Creating alignment and collaboration in global, cross-functional teams
A Japanese pharmaceutical company increases team effectiveness after consolidating business units into global business support functions.
A Japanese pharmaceutical company wanted to move towards a model with strong, globally integrated support functions. This required working closely with new internal departments and in a matrix environment, as well as across multiple functions. Working together with—and in some cases taking business direction from—colleagues across time zones and work cultures presented new challenges and issues for everyone. One such virtually integrated group consisted of Procurement and IT teams that needed to meet to iron out newly emerged issues around roles and responsibilities, in addition to overall clarity about goals and improved global collaboration.
A face-to-face workshop led by Aperian Global was convened for all members of the group. In preparation, a global team assessment was administered to surface obstacles and suggestions for improvement. A few specific issues concerning team foundations and performance were identified, which allowed a laser-sharp focus for the workshop. Having a structured problem-solving exploration of options, along with the ensuing joint prioritization and decision making, resulted in a tangible set of solutions agreed to by everyone in the room. In addition, an exploration of awareness of differences in work styles allowed these business professionals to build trust and to understand and overcome barriers for communication.
The direction, consensus, and commitment achieved by having all members of the team together with their leaders in the room was powerful. Group members felt confident that they now had the tools and techniques to handle their differences in communication and decision-making styles, which would dramatically improve their effectiveness in daily business interactions. A short but precise list of actions with assigned ownership was created for immediate implementation, and decisions were made on how to move forward with solutions for a handful of relatively thorny issues.