I’m currently reading the book, It’s All About Work, Organizing Your Company To Get Work Done” by Clement and Clement. In chapter 7 the authors discuss their principle #3: Clearly define the nature of working relationships. They have simply and effectively explained how to avoid functional silos and how headquarters staff can work best with operational staff. From my communications with so many in management, working cross functionally is a major source of pain within organizations and only a very few companies have an understanding of how to improve working relationships.

In Post 12 of this blog, I originally attempted to deal with this topic but I defer to Clement and Clement for a more effective way of providing you both the reasons for defining relationships and details of the ways to get work done through or with assistance from other functional groups. Once you understand the relationship accountabilities and authorities, the general manager (ie: the manager with multiple functions reporting to them) should assemble his/her team and identify the diagonal and horizontal working relationships. I call these “touch points” because a person or persons in one function needs to interact with another function in some way in order to complete the expectations of their role. These touch points may be a procurement function needing information from a manufacturing function in order to deliver quality raw materials. Or a HR function delivering a system for performance management to all other functions. Or an accounting group trying to build a consolidated budget for review by senior management. The general manager must use the 8 “TIR” relationships as defined by Clement and Clement to clarify accountabilities and authorities at each touch point.

Working cross functionally can be challenging. If you want your company to be effective, do not avoid defining cross functional working relationships.


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