Aside from a lack of clear purpose, which we discussed last week, one sure recipe for disaster is when your leaders are not aligned to the purpose of the change. This cross-functional dysfunction occurs when your leadership team walks out of the boardroom without a clear understanding of how the change will impact them personally, and their organization.

Symptoms of cross-functional dysfunction:
• Conflicting priorities. Lower level employees are not in synch about moving forward with the change. One group behaves differently than the next and when they talk about it, they end up with more questions than answers.
• Lack of cooperation: Because expectations are not clear across the organization, cooperation is missing. For the change to be successful, teams will need to work together differently, but are unable to achieve this new state.
• Political positioning: Humans tend to be political beings. When there is a lack of alignment, people tend to take advantage of the gaps, and jockey for position. They want their voice to be heard over that of their peers because it benefits them or their organization.

Cross-functional dysfunction is relatively easy to fix – as long as you proactively take steps to recognize it and avoid it. Follow these steps:
1. Bring the leadership team together.
2. Ask each leader to describe how the change will affect their organization in terms of outcomes.
3. Ask them to describe how they will impact others on the team and their organizations.
4. Ask them to identify what they need from each of their peers to be successful.
5. As you go through this conversation, you will likely encounter gaps, issues, and risks that prevent success. Document these and work through them in subsequent meetings.

This approach works whether you are discussing structural change such as process or organizational structure, or you are discussing a behavioral or cultural change. Regardless, the key is to have the conversation in terms of outcomes – desired changes in results due to changes in process, structure or behavior.

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