In baseball, the greatest prospects are often called 5-Tool Players. These are individuals who excel at all of the critical skills required by the sport: throwing, running, fielding, hitting for average and hitting for power. They’re considered to be great because they can do all of those things really well. They’re not just great at one of them. So what does this have to do with business? Quite a bit, actually. As businesses grow, their functional areas can become silos of skills in a particular discipline, for example: accounting, sales, engineering, or logistics. This can pose a potential challenge when working with mid-sized to large corporations who often require a more comprehensive approach. Here are some steps to identifying and developing a cross-functional team that can be valuable to both the service provider and the client.
Overcome the silo mentality
As a corporate real estate services company, we have learned the value of a cross-functional approach. Building a team of players who are versed not only in commercial real estate, but also in finance, contract law, technology and operations, has been invaluable to our clients as they deal with the increasing complexities of workplace management. In many companies, the various tasks related to corporate properties are often split between operations, facilities, accounting and legal departments. This spread of responsibilities becomes apparent as businesses have begun to implement new technology solutions to manage the operations and finances related to their property portfolio. These initiatives are often managed under the CIO, with part-time support from subject matter experts in the various functional departments. The need for not only interdepartmental communication, but also process development and change management highlights a growing need within the company for 5-Tool Players.
Don’t confuse a 5-Tool Player with a Jack of All Trades
The complex balance between corporate staffing and headcount controls frequently conflicts with developing cross-functional talent. The challenge is further intensified due to the intricacies of each area of specialty. Often, a management development program will provide for the new hires to spend a few months in different areas of the business. However, with little time to gain a deeper understanding of the process within each department, we wind up with more “Jacks of All Trades”, than true -5-Tool Players.
Take advantage of opportunities presented
The new workplace management initiatives and pending changes to the standards for lease accounting present an excellent opportunity for companies to begin to develop a cross-functional talent team. Developing special project teams from the various support areas, and having them work together, can begin the necessary cross-pollination and education process needed to successfully build these multi-skilled teams. Utilizing more experienced employees who are well-versed in a particular area, or two, can help accelerate the development of these teams – getting them to 5-Tool Player status more efficiently.
A final thought
Most baseball teams are thrilled to get one true 5-Tool Player on their roster. But for a growing company, the ability to consistently attract and develop multi-disciplined talent can be critical to long-term success. This strategy also applies when selecting business partners. Selecting a partner who has a solid understanding of all the aspects of the business, and has the ability to address issues or solve problems between finance, technology and legal departments will ultimately increase the speed and quality of decision making and improve overall company performance.
About the Author
Lou Battagliese is a Founding Partner of Jackson Cross Partners, LLC, a commercial real estate company headquartered in King of Prussia, PA. The company has developed a Knowledge Based platform to support corporate portfolio management and strategic transaction execution. Mr. Battagliese leads a cross-functional team that has developed processes for data integrity for workplace management solutions and analytics related to anticipated changes related to accounting for leases. Click here to contact Lou Directly.