Run a company in which the employees work in harmony and in autonomy: you may dream of it.
You see a solution to the mass of time-consuming tasks who assail you as VSE or SME manager. Set up a new form of management so as not to be an overwhelmed man-orchestra.
The transversal collaboration, or even cross-functional management, is of great interest to you. However, you are wondering about this transversal management : what disadvantages does it imply? In which cases to put it in place? And, above all, how do you ensure that your employees welcome it?
Transversal management: definition
But, in fact, what exactly is transversal management? Let's make a point to clear up any misunderstanding.
An alternative to hierarchical management
Currently, your company may have a style of traditional management, i.e. hierarchical.
In this directive system, the manager gives tasks to the employees and tells them how to perform them. Each employee is accountable. In VSEs and SMEs, the manager is sometimes the entrepreneur himself. It's you.
To caricature this system very badly, it's a bit like leading a bunch of lemmings. 😉 Your employees are not always aware of the meaning and the stakes of each action and they can go up against the wall without realizing it.
Cross-functional management works without hierarchical link.
Non-hierarchical transversal management: operation
In a transversal system, your teams work together. These may be departments or employees with different skills. They work together to achieve a common goal when no hierarchical link unites them and they may even belong to different departments.
This does not mean that they do not have their own supervisor. But, within the framework of a transversal management, they evade the authority of this one. A manager says transversal steers this gathering of employees.
Thecross-functional management organization chart below shows you how this system works:
This management method can work as well for ephemeral work groups as for sustainable projects. We also note that certain functions are in essence transversal in a company. What is a transversal function ? This is for example management, finance, human resources, etc. Because these are functions that naturally lead to transversal communication and sharing of means and resources.
Obviously, depending on the size of your company, this management takes different forms. If you run a VSE, you probably have employees who provide a service on their own. In your case, transversal management could be that much easier to set up… provided you know how to go about it. 😉
Towards participatory management?
Transversal management decompartmentalizes services and leads to more flexibility and autonomy. The participating management go even further by involving employees in decision-making to achieve business goals and solve business problems.
This type of horizontal management relies on thecollective intelligence !
Transversal management: what disadvantages and what advantages for you? Is this type of management suitable for your structure?
What are the applications of transversal management?
There are several forms of transversal management. They serve different purposes.
In this context, transversal management is often ephemeral.
You bring together several collaborators or several departments in order to carry out a well-identified project (for example, delivering a product to a customer). There is a deadline.
Sometimes it even involves other companies. We then speak of inter-company collaboration. I will tell you about it in a future article.
This type of management is by definition transversal. In any case, it seems logical to approach it this way.
Indeed, process management consists of mobilizing all sectors of a company to improve systems on different levels: customer satisfaction, human resources and, in general, overall business performance.
This type of management is more frequent in large companies which have several strategic activity sectors (in English business unit), because it is a question of granting teams with very diverse and scattered means and resources.
This type of management is very present in our era of digital explosion.
It is also very interesting for you as a VSE or SME manager.
In this context, you or the person you choose as transversal manager brings together people with similar professional interests (skills, logistics, etc.). It ensures the dynamics of the group, creates spaces for sharing, puts professionals in touch.
In this type of management, you exploit collective intelligence even more since you will seek the skills and knowledge outside the company. The goal remains the same: performance and the achievement of your objectives.
Here too, you can use inter-company collaboration.
It is possible that the Covid 19 pandemic forced you to adopt the teleworking for your employees.
In this case, the transversal approach of this management method will be very useful to you. The levers for teleworking management are in fact identical to those for cross-functional management. They require great confidence in your employees. They promote autonomy and communication. The business leader or the transversal manager must learn to lead his teams in a more horizontal way.
Transversal management: what disadvantages and what advantages?
Concretely, what does a transversal management system bring you compared to hierarchical management?
Cross-functional management: its advantages
The big advantage is obviously mobilize skills for the benefit of an objective.
Whether you are managing only internally or looking for talent outside the company, you benefit much better from a emulation and mutual aid effect between employees and departments. This is all the more true if your culture and corporate values are well established among your employees.
Collective brainstorming and meetings between people who are not used to working together promote inventiveness and creativity. They allow problems to be approached from new perspectives and to develop new solutions. While employees who always work together tend to take the same paths to achieve their goal (and always face the same unresolved problems: remember our famous lemmings 😉).
The limits of transversal management
The drawbacks of this type of management are more complex in large structures. Indeed, if your company has several departments, there may be conflict of authorities between the transversal manager and the direct manager (s) of the employees involved in the process. I refer you to the organization chart given above.
The relationship between the different people involved needs to be clarified. Theorganization and the communication must be fluid for everything to work at its best. I often notice a problem when the transition between hierarchical management and transversal management was made too quickly, without having given everyone the time to prepare (organizationally, but also psychologically).
Moreover, as a business leader, you may also have a little trouble making this transition, even if you feel like it and the initiative comes from you!
Which brings us to this crucial question: how to make this transition under the best conditions? Under what conditions can transversal management succeed?
How to promote transversality in the company?
Transversal management: what drawbacks must we overcome in order to mobilize all the players around this important change? As we have seen, it is an organizational as well as a psychological question.
Making a transition between directive and cross-functional management is relatively delicate. I see several levers essential to the success of the process.
Empathy between leaders, managers and employees
You will redefine the sharp boundaries that exist in a vertical organization. For everyone to find their place in this new organization, you need to know put yourself in other people's shoes.
Your challenges as a leading entrepreneur must be clear to your employees. Conversely, you and your potential managers must understand the difficulties encountered by your employees when you ask them to adapt to and invest in a new reality.
External help is often welcome in this context. A management coach can help you throughscenario exercises.
Valuing your employees
Cross-functional management requires more investment from your employees. They receive less direction and have to show more initiative. They are no longer content to simply apply instructions, they get involved in issues, difficulties and solutions.
In normal times, it is already essential to value the work of its employees, but it is even more necessary in this new context. Give feedback to your employees. Showcase and reward achievements to motivate your team. Show them your trust : it is essential.
It is excellent for the well-being of your employees, so for theworking environment, productivity, efficiency and performance!
The meaning of the actions and objectives of the company
In highly hierarchical structures, employees sometimes do things without knowing why… They do it because their supervisor tells them to.
In transversal management, this is totally impossible. How to show initiative and creativity when you do not understand the issues? Every action and every goal must make sense.
This does not only concern the collective challenges of the company. It is also important to give a personal motivation to your employees. What do they have to gain in exchange for their investment (which, I remind you, is necessarily more important than in old-fashioned management)? More skills, more remuneration, more recognition, ambitious challenges?
Cross-functional management: what disadvantages can your employees accept and under what conditions?
With cross-functional management, you will ask your employees for more. You will especially ask them to change their habits and we know how difficult it is for everyone. Know how to convince them!
Cross-functional communication, the backbone of management
Wanting to manage transversally without modifying and improving business communication is very risky.
Understand that you are going to bring together people who do not usually work together. Your role as a leader (or the role of the transversal manager if you delegate this responsibility) is to disseminate information equally among all. You must provide them with all the elements: the objectives (and the why of those objectives), the results (as and when you have them), the methods of each other, the modifications, etc.
Communicate in all directions, it's the sinews of war!
Time, for you and for your employees
You know the expression: "Rome was not made in a day"? Don't try to radically transform your management. Especially not to impose it on your team. If you do this, you are going to face an outcry!
Humans are made this way: they don't like change. Let us add that French entrepreneurship is very much anchored in a hierarchical management model. It takes time to get people used to other processes.
In fact, you too may need to adapt to new ways of running your business. Cross-functional management will require a new organization, another timetable (lightened, I promise you!) and new reflexes. Are you ready for this?
Managing is not an easy task for a business leader, especially when he has not been trained in this (which is often the case for VSE managers). Transversal management, by its flexibility and its "agile" side, perhaps tempts you. It is synonymous for you with decrease in time-consuming managerial tasks that is your responsibility every day. But it must be operated with intelligence to be well accepted by all.
Transversal management: what disadvantages are you going to have to overcome? For what advantages? How to guide your employees in this important step?
What if you were considering a transversal management training to make this transition a success?
I am executive coach, specialized in management, strategy and business organization. I support you at the same time:
- to structurally operate the transition to transversal management that will be well accepted by your employees;
- to help you personally adapt to these changes psychologically and organizationally.
Contact me for a first interview completely free !