You’ve no doubt heard the expression ‘working in silos’ – when one system, process or department works in isolation from the others. This common problem in organisations is more than a cliché.
A continual headache when I worked for a company that grew through acquisition; much of my time was spent uncovering barriers to employee productivity. More often than not I discovered that silos developed as the result of a conflicted leadership team. This was compounded when whole departments joined us from other companies; along with their managers who were now vying for position with their new counterparts.
Worse than teams working independently, we were dealing with a collection of mini empires, with everyone competing with each other and undermining company success.
When I’d go on the road and hold open surgeries or talk to teams, I would hear that employees had become frustrated with their department, and the organisation as a whole, because they could see the problems and felt powerless to do anything about them.
It was then – and it is now – the responsibility of the leadership team to recognise this and rise above it to create effective, long-term solutions that are scalable, executable, and realistic. Easier said than done when emotions come into play and senior managers believe their status, position and even dignity are under threat.
Over the years I’ve noticed that leaders naturally turn to their direct reports for guidance; and this is not always a good move. This group may remain loyal – you have a history after all – and you may share a common agenda to maintain the status quo. Nevertheless, in situations like these, individual interests are likely to drive behaviour; with outputs based on survival rather than the longer-term interests of the business.
So, my invitation to you is that you bring people together (regardless of their current roles and responsibilities) to think differently about the future, and to be aspirational while intentionally challenging the status quo.
Of course, the success of an initiative like that will depend on the willingness to have open and honest communication; as well as a commitment to considering the ideas of others.
This week’s link is to People Effect for executive directors who would relish the opportunity to do just that; with a group of genuine peers from outside your own organisation.