Virtual Coffee Session: How to Manage Operations Cross-Functionally

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Another fantastic and informative discussion this week on How to Manage Operations Cross-Functionally!

@Eric Hall @Melanie Rohat-Meheust @kim copeland and I were lead by the ever so adept @Briana Okyere through a lively discussion that, even though we are all in different areas, allowed us to see the similarities and exchange ideas. 


Ice breaker:


How to Manage Operations Cross-Functionally


Key Takeaways

  • Eric: Communication is key when it comes to cross-functional operations

  • Kim: You must have the right team in place because you cannot be everywhere at once. 

  • Sherri: Transparency is the most important element of cross-functional communication. Without trust, you cannot build.

  • Melanie: It seems like the most successful companies right now are those that have clear processes and systems in place to remain agile.

  • Kim: At the end of the day, you want to be able to rely on the process, and not one individual person.


Full Conversation:

  • @Eric Hall: Communication is key. Like most companies, we are all over the place. Our teams are located all over the world (United States, Australia, Canada, etc). Everything we do is remote. We’ve learned that we can all do our job completely remotely during COVID. And that has had a huge impact on us. We’re struggling with the lack of in-person communication. I have a service coordinator who works in the office most of the time and moving that communication to virtual has been a challenge. The right communication, tools, and processes are key to have in place. I try to touch base with each team member every day. And because I’m trying to grow my team, I’m doing my job in addition to others. If your company has the right infrastructure you can get things done pretty well. The time zone difference is a challenge. I try to just set time with people, and if I need something from somebody I make sure to get time on their calendar ahead of time. 

  • @Kim Copeland: Part of the operations team that I’m working with, we have cross-collaboration with finance. We have offices and teams whether it’s sales, finance IT or production to India, Hong Kong, London. My direct reports are in India, 10 ½ hours ahead of me. One of the things I’ve learned in this position is I have to have the right team in place because I can’t be everywhere at once. When I first started, my instant message for hangouts on google would go off at 4 am, and I realized that wasn’t sustainable. So I needed to make sure I had the right team in place, and then empower that team. Part of the reason we’ve been successful during the pandemic is we had those processes in place ahead of time, we weren’t building them later on. Besides empowerment, you have to set KPIs. Keep the lines of communication open and realize that you have to be flexible. Our terms and conditions for certain deliverables have had to be flexible during these times. The turnaround time and flexibility within the organization is key to success. 

  • @Eric Hall: When it comes to cross-functional communication, the CEO has to be positive. I’ve seen CEO’s be negative when presenting numbers and the company financials, and it lowers morale. As a CEO, when working with siloed teams, etc, it’s so key to be transparent, but you have to also provide solutions and a positive attitude when presenting negative information.

  • @Sherri: I share Eric’s attitude that a head office in another country can have a huge impact on how things work. For example, we had our head office in Europe and a satellite in North America. And the cultural differences can have a massive impact on communication. The time difference is a factor as well. I’ve been cross-functional in my role by working with sales, IT, and client success. We were hit differently with COVID- our product is deliverable in a SaaS platform, but it’s specific to legal departments. And legal departments are generally a cost center, so they often get cut in difficult times. To maintain communication, I do a scrum every day- and you can do this with every team, whether it be development or finance. That connection where people feel there’s an open channel goes a very long way. It’s those little tricks that I think are really coming to the forefront now. 

  • @Sherri: When it comes to communication from the top if you are addressing rumours on a conference call with your entire company, in my opinion, it is too late to address the issue. You have to remain transparent. No one does any good work when they’re feeling insecure. 

  • @Kim Copeland: Sherri hit on a good point on transparency. We recently learned that not being transparent will not serve you well. The team below the C-Suite is who holds up the day to day communications, and they must be as transparent as possible. Being in operations, I understand the language of both qualitative and quantitative data. And you need to be able to speak both languages clearly in order to be successful. 

  • @Sherri: You have to document processes. Because once you lose an employee you lose all of that institutional knowledge and it takes 10 times as long to gain it back then it would if you had just set aside the time to document,

  • @Melanie: when everyone works in one place, workplace issues can easily fall through the cracks. But if you have different geographies, and time zones, etc. It seems like the most successful companies right now are those that have clear processes and systems in place to remain agile. 


3 replies

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Awesome session as always! Thank you for posting these comprehensive notes @smcgurnaghan !

this is really useful! thank you for the notes! :)

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You should join the next session @rruzanna! You can RSVP here


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