Join Daisy Lovelace for an in-depth discussion in this video Communicating across job functions, part of Communication within Teams.
- Bringing together a diverse range of expertise is a benefit of working on teams. As the team leader, how can you harness the strength? And what traps should you try to avoid? I'll walk you through some things to consider that will help you manage the communication in your cross-functional team. Take a few moments to consider the three Ps for each of your teammates, their prior knowledge level, potential reactions, and perceived benefit. Starting with prior knowledge level, a question to consider is what does each person already know about the topic being discussed? Is your team composed of subject-matter experts? If so, you can use industry language or jargon comfortably.
If some of your teammates are not as well-versed on the topic, you'll alienate them by speaking too technically. On the other hand, if you simplify the content too much, you may frustrate teammates by wasting their time with information they already know. Consider whether or not it would be productive to send background on the topic prior to your meeting. Or it may be helpful to have a quick meeting to bring some of your team members up to speed on the initiative prior to meeting as a group. There's a delicate balance to talking above people's heads and talking down to people, that you can manage by considering each member of your team's experience with the information that's being presented.
Another important consideration is the potential reactions people on the team may have to the information that's being discussed. If everyone's likely to be excited about the changes being proposed in a meeting, say you're discussing an unexpected bonus, you probably don't need to spend too much time thinking about this. But if it's likely that any of your teammates might be disappointed or frustrated by the meeting content, you'll want to think carefully about how you frame the discussion. And there will likely be situations where the reactions are mixed.
For example, if you're discussing a new product line, your colleagues from marketing may be very excited because it creates opportunities for you to increase market share. However, the new product may add to the workload of your colleagues in operations, who won't share the enthusiasm of the marketing folks. Last, but certainly not least, is the perceived benefit for your teammates. I'm talking about self-interest here. Does each person on the team benefit from participating in your effort? If so, how? Knowing what each person on your team stands to gain or lose can be a helpful insight for you as the team leader.
Is your team comprised of volunteers? Or is this something each person is required to do? Is this part of each person's core job responsibilities? Or is this an extra project that was lumped on their already very full plate? Taking time to consider the three Ps will help you think through how you'll communicate with each of your teammates, individually and in your group discussions. Thinking through each person's prior knowledge, potential reactions, and perceived benefit will help you manage your team more effectively.
- Defining roles and commitments
- Managing conflict
- Establishing and maintaining trust
- Creating a shared vision and focusing on objectives
- Providing feedback
- Structuring time for reflection
- Holding teammates accountable
- Communicating in face-to-face and virtual meetings
- Communicating across job functions and across cultures