making about $5 million a year. The problem was, after a few months, we started losing $5 million a year. This was a huge issue and there were a lot of things that could have contributed to it. So we used the problem-solving process to get a better understanding of the issues that were really driving the problem before we rushed off to solve it. We broke the problem down by using what’s called a logic map. We looked at technology, training, systems, hiring, and processes. The good news is, once we broke the problem down, we identified the core issue. We followed the rest of the problem-solving process and turned that program around from losing $5 million a year to actually making $20 million a year a few years after that. Let me walk you through what a logic map is and how you can use it to break down your own problem solving. Let’s imagine we have a problem where profits are down. In the logic map, what we’re going to do is take profits and break it down into its component parts of revenue and cost. By doing so, what we’ve done is taken a larger problem and broken it down into smaller components. But those are still large issues to try and solve, so let’s use the logic map to break it down even further. We’ll break revenues down into volume and price and further break down our volume […]
The following is an excerpt from One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (you can get your copy here). This post focuses on the importance of making decisions. Enough with all the thinking already! Now you need to drive action. Ideas are great but someone has to put them in motion for them to be worthwhile, and deciding to do that is no easy task. Acting on a decision can be terrifying, especially in the case of large-scale change. Your decision may affect a significant number of people, and what if it is the wrong decision? What if things do not go as expected and the resulting outcome negatively impacts you or your organization? You could lose your job. Worse, hundreds of other people could lose theirs. It is hard enough to act on decisions when just facing your own insecurities. Throw the complexities of your organization into the mix and the angst increases exponentially. Politics, lack of resources, uncertainty, doubt, and fear all mess with our minds right when we are on the verge of taking action. However, I am challenging you to be thought leaders. Being a thought leader requires you to be bold. Your decisions must be clear and forceful. The “thought” part of the equation only gets you halfway to your destination. As my colleague Alan Veeck says “It’s good to have thoughts, but that’s not enough.” Being a true thought leader means you not only agitate for but also lead change. Such leadership requires decisive action on your part. You probably see it all the time—people and teams suffering from analysis paralysis. They are unable to make a decision and instead their organization languishes in the purgatory of endless Excel models. People fear making decisions. They sometimes believe, erroneously for the […]
Our reader poll today asks: Which function in your organization is the main driver of your business (they lead and everyone else follows)? Marketing 11.00% Sales 28.02% Operations 29.44% Finance 9.93% Research & Development 3.90% Product Development/Management 6.73% IT 2.12% Some other group/function 8.86% Who is the “alpha?” While there’s a broad mix of which part of respondent organizations “lead” the company, what you all have in common is there is one major function that leads decision-making considerations. What’s important for you is understanding which group is the “alpha” and what kind of dysfunctional behaviors or risks that can create. For example, if Operations is the alpha and they focus on efficiency and keeping costs low, make sure that doesn’t come at the expense of growth and trying new product ideas. If the alpha is Finance, beware of short-term focus on hitting this quarter’s numbers at the expense of long-term strategic investments. If the alpha is Sales, beware of driving top line revenue through discounting at the expense of having healthy profit margins. While it’s great to have one strong organizational leader, each carries its own risk. Assess that risk and make sure appropriate checks and balances are in place. – Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!
Getting promoted comes with an increase in power. Use that newfound power wisely. If you do, your leadership position will improve. If you don’t, it could spell disaster for you. Today’s post is by Victor Prince, one of our thoughtLEADERS instructors and co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (CLICK HERE to get your copy). Congratulations! You just got the big promotion to management. People now report to you, you have some budget, and you have some decision-making authority. In short, your new role comes with power. Just like electricity, power is a very useful asset but can be dangerous if misused. Here are 7 tips for how to use your power so you don’t abuse or lose it. 1. Don’t Use it for Personal Gain – Some potential pitfalls are easy to spot but many are more gray than black or white. What starts as “relationship-building” with vendors can slide into contract-steering after a few too many fancy dinners. What starts as “team-building” in the office can slide into inappropriate requests outside the office. Now that you have power at work, you have to keep a firewall between your work and personal needs so you aren’t seen as using your work power for personal gain. 2. Don’t Play Favorites – Now that you have power, people will ask you to use it to help them. They want a decision to go their way. They want more staff or a bigger piece of the budget. Whatever it is, you know and like some people more than others so you may unintentionally factor that into decisions. Favoritism is a slippery slope to trouble. People not getting favored treatment will notice and criticize you for it. People benefitting from your kindness may come to expect it. Stick to the facts and merits. Whenever making a […]
Our reader poll today asks: How does your organization approach strategic initiatives? We focus on a small set of initiatives and execute them quickly 31.46% We try to focus but often get distracted which leads to little getting done 27.70% We bite off too many initiatives and never finish anything 26.76% We rarely pursue anything strategic — it’s all tactical 14.08% Focus, focus, focus. 54% of you seem like your eyes are bigger than your stomach and bite off too many initiatives that the organization simply can’t get done. While it seems like you’re getting a lot done by working on multiple projects, you’re likely slowing your efforts down because you’re diluting your energy. It can be hard to say “no” to something so instead, try saying “not yet.” That will help you push off initiatives to work on later and overcome objections of people who feel like they’re being said “no” to. People generally respect and understand prioritization. Focus on a smaller set of projects, execute them quickly, and move on to the next batch. Focused energy drives speed. And for those who only focus on the tactical, focus on carving out time for a strategy session where you assess where you’re headed long-term. If you don’t set aside time for that discussion, you’ll always be working on the small stuff. – Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!
When scaling your consulting firm up from an individual to a team, you’ll have to decide whether to hire contractors or employees. Learn the pros and cons of each. When you want to grow your consulting firm, you’re probably going to have to bring on additional people. There’s only so much of you to go around. Make deliberate choices about whether the people you bring on will be contractors or employees. Ensure those individuals’ interests are aligned with yours. If you’re going to bring on contractors, you don’t run into all the employment and tax issues and they’re going to be a more flexible workforce. The downside is they can leave suddenly and they don’t always share your personal interests. If the people you bring on are employees, they’re dedicated to the work, but they come along with a lot of administrative issues you’re going to have to deal with. If you need someone who’s fully committed to building your firm but that person’s only interest is part-time work to supplement their income, you’re not going to be happy with that result. Ensure interests are aligned between you and the people you bring on. A lot of times I get people who say they want to work with me, and we run a training firm. They’ll tell me, “Well Mike, when you can’t do the training session, just throw me that gig.” The problem is, I don’t need people for bandwidth to do the training. I need salespeople. That relationship won’t work out, so I have to hire different people. I’ve chosen a structure where I have contractors. I don’t want to deal with the overhead. I don’t want to deal with the administrative issues. It’s great that I have contractors because I don’t deal with those issues. The downside is, sometimes I struggle to get my contractors’ attention and have them focus on […]