Tips for managing a cross-functional team
This sounds very self-conflicted. But it’s not. I’ve found that with a project team of highly skilled people, there’s at least a few people that will *really* bug you. They’ll get under your skin and annoy you in team meetings. The project manager’s first instinct is to “deal around” them. In other words, don’t get them involved important aspects of the project. Leave them out, don’t ask them questions, don’t get their opinions. You’re hoping that maybe they’ll get the message and leave the rest of you alone.
This is absolutely the wrong thing to do. You need the pests, you want the pests, the pests are your BEST friends! LOVE THE PESTS! Don’t get annoyed, simply smile and say “thank you!) When these people annoy you and the project team, they’re showing a unique quality that will, most likely, be very useful to everyone.
The best way I can think to explain what I mean is by picking a few personalities that stick in my mind. These are my recollections of real people, and there’s a chance they’ll recognize my description of them. That’s OK. They know we’re all friends that worked long and hard together.
Here are some of the best and most frustrating team mates I’ve ever worked with
ANNOYING TEAM MEMBERS
Always Wanting More Detail
I must say this is typically considered an engineering oddity. I have it myself. Some of the best engineers are NEVER EVER satisfied with the information they have. This behavior isn’t just restricted to engineers though. But, when I’m typing this, I’m thinking of our reliability / maintainability person. He never had enough detail to calculate reliability numbers or to insure we met our maintainability goals.
Whiner / Complainer
These folks will complain about every step in the project, every deviation, every change, everything that’s not what they think it should be. These folks are the first choice to work-around, do without or leave out of any project decision. That would be a big mistake. Here’s a few test cases:
These folks want to negotiate every detail in the project. “Can’t we do it differently – everyone does it this way?” “Let’s get the two teams together and work out a solution.” This is *after* it’s all be decided.
THE LIST GOES ON AND ON…
We all have a list like this of different personality types we’ve worked with on teams. The key is when the annoy you and everyone on the team -- remember this when you DON’T like them. But sooner or later, this person will help the project a great deal.
Embrace the jerks on your projects – they may be your best friends!
Please comment with a list of your favorite project jerks! And remember that's what you like them for.
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Tips for Managing a Cross-Functional Team
LOOK FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD
My goal is to communicate the challenges, fun and “things that have worked” in managing projects team that has widely different backgrounds, experiences, education, and understandings. Informational diversity is based on different functional, educational and industry backgrounds that constitute information and knowledge resources upon which the team draws.
THE TIME V. INFORMATION DILEMMA
The project team members should be cognizant of other parts of the project – this is especially true for cross functional teams, or teams with high informational diversity. Not only that, but the project manager should know exactly how the project is doing. The Project Manager must understand the course the project is going in and attempt corrections if things are drifting too far off.
The problem with this simple concept is that there is simply too much information to absorb for multiple disciplines and multiple projects. It’s in different technical languages, it changes daily, it requires an in-depth understanding of each discipline. The team doesn’t have time to learn how or what the other disciplines are doing and complete their own efforts. Even if that were all possible, not enough time exists to absorb the information and manage the projects
So, the question becomes, when managing a cross-functional team, what information, or indicators should be used to judge the health and direction of the project. It must be a subset of all the information the project team possesses. The key is to focus on “measures that matter.” And, to do that, it’s important to understand the differences between leading and lagging project information.
LEADING AND LAGGING INFORMATION
Lagging information is something that gives us a window into the past. It’s something that HAS happened. It’s nearly impossible to drive a car down a road while looking only in the rear view mirror, but that’s exactly what most projects do. They concentrate on LAGGING information.
Some of the most popular Project Information to be collected and digested fall into the LAGGING category. In other words, “How we did in the past, will tell us how we’re going to do in the future.” Ask yourself, is that true?
Here are a list of popular project LAGGING indicators.
Wouldn’t it be better to find, discover and measure LEADING indicators? Things that tell is where, to the best of our knowledge, the project is heading? Certainly! But like most good ideas in project management, it’s very difficult to identify and track leading indicators. But we must make an attempt.
It’s quite possible that a project’s best leading indicators are not a clear-cut single measurement. It’s more likely that the course and direction of the project is best determined by a function arrived at by examining several indicators at one time. Performance measurement “To-Complete-Performance-Index does this. But that method may not be a good fit for your project. You’ll need to explore and discover your own.
If you have predictive or forward looking indicators for the health of your project, you’ll be able to look in the same direction you’re driving your car in. That’s useful! It’s also very difficult to arrive at meaningful leading indicators. It will require a team effort, failures and patience.
Pay attention to the rail road crossing sign (leading information). Don’t wait until disaster strikes to understand your status.
TRY TO FIND AND USE LEADING INDICATORS FOR YOUR PROJECT
MEET ME IN SAN DIEGO NEAR THE PROJECTMANAGEMENT.COM BOOTH.
The first five blogs: