Cross Functional Movement: Lows and Highs


Most organizations have a wealth of internal talent that desires development, cross-functional movement and advancement opportunities — talent that largely goes untapped.

Jaspreet, was very enthusiastic, after working for 4 years in a company she got the opportunity to look forward to a promotion, which would add value to her CV too as she has been working as a Quality Analyst in a BPO. The IJP on the intranet was flashing, which mentioned about the position in Employee Relation department a division of the HR department.

She applied, sent her CV, was called for an interview and was finally selected as Sr. Executive employee relations. Her boss the Head of quality department refused to relieve her from her duties and actually behaved in a very bad manner, there was no other problem, she informed him about the move and with his permission only she applied for this IJP. Since he was upset, Jaspreet informed the HR manager and explained her problem. Both the Heads discussed it privately and since the discussion was behind closed doors they never talked about it to her. Jaspreet, got the nod finally and joined her new department but it has been 3 years since then and the Head of Quality does not talk to her either. The cold vibes they exchange can be seen by one and all. The Head of Quality does not take any initiative in HR related things, be it Friday activities or any other employee engagement initiatives by the HR. He keeps it pending and postpones it till the time he is reminded again.

Through the grapevine, the message one gets is loud and clear and i.e. IJPs induce problems in the organization.

Have no idea what was the exchange of words between the two but the temperatures soar when both are present in one room which often happens during the monthly meetings.

I still wonder what is the problem in this case, why he (Head of Quality department) behaved the way he did, without any concrete reasons. Was he insecure? Or scared? But it all comes down to one big question, why?

Cross functional movements in many companies meet such a fate only; reasons may be different but unless the organization culture does not imbibe such initiatives the success ratio will always be in the doldrums.

What can we (HR) do in such scenarios? here are the solutions:

Organisation Culture: The sole responsibility cannot be handled by the HR people only, it is through team effort and the Top management needs to be involved too. A culture can be built, where people become more open for such job rotations or cross functional movements. Succession planning, retention, talent management, can be acquired through proper opportunities for development of internal employees, and one option is surely cross functional opportunities.

Prepare people for changes: What if we had a process and a system to inventory internal employees’ competencies and we held regular talent review meetings to discuss career movement and development for current employees? If all this could be done on a regular basis, No Jaspreet would have to ever feel the embarrassment. The review meetings can give you most of the things in black and white and it is either the HR department or the supervisor who can recognize the talents across the organisation. So, prepare your team leaders in order to make it successful and make sure that the human resource team is trained and prepared to assist leaders and employees with questions.

Grapevine: A very interesting incident happened, I joined the company and it was my 3rd day and very few people knew I was the newly appointed Director of HR. In the elevator this group was discussing an IJP we had rolled out, and the discussion was about how the new Director has already selected a person and IJP- was just a formality. And so I asked them whose name had the new Director recommended, so they all said, Bhavna. They also said that Bhavna was in fact the Director’s relative, which was obviously news to me as I didn’t even know Bhavna before that day.

Hence grapevine and rumors need to be taken care of when cross functional movements are to be decided upon, the matter should remain hush- hush before the formal communication goes out.

Proper structuring and planning: Generally Cross functional opportunities fail because of they are poorly structured and the planning is not done in time and in an orderly manner. Brainstorm, identify high potential employees, conduct review meetings, meet them at regular interval, create their IDPs (individual development plans) and then make a move.

Here is another example: Once this person was selected through IJP and was notified that the movement will take him to a level higher than the current one, very enthusiastically he informed his team members about the promotion and the functional movement. And when he was all set to join this new position in a different city he was told that the function was different but because he did not have prior experience in that area so he would have to join at the same level. So, then he just left the company.

These are just few solutions for a healthy movement across functions, cost factor, behavioral training, competency development training, and office politics-some of the things which are very important.

Share your experience, of your organizations, what are your initiatives in this area and how to implement Cross functional movement without much hassle.


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