Cross-functional management, also known as cross-functional management or horizontal management, refers to a management approach that involves working across different functions, departments, or teams within an organization to achieve common goals or solve problems. It is characterized by collaboration, communication and cooperation between different groups to create a shared understanding of objectives, priorities and responsibilities.
Transversal management involves breaking down the silos within an organization and encouraging individuals from different areas of the company to work together. This approach can help improve coordination, streamline processes and boost innovation by bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise.
Cross-management can be especially useful in complex projects or initiatives involving multiple stakeholders or requiring input from different areas of the organization. It requires strong leadership, effective communication and a willingness to work collaboratively across borders.
Vs hierarchical management
Hierarchical management is a traditional approach that emphasizes a clear chain of command, with decision-making power concentrated at the top of the organization. In a hierarchical management structure, employees are organized into functional departments or teams, and each department reports to a director who in turn reports to a higher-level director, and so on in the chain. Hierarchical management tends to be more rigid and bureaucratic, focused on rules and procedures.
Transversal management, on the other hand, is a more modern approach that emphasizes collaboration and teamwork between different functions, departments or teams. In transversal management, employees work together to achieve common goals, often breaking down silos between different parts of the organization. Transversal management tends to be more flexible and adaptable, focusing on innovation and creativity.
While hierarchical management may work well in more stable and predictable environments, transversal management may be better suited for more complex and dynamic situations where agility and innovation are necessary. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of management style depends on the specific needs and context of the organization.
Project management in a transversal context involves the management of projects that require collaboration and coordination between different functions, departments or teams of an organization. Let’s look at some key aspects of project management in a transversal context:
- Identification and engagement of stakeholders: In a cross-cutting project, it is important to identify and engage all stakeholders who may be affected by the project. This includes stakeholders from different parts of the organization as well as external stakeholders.
- Cross-functional communication: Effective communication is crucial in a transversal project. Project managers must ensure that all team members are informed of project objectives, deadlines and outcomes, and that communication channels are open and accessible to all.
- Shared objectives and priorities: Cross-cutting projects require a shared understanding of objectives and priorities across functions, departments or teams. Project managers should work with stakeholders to identify common goals and align project goals with the organization’s broader strategic goals.
- Project planning and scheduling: Project planning and scheduling in a cross-cutting context can be complex, as different functions, departments or teams may have different deadlines and priorities. Project managers should develop a detailed project plan that takes into account the different schedules and deadlines of team members.
- Conflict resolution and problem solving: In a transversal project, conflicts may arise due to differences in perspectives, priorities or objectives. Project managers must be skilled in conflict resolution and problem solving to ensure that project objectives are achieved and stakeholders are satisfied.
- Performance evaluation and feedback: Project managers have to evaluate the performance of team members and give them feedback on their work. This can be difficult in a cross-cutting context, as team members may rely on different managers or work in different departments. Project managers should develop an evaluation and feedback system that takes into account the different hierarchical structures and functional areas of team members.
- Technology and tools to support transversal management: Technology can play an important role in supporting transversal project management. Project managers can use collaboration tools, project management software, and other technology solutions to facilitate communication, track progress, and manage project tasks and resources.
Examples of transversal management
- Agile development: Agile development is a software development approach that emphasizes collaboration, teamwork, and iterative development. Agile teams are typically cross-functional and self-organizing, with members from different functional areas working together to deliver software projects in a flexible and adaptable way.
- Customer-centric approach: A customer-centric business approach involves placing the customer at the center of all business decisions and processes. This approach requires collaboration and coordination between different functions, departments, or teams in an organization to ensure that customer needs and expectations are met.
- Lean Management: Lean management is a management approach that emphasizes continuous improvement, waste reduction and customer value. Lean management requires collaboration and communication between the various functions, departments or teams of an organization to identify and eliminate waste and improve processes.
- Design thinking: Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that emphasizes empathy, experimentation, and collaboration. Design thinking demands that cross-functional teams work together to understand user needs, generate ideas, and prototype solutions.
- Corporate social responsibility: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is about integrating social and environmental concerns into business operations and decision-making. CSR requires collaboration and coordination between different functions, departments or teams of an organization to identify and address social and environmental impacts.
Qualities and skills of transversal directors
Cross-cutting managers must have a unique set of qualities and skills to be effective in leading cross-functional teams and projects. Let’s detail some important qualities and skills of the transversal manager:
- Collaboration and teamwork: Cross-cutting managers must be skilled at building collaborative relationships and fostering teamwork across different functions, departments, or teams within an organization.
- Communication: Effective communication is crucial in transversal management. Cross-cutting managers must be skilled in verbal and written communication to ensure that all team members are informed and involved in project activities.
- Strategic thinking: Cross-cutting managers must be able to think strategically and align project objectives with the broader strategic objectives of the organization.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Cross-cutting managers must be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances and be able to adjust project plans and priorities as needed.
- Conflict resolution and problem solving: Cross-cutting managers must be skilled in conflict and problem solving to address differences in perspectives, priorities, or goals that may arise in cross-functional teams.
- Project management: Cross-functional managers should be aware of project management methodologies and techniques to manage complex projects involving cross-functional teams.
- Leadership: Cross-cutting managers must be able to lead and motivate teams, inspire creativity and innovation, and create a positive work environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork.
- Emotional intelligence: Cross-cutting managers must have emotional intelligence, be able to understand and manage their own emotions and those of others, and establish positive relationships with team members.
- Cultural awareness: Cross-cutting managers must be aware of cultural differences and able to work effectively with team members from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
- Technical expertise: Depending on the specific project or sector, cross-functional managers may need to have technical knowledge and experience in a particular area to effectively manage cross-functional teams.
- In general, transversal managers must be effective communicators, strategic thinkers, qualified project managers and strong leaders to successfully lead cross-functional teams and projects.
- “Transversal Management: Definition, challenges and benefits”, from the Project Management Institute: This article provides an overview of transversal management, its benefits and challenges, and offers tips for effective transversal management.
- “Transversal Leadership”, Harvard Business Review: This article discusses the concept of transversal leadership, its importance in the modern business environment and offers tips for developing transversal leadership skills.
- Forbes’ “Bridging Silos to Foster Innovation”: This article explores the role of transversal management in fostering innovation and eliminating silos within organizations.
- “The Importance of Transversal Management in Business” by Executive Education at IMD: This article highlights the importance of transversal management to address complex business challenges and drive innovation.
- Workfront’s “Traverse Management: How to Manage Your Teams Across Functional Boundaries”: This article offers tips and best practices for cross-cutting management, including communication strategies, conflict resolution techniques, and project management skills.