How to Lead a Cross-Functional Team

By Leigh Harper, May 28, 2018

Cross-functional work is not our natural mode of operation. It’s easy to work in silos. We are aware of our objectives and the steps we need to take to reach them, so we focus—which is a good thing. What we sometimes forget, though, is that we are just one piece of a larger organizational pie. Make your next event a win for not only your events team, but the rest of your organization as a whole, by engaging and leading a cross-functional team. Here’s how.

1. Identify key players.

Make a list of every team in your organization that is engaged on some level for your event. Most events require manpower from the accounting, marketing, development and operations arms of the organization. Decide who would best serve as a representative for each of those departments and tag them for the cross-functional team.

2. Define goals.

Brainstorm all of the ways this particular crew of stakeholders can enhance the event. The development representative can advise about sponsors’ preferences and needs, marketing can hear firsthand about the programming they’ll have to write about and know how to pitch media, operations can plan ahead for how their team will need to be engaged. Plus, when everyone feels invited to the table, they are more invested.

3. Cast vision.

Gather your delegates together and help them see why their input is crucial to the event. Remind them that an event is a reflection of an entire organization, not just an events department or third-party agency. Having their participation in planning from the get-go is invaluable.

4. Meet efficiently.

Decide when and how often you need to meet. Don’t meet more often than needed—no one likes a meeting that could have been an email! Issue a call for agenda items several days prior to each meeting and bring a comprehensive agenda each time you gather. Ask questions. Listen. Make it worth the delegates’ time by being flexible and actually making some of the changes they suggest. Consider giving them a taste of the event by offering a fun teaser at each meeting —a video clip of the entertainer you have booked or a sample of food from the region.

You have a wealth of knowledge in the cubicles around yours—tapping into that resource will not only add strength to your event, but it will strengthen your organization as well.

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