This month The Magnificent Chameleon has been exploring the world of The Silo and has some advice to share about how to vanquish this particularly frustrating and destructive villain.
What does The Silo do?
The Silo has the potential to work in any organisation, large or small, creating barriers and encouraging turf wars, causing people who are on the same team to work against one another. The Silo is often found at large in places where direction is lacking and confusion reigns. Once established, The Silo wastes resources, damages productivity and endangers the achievement of business goals.
How can you tell if The Silo is active in your organisation?
A clear sign that The Silo is at work in your organisation is when divisional competition and infighting has taken over from focus on the organisational goals. Teams are pulling in different directions with their own agendas regarded as top priority at the expense of all else. Finger pointing and blame are rife. Attention has moved away from customers and competition and focuses more on battles over budgets, titles and who is responsible for mistakes. Battle lines are drawn; Head Office vs. Field Teams, Sales vs. Engineering. The Silo can cause professional anxiety and exasperation, leading to increased turnover of staff.
Here’s what you’ll see and hear:
Teams working in isolation on the things that are important to them but perhaps not so important to the organisation as a whole.
“This is our priority and we’re not changing it for you”
Team members are not aware of what’s going on in other departments within the Organisation.
“No one told me that!”
More energy is used focusing on internal battles than external issues like customers and the competition.
“I can’t believe that sales/ engineering/ ops/ marketing
have done that to us again”
And then there’s the ‘us versus them trap’!
The Silo will sometimes lay the ‘us versus them trap’ to ensnare you. This trap causes colleagues from different departments who should be working together, to blame others for the things that go wrong and find fault rather than finding ways of working together.
Once you’ve identified The Silo is at large, how do you stop their destructive and villainous ways?
Here are 7 tactics you could try……
1. Actively break down barriers. Provide people with a compelling reason to work together on projects that positively affect the whole organisation. Without a clear reason and context, people can get lost and start to work at cross purposes.
2. Agree a business wide shared focus. In his book ‘Silo’s, Politics and Turf wars – a leadership fable about destroying the barriers that turn colleagues into competitors’, Patrick Lencioni suggests creating a common sense of purpose, a rallying cry which he describes as a Thematic Goal.
3. Ensure that the leaders of the organisation get involved. Clearly establish top priorities that are shared by the whole leadership team
4. Encourage teams to adopt good behaviours that can stop The Silo in its tracks. Be curious about other people and teams, ask questions, listen to responses and see things from a different angle to gain an alternative perspective on the things that you already know.
5. Once The Silo has been spotted, create a sense of urgency to counteract their destructive influence. Work diligently as a team to break down the barriers that are starting to rise.
6. Communication is the enemy of The Silo. Hold regular updates with the whole team so everyone gets to hear about businesses priorities, how things are going and how they are all contributing to the bottom line.
7. Create opportunities for teams to share their priorities with others and understand how they can work together towards common goals and aspirations. Big Picture works brilliantly with this tactic.
What do you do to keep The Silo at bay?
We’d love you to share your experiences and join in the conversation by hopping over to our Pants People Group on Linked In; we’re talking about The Confidence Crusher next. We’d love you to work with us to help organisations banish these villains once and for all……go on, grab your mask and cape and be a superhero!