Podcast 025 – Breaking down Silos

Departments don’t work together effectively – they chase their own goals and their own objectives at the cost of the overall organisation’s success. Silos are one of the most common complaints we hear from organisations. In this episode we talk about how they form and what you can do about them. Corrine talks about how Yarra Valley Water brought teams together, Dominic recalls how he moved between two siloed teams and realised how they both blamed each other for everything that went wrong.

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Microphone   What Causes Silos?

Lack of Clarity of Mission and Strategy
If the organisation hasn’t got a clear mission, strategy, priorities, objectives then people will just make it up. They’ll do their functional work almost without referencing what the organizational collective enterprise view is. The reason they’re not doing that is because they haven’t got a clear enough view at that top level about what the mission is.

Where There’s A Silo – There’s a Split in the Leadership Team
Often in cases of silos, we find that there is a lack of alignment in the leadership team: misalignment of priorities, how they interpreted the strategy, or on the execution of it. What might start as a small gap between the executive team cascades down and gets bigger and bigger as it goes.

Needing to Compete and Standout
If you’ve got a very task-oriented culture – a competitive culture – leaders want to make their mark and stand out because that’s how you succeed and get ahead in this organisation. They want their team to be first or best and the team gets caught up in delivering their own objectives and their own priorities first. If performance is measured at an individual or team level, without regard for the bigger picture, then people hear that the only that matters is their own/own team’s performance and not actually the organisation. Remember: A metric isn’t the goal. Companies often have a lot of clarity around the number, but they’ve lost sight of the actual goal – the WHY behind it. (Check out our blog “KP’WHY’ not KPI”).

Silos Focus People Internally Rather than on Customers
Silos end-up dissipating energy in the organization because a lot of time becomes involved in managing internal stakeholders, issues between teams quickly get escalated so the two Execs or GM’s have to come together and try and arbitrate an issue. The worst part is: You feel like you’ve really achieved something when you ‘beat’ another team.

How Do You Fix Silos?

Get Clear on What the Organisation is About
The organisation and leadership team need to be clear on what the company stands for, what its goals are, what its prioritising, what are its objectives, and needs to be able to communicate that to everybody in the organisation clearly and repeatedly. 

Bring Teams Together
For example, Yarra Valley Water used to have open days were teams shared what they did with other teams – like a team expo. Some teams would invite speakers from other business units or invite teams to have joint meetings together. It’s about information sharing, understanding what you do, you understanding what I do, and how we impact each other. It’s amazing how many people in organisations don’t actually know what others teams do – so getting on the same page is often the first step.

Use Cross Functional Teams to Build Cross Functional Thinking
Look for some of the critical processes and vehicles that cut across everybody in the organisation. A good example is customer experience or certain operational projects or innovation. Build a cross-functional team around it and give team a goal a real goal – a business or an organisational goal – and start getting teams to start working together on something and incentivizing them (whether that’s financial reward or not). leverage the skills from different parts of the organisation in the one team.

Shared Goals
Make it a priority for the leaders of siloed teams to develop relationships with the other team. You can introduce it into their measures to make sure that I’ve cultivated a relationship with people in this team and my manager asks me how I’m going with it. Sometimes you’ve got to change the structure of how you’re getting work done you know through measures and metrics and goals to get a different behaviour.

Communicating the Big Picture
Often in a siloed organisation, the focus of what gets communicated is at a department or team level:  these guys hit their numbers, those ones didn’t. The message people hear is that the key thing is that we hit our number and forget the overall objective. If it’s all about ‘my number’/’your number’ where does the organizational view sit? Instead, leaders to communicate about the big picture – focus on the enterprise level and achievement of the mission.

Do you have a question you want us to answer? Email: podcast@human-synergistics.com.au

Listen to more Culture Podcasts:

001: Kick Starting a Passive Team
002: Dealing with Delegation
003: Telling Someone They have a Blind Spot
004: What’s Wrong with Being Competitive?
005: I have a Competitive Teammate – Help!
006: What is a Toxic Culture?
007: How Leaders Impact Culture
008: Is Culture / Climate / Engagement the same thing?
009: My Manager is Resisting Culture Change
010: How the Banks got here
011: Myth Busters: If I’m not Aggressive then I must be Passive
012: How Culture Works Pt1 – Overview
013: How Culture Works Pt2 – Mission, Philosophy, Structures
014: How Culture Works Pt3 – HR Systems
015: How Culture Works Pt4 – Job Design
016: How Culture Works Pt5 – Leadership
017: Rebecca Kardos, CEO Aurora Energy
018: Is Conflict in Teams Good or Bad?
019: Does Teamwork Work?
020: Tips and tricks for LSI Debriefs
021: Can you use the LSI for Recruitment?
022: Dear C.B., My Manager is Cold
023: Passive LSI Action Tips
024: Aggressive LSI Action Tips
025: Breaking Down Silos
026: SuperMind Neuro Science of Creativity
027: Conference Highlights
028: 8 Keys of Team Effectiveness
029: Coaching Questions for Passive Styles


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