There’s always one in every crowd, or sales / engineering team. It’s the individual who is fearless. He/she asks questions across disciplines, does research between meetings, has dialogues with team members in other disciplines and seriously colors outside the lines. They can lead. They can follow.
Who’s that individual on your team? Because invariably they are the go-to guy or gal.And if your team doesn’t know who these folks are, well, it’s time for you all to go back to the drawing board.
There’s a difference between team players and your cross-functional designee, aka go-to guy or gal. It’s sort of like a switch-hitter or an NFL player who plays both defensive back and wide receiver. Where do these Yin-Yang types come from? Because they are major assets to your business development strategy.
You know, a lot of times, these individuals don’t realize how valuable they are. That’s just the way they do things, they way they think. I was one of “those types.” Years ago, a department head told me “We need to get this done and get it done right. So we are asking you to head up this special assignment.” Until then, I didn’t have an inkling that how I went about things was different than anyone else’s modus operandi. In fact, I always felt that I was the last person to “get it.” So everyone else must already know what I knew. They didn’t.
If you are one of these cross-functional types, consider cultivating your skill set. Some of the traits that you have include:
1.)Ability to facilitate discussions
2.)Ability to think on your feet in a non-structured environment
3.)Ability to seek resources to enhance project outcomes
4.)Ability to see the next project beyond the current project’s outcome
5.)Ability to understand other disciplines, and – if you don’t – to ask questions to help you understand the perspective of other disciplines
6.)Ability to laugh at yourself and bring a sense of humor to your team
7.)Ability to make others work beyond their reservations
8.)Ability to provide vision to the scope of the project
9.)Ability to communicate up and down the management food chain (aka, fearless)
10.)Ability to get along with management tiers without succumbing to becoming political
11.)Ability to remain a straight shooter throughout
12.)Ability to maintain objectivity while keeping your eye on the horizon
If you find yourself getting thrust into these types of roles over and over again, perhaps management sees something in you that you don’t realize. These opportunities look great on your resume as well. So even if you feel you are taking on a lot of “extras” without compensation, your skill set is growing as a result of these assignments. In a sense you are getting on the job training, perhaps resulting in your next career move.
I recommend reflecting on your career path up until now and identifying whether or not you have found yourself as the cross-functional designee more than once. Assess how you can develop your skill set to provide greater value to your current organization and be more marketable to a new organization. If you know of individuals within your organization who have filled such a role, and perhaps have transitioned from engineering to marketing, for example, talk to them. Determine how they went about this transition and how they identified their skill sets.
What are you waiting for?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized Seller-Doer businesses, corporate divisions, and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page.
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