Trclogo One way to improve alignment of teams to an organization’s overarching goals or mission is to create cross functional or interdisciplinary teams. Forming these teams can be time consuming but often results in worthwhile benefits to customers.

I witnessed effective interdisciplinary teams  during my time working at The Resource Center in Jamestown, NY, as a service coordinator.
The mission of The Resource Center is to support individuals with disabilities and other challenges in achieving maximum independence, contributing to their community, experiencing lifelong growth, and enjoying quality of life.

As a service coordinator, I worked with a caseload of about 20 individuals (“consumers”), helping to create and implement service plans to fit their unique interests and abilities. In planning with individuals and their familes or advocates, I had the responsibility of bringing together a team of people twice yearly for a service plan meeting. This team included people from departments within The Resource Center as well as outside vendors.

Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, counselors, residential staff, day program staff, in home health care providers, psychological services staff, employment coaches, and other service providers joined with the individual and their family to discuss the individual’s life goals in five areas: Living, Working, Learning, Recreation/Leisure, and Hopes and Dreams.

In holding service plan meetings, each team member contributed to a process that directly fulfilled the mission of our organization. In the conference room, where we circled the table, we were intent on fulfilling our purpose. The individual whose plan we helped to create was present, participating, a living reminder of our entire reason for being.

After the meeting, I wrote and compiled a Universal Service Plan, a mini-book describing the consumer and their history, preferences, and life goals. Each department used the plan to provide coordinated services to assist the person in achieving the life they desired. Every month, I met with the consumer to check progress, make adjustments when needed, and to help provide any additional services needed.

I don’t mean to paint a fairy tale picture of the process. Sometimes team members disagreed about the best way to help a consumer meet their desired outcomes. Sometimes families expressed dissatisfaction about a particular service or felt discouraged about the options available to them. At times, we lacked the financial or human resources to provide the desired services to the consumer.

The key is that we had a process designed to bring departments together to communicate about how to fulfill the most important work of our organization.

Have you participated in a cross functional or interdiscplinary team in your organization? If so, how did it help your team in aligning with your company’s overarching goals? What process can you implement to help the departments in your organization communicate about fulfilling the goals of your business?

This post was originally published at Mountain State University Leadertalk and is republished here with permission.