Have you ever had this problem with your teams? They are delivering well enough but they're not willing to become, in fact they are almost fearful of becoming cross-functional, because they are a developer/tester/BA etc and anything else is not in their job description. We see this a lot. It comes back to the rigidity of job roles and how we measure people against them.
How many combinations are possible using 6 LEGO bricks?
This question was first officially "answered" in 1974, and LEGO mathematicians arrived at the number 102,981,500. Mathematician Soren Eilers created a computer program, ran it for a week and ended up with a massive number: 915,103,765 combinations. I bet it's a similar situation with your teams' skills yet you probably have a handful of job roles describing them. Add to that, no two organisations have the same standard for any job role and no two people performing those roles have the same skills, experience or learning requirements but they have very standard job roles. So why do we measure people in such a simplistic way?
So if static job roles are limiting, what's the answer? We need a more dynamic way to describe people's unique skill set and the organisation's expectation of them. We still need a “container” for our skills, but we can add as we grow, updating our individual, team and corporate capability. Think Agile!
What are skills paths?
Instead of job roles think of real-time skills paths. Start with industry standard models (ie SFIA, SCRUM roles) and add any specifics to tailor them to each specific, cross-functional job role. That's the starting point - where you are today. Being modular allows the flexibility to grow and add new skills from the relevant model in real-time. People can now measure their skills, create their career paths and goals unique to themselves but just as importantly — aligned to team, project and corporate goals.
We call this a Skills Path because they it's based on the selection of skills and performance for both current and target roles. Like Google maps for your career, it shows where you are, where you want to be and waypoints on the route. If you want to take a detour simply add a new waypoint, for example additional skills you want to master. It transforms career development and performance management by giving people clarity and measurable goals.
A leader's job is to raise people's aspiration for what they can become, achieve and deliver.
High performers have aspirations. Whether they want to be the go-to SME or plan a stellar career move in another department, people can take charge of their personal development without the restrictions, (real or perceived) of their old-fashioned job role. A leader's job is to provide clarity and help them achieve, because when they do, your organisation does too.
Why not transform your old job roles and build a highly productive cross-skilled team of motivated people... we'd love to hear how you get on!