Team building is very critical in organizations, because it greatly facilitates the realization of set goals and objectives. In the modern world, many organizations have restructured their human resource departments in a way that promotes team work and cooperation.
This is what has made team building activities to become synonymous with organizations that want to leverage their employees’ output for mutual success. This paper extensively covers the role of cross-functional teams, in facilitating strategic innovation of an organization.
The importance of effective teams within an organization is a well known fact, especially in current day progressive organizations, that value the critical role played by their employees in the realization of set goals and objectives. It is with this knowledge that team building activities have become synonymous with organizations, that want to leverage their employees’ output for mutual success.
In line with this, the current environment, both internal and external to the organization, calls for constant preparation for imminent changes which are essential. Cross-functional teams and their role in aiding the strategic innovation of an organization are extensively discussed in this paper.
Key words: teams, organizational culture, organizational development, organizational change management.
Introduction and Thesis
Team building can broadly be defined as the activities that are carried out within a group of people either in a corporate set-up, in a school or institution, in sports, or any other setting that is aimed at developing the cohesiveness, unity, and most of all, the performance of the group.
The activities comprising of team building could be simulation games, simple bonding activities like games, and even retreats coordinated by team-building professionals that last for a number of days. Team building has a bigger aim of bringing together people, to improve positive communication, leadership building, self development of members of the team, and even improve the ability to solve problems as a team (Beitler, 2005).
Organizational Development and Teams
In efforts to develop the organization and its people to better meet its objectives and goals, there is need to have deliberate and effective teams in place. Effectiveness of teams can be measured by carrying out self-assessments of teams with the aim of identifying current strengths and weaknesses. It could also be a process that allows the team members to identify training and development options to take so as to strengthen the team, and also how to harness the already existing strengths for better results.
In effective organizational development, there is need for focus to be directed at the following factors; the organization leadership has to make clear the expectations in relation to results, the teams are supposed to be working on. Team members need to understand why the team was created and what its mandate is (Bert, 2010).
Organizational Change Management
There is nothing as constant as change, and organizations have to be prepared to deal with inevitable changes in their environment both internally and externally. Needless to say, change brings with it a lot of shake-up and impact in the way things are done; this is mostly for the better even though in the initial periods, this may not appear to be so. Organizations need to be well prepared for any eventuality and for change that is always around the corner (Boot, 2001).
Communicating Change to Employees
Organizations need to understand that new innovations and technologies, which affect the way things are done, and the way people behave, are always in the offing. It is therefore imperative that any one organization needs to find ways of communicating to their teams on changes that will come as a result of certain shifts in the environment.
This is where well structured team building activities are bound to work wonders, so that the people are prepared psychologically for things to come, and to be well aware of their role and importance in moving to the next level. In order for change to be effectively carried out, the change communication has to be carried out in a timely and precise manner.
There is need to identify the business unit or department that owns the particular change or process, identify the interlinked departments that will assist with the change communication and implementation, and choose management levels that will be involved, not forgetting to include Information Technology and Finance departments.
At the lower end of the chain and most important are the front office staff who will be dealing directly at first contact with clients and who will be required to communicate and do things in a manner to reflect the changes.
Resistance to Change
The above processes are especially important because there is bound to be some resistance to change which may drag implementation further, and cause more problems for the organization in the long run. This is the reason management needs to anticipate the challenges likely to be faced, well in advance, and put in place measures to mitigate this.
Depending on the target groups for the change, the effects this will have on a personal level and whether or not there is room for negotiations, depends on the various styles of change that managements may employ including collaborative, consultative, directive or even coercive.
Collaborative and consultative styles are lengthy and involve the feedback by recipients of the change, while directive and coercive are mostly communications by management to the staff maybe through memo or notices, informing them that certain changes will be taking place on a certain date, and why such changes are necessary, and urging them to comply and cooperate.
Communication is vital in all change management processes, the reason why collaborative and consultative styles would be favoured over directive or coercive, though, it also depends on the nature of the work being done and the people involved. Change management is a process that should be well thought through and planned in good advance, so that all parties involved come out unscathed and well prepared for the next phase of their jobs, careers and life in general.
The people likely to be affected by the change due to redundancies, relocations, acquiring new skill sets, training and many other situations, all need to get the necessary support mechanism for success to be realized. Preparing the people through thoughtful advance communication is just one step of supporting their adoption to the change(s).
Organizational Redesign and Restructuring
After the change management process, comes the organizational redesigning and restructuring. This basically means that, the organization now becomes a new brand with new ways of doing things. It now has in place people who understand this new brand and the direction of the organization, as they have been trained and prepared for the changes. It therefore becomes imperative that a new strategy that is aimed at more innovations and development of the organization as a whole is launched.
Restructuring within an organization shapes processes, ways of thinking, and even behaviors of the people. What is important to note here is that organizations should desist from copying what other successful organizations in the industry have done when redesigning and restructuring.
Perhaps, it is important to point out that organizational culture change is the most difficult kind of change to implement. This is because normally, culture is deeply rooted, and it provides consistency, stability and meaning to those within the organization. Attempting to change what people believe and have worked with for ages can be very frustrating and difficult (Beitler, 2005).
Organizational culture is historically rooted, implicit (unquestionable and complet), woven in every day activities, guides all decision making, leads to uniform thinking and behavior, and is used to socialize new staff members. It has not been reviewed or questioned for ages, and most people prefer to remain with what they know (status quo) as opposed to moving towards the unknown, making it difficult to change.
Strategic Innovation and Cross-Functional Teams
Change does not necessarily mean an innovation though innovations bring about change and improvements in the way things are done. Innovation is defined as going first where no one else has been, leaving the comfort zone and being a leader in a purely new concept and new way of doing things.
Innovation is not part of the business as usual annual plans of an organization; rather, research shows that successful innovation depends on the level of strategic alignment; that is alignment of corporate strategy, corporate culture and innovation strategy (Boot, 2011).
For innovation to be successful, it requires a specific innovation strategy and culture; it is all about how organizations deal with competencies and qualities to create innovation, how they deal with trial and error, how they deal with failure, how they use available resources, how teams are managed and many other factors.
In organizations, strategic innovation calls for cross-functional teams to work together in identifying new revenue streams, create breakthrough growth strategies, define innovative new products, services, processes and business models (Strategic Innovation Group, 2002). These cross-functional teams aim at taking the road less travelled in the normal business of the organization. They look beyond what they know to see how else business can be carried out in an open-minded and creative scenario.
The essence of building teams and the connection between teams and organizational change management, culture change management and even strategic innovation within an organization cannot be overemphasized. The stronger the teams in an organization are, the stronger its growth, development and innovation will be. The stronger the teams are, the easier it will be to go through change management and culture change management, as cohesiveness and unity already exists.
As much as culture change is a giant initiative, it is imperative that it is achieved, for realization of change management and innovation. Management in organizations should make it their priority to put in place strong functional teams and where necessary cross-functional teams, which will be instrumental in carrying out change initiatives required.
Strong and effective teams are pertinent within an organization, if it is to realize its objectives and strategy, be it in cultural change initiatives or when harnessing skills and competencies for innovation.
It is only when the people who make up teams are empowered and their potential utilized, that the organization will make strides towards realization of goals. Resistance to change is bound to take place at some levels, which may be contained through effective communication, restructuring and training.
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Bert, S. (2010). Implementing Organizational Change: Theory into Practice” 2. Web.
Boot, A. (2011). Leading Change: Three Major Misconceptions That Hinder Innovation. Web.
Strategic Innovation Group. (2002). A Framework for Strategic Innovation: From Breakthrough Inspiration to Business Impact. Web.