How do you establish your voice when working with cross functional teams?
For some of you, this idea is completely daunting. Why? Because cross functional teams have lots of “those” people on them. You know. Professionals from the “other side” of your organization: the people whose professional behavior intimidates you the most.
- First, because you do not understand the professional terminology which dominates the voice they collectively carry into cross functional conversations.
- Consequently, you feel excluded and marginalized but keep your feelings to yourself.
- Plus you do not want to ask for clarification, which – to you – broadcasts you are not smart enough to know what they are talking about.
So the choice you make is to have no voice at the table when participating on cross functional teams. Which, when you think about it, makes you a spectator rather than an active participant, doesn’t?
Also, for others of you waiting to be invited to establish your voice and express ideas or opinions, that invitation never arrives during most meetings. So, another form of having no voice at the table.
- While you understand the conversation and are not a spectator, “something” makes you hesitate. Pause. And then, take no action to move forward one millimeter beyond what is professionally comfortable.
- What is the root cause of your professional hesitation? Is it that you feel you do not have the rank or experience to jump into the conversation and wrestle with the senior members of the cross functional team.
And once again, the choice you make leaves you with no voice at the table when participating on cross functional teams. In this scenario, you are not a spectator but more of a passive active participant. Following through on deliverables behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight.
Then, some of you always dominate the conversation in any meeting. Rather than choosing to listen first.
- Mostly because you have an ingrained professional habit of making your voice heard. Rather than determining what voice is mission-critical on this particular team to foster successful communication and collaboration. Together.
- Thus, you put your own competitive nature before the team’s functional requirements. And consequently, the voice you become known for actually turns people off. Congratulations. You just have trained the team to tune you out. Always.
So once again, the important ideas you communicate are diluted by the total volume of perceived noise you make during meetings. After a while, team members do not expect you to make worthwhile contributions. And that is a tragedy.
Establishing your voice on cross functional teams, first and foremost, requires you to understand the professional voice you always bring to the table. And then leveraging your voice, together.
If any of you reading this post can relate to any of these real-life personas I describe:
- First, determine which persona best matches your own voice on cross functional teams. Not described here? Then write down how you describe your own voice.
- Then, at the next meeting, observe and listen to yourself. Regardless of whether you take an active, passive or dominating/domineering role. Write down everything you “say” and compare to how much of what you say is actually a contribution. Or an interruption of colleagues’ conversations.
- Finally, as you pay attention to “you,” consider this exercise requires you to do far more listening than you intend. As a result, you far better learn and comprehend the depth and breadth of what other colleagues have to say.
Because the key to establishing your voice on cross functional teams is allowing the team to create their collective, interactive, interoperable voice. Together. Establish your cross functional team’s collective voice, first. By better serving each other, you are better able to serve your clients together. One Millimeter Mindset™.
Planning your next team, corporate or association meeting? Engage me to present one of my One Millimeter Mindset™ speaking programs, workshops or mastermind groups. Delivered virtually or in-person. Contact me here.
Babette Ten Haken translates across unprofitable and unproductive communication and collaboration disconnects between the business-operations continuum. She is a card-carrying STEM professional and left-brain thinker specializing in cross-functional leadership, new product development and professional innovation. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ virtual and in-person speaking programs get everyone to where they need to go, together: one millimeter at a time. Optimize strategic business and human capital value in your organizations. Build trust to retain employees and clients co-invested in each other’s success. Her playbook of cross-functional tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact Babette here.
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