As corporate culture consultants, we see a lot of organizations with talented people who are operating in silos. Many times these silos develop over time for various reasons. It may be territorial actions to protect turf, a result of people being hyper-focused on what they need to accomplish, or a lack of executive focus on creating a big picture that everyone embraces and sees themselves in. Whatever the reason, these silos become major barriers and impact how effective the organization and its teams can become. Leaders must be able to recognize them and give significant attention to how to address them.
Here are four major reasons to tear down silos.
Silos can lead to:
Silos are usually a signal of a culture that is not aligned with the strategy of the organization. Thankfully, more leaders recognize that the culture of an organization is the driver of the strategy and when the two are not connected it has a direct effect on engagement and productivity. In the complex nature of today’s business environment collaboration can be critical to performance. Collaboration allows people to have a common goal and work together to achieve it in a more efficient manner. A Work.com study found that 97 percent of employees and executives agreed that the level of collaboration directly impacts the outcome of a task or project.
Four ways for leaders to improve collaboration and performance
Some of the behaviors that align with collaboration are being open to ideas, respecting the priorities and time of others, taking responsibility for your actions and being responsive to requests.
Imagine if most teams and organizations made collaboration a value that they reinforced and incorporated into their culture.
Consider a small business, which has grown to the point where the team finds it difficult to achieve the same results they once enjoyed.
As a leader, you see some changes in behaviors in various departments. For example: the sales team has grown complacent. They were used to taking orders The leadership team decided they wanted an aggressive and tenacious sales force in order to get new business. Because there are so many different angles to approach this problem it can be overwhelming for small businesses to determine how they should proceed.
To begin, they need to look at the common connection between strategy, values, and behaviors.. Here are four steps to help businesses to drive new behaviors.
Imagine a job where you get to wake up energized, knowing that you are walking into a place where there is camaraderie and a collective desire to achieve. Not only that, but you get to do what you do best and feel free to offer your ideas as well as constructive feedback.
At a recent workshop, we asked participants if they had ever worked in such a place. A few raised their hands.
However, without exception, everyone had experienced the 'siloed workplace', where everyone stays to their part of the plan and people don't share information or help each other. Meetings are not very productive. People are given assignments that don't play to their strengths and they are put in positions outside of their comfort zone with no support. What's the difference in these two scenarios? Culture, the fabric that holds the organization together, the values, systems and behaviors that guide how people interact and drive performance. You could have the same people with the same mission, but with very different outcomes.
Many leaders are in a quandary as to how to improve performance, i.e. productivity, profitability and retention. As a result, they start with the visible elements like tasks, roles and structure, but most don't address the root of the issue: culture. This is precisely why culture was named the top issue of 2015 for HR leaders by Deloitte.
Why is culture important? Because culture is the path to realizing the business goals many leaders and organizations strive for by addressing the needs and motivations of their employees. So, what do employees need?
Employees need to see commitment to their development and well-being from the organization and its leaders in order to fully commit to the success of the organization. According to Gallup, the most predictive indicator of engagement is agreement with the statement, "At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day." Leaders who recognize the wisdom and business imperative of addressing the needs of their employees, as well as the organization's culture, see the benefits in measurable ways: less absenteeism, higher customer loyalty, more engaged employees and more innovation. Culture matters.
Mimi and Randie
Mimi and Randie are principals of Merzad Consulting. They possess a limitless appetite to find simple and fun ways to bring learning to organizations. They believe organizations achieve maximum productivity when their leaders value the strengths and interests of their team members and leverage their complementary talents and contribution. They are most passionate about creating high performing, innovative and collaborative cultures that harnesses the untapped potential within the organization. They specialize in the development and alignment of high performing individuals, teams and organizations.