When you manage a cross-functional group, you already know to define everyone’s role and make each employee feel important. But here’s something you may not know: Some people may resent their place on the team.
On a cross-departmental team, it’s natural for each participant to think, “I’m critical to the group’s success. They need me.” A good team leader informs all the players why they were chosen for the group, and that fuels each person’s sense of purpose.
But problems can erupt if some members feel ignored or overlooked. You need to recognize the value that each person brings and ensure that everyone has a voice.
In the early meetings of any cross-functional group, stronger personalities usually drown out quieter teammates. Some assertive members will shut down their loudmouth peers by saying, “Hey, I’m here for a reason. Let me contribute.” But others will tune out and mentally give up.
Take these steps to democratize the proceedings and give every participant a chance to shine:
Hear all sides. Don’t let the group reach a speedy consensus without allowing everyone to chime in. Go around the room so that everyone has an opportunity to offer ideas, opinions and concerns. Dignify each speaker by listening and asking follow-up questions rather than issuing snap judgments on what you hear.
Encourage experiential sharing. Coach everyone to make comments that begin, “From my experience, I’ve found …” That’s an effective way for a diverse group to bat around ideas without stepping on each other’s toes.