It has nearly become cliché to hear from organizations that “our sales staff cannot stand to work with those service guys,” or “we have people inside our department who just won’t communicate!”
Many teams struggle with situations where different departments, or even people or groups within the same department, do not communicate successfully.
A recent American Management Association survey found that 83 percent of executives said silos exist in their companies, and 97 percent think they have a negative effect. But whatever has led to the formation of those disconnected cliques or silos in your organization, the answer is NOT to break them down or destroy them.
Patrick Lencioni writes that “silos are nothing more than the barriers that exist between departments within an organization, causing people who are supposed to be on the same team to work against one another.” But silos and cliques are often mistaken for barriers that need to be torn down.
Silos are essentially the cylindrical towers commonly used for bulk storage of grain, sand, coal, cement and even wood chips. Silos on a farm are created to segregate and protect resources, like specific types of grain, from the environment.
Silos within your organization or department occur for similar reasons – and while they may seem to separate people, they are actually just relationships established by people who share specific common traits or interests.
It is the rapport and similarities they share that create the bonds between those silos you may have identified. This can manifest itself according to departmental divisions in a large business, or can just as easily be observed in smaller organizations or teams.
Silos and cliques are formed when a few within the group feel either unheard, uninformed or unconnected to the others around them.
So how do you “fix” the problem of silos and cliques?
Well, I think instead of trying to break down existing relationships, it is the role of managers or administrators to build more connections and create a network of relational strength.
People will always gravitate toward others with similar backgrounds, needs, values or problems. To remedy the issues that a “siloing” of people or departments with existing rapport can create, it is important to build more and stronger connections across departmental and personal lines. And you can provide opportunities for your team development and create more rapport and stronger relationships through shared experiences and laughter.
Yes, sometimes silos and cliques can seem divisive in your organization – but if you understand why they were created in the first place, you can use that knowledge to help grow more productive and positive relationships between all stakeholders on your team.
To build a better workplace, you don’t need to tear down the silos and cliques that exist … the solution is to CREATE MORE!
- They need more big picture reminders from management to paint pictures of current status and results desired. (These reminders also serve as reassurances, and help your team of people or departments to feel more informed and safe.)
- They need more collaboration about how people and resources (the puzzle pieces) can be utilized. (These opportunities offer your people a chance to be heard and feel more a part of decisions and of the overall efficiency – and ultimate success – of your organization.)
- They need more opportunities to bond and build relationships with other people and other divisions. (These opportunities provide powerful rapport-building experiences, and the laughter and challenges they share will create better communication and help them feel connected.)
By giving them more information, more input, and more friends, you will help your people to feel more connected to each other and to the big picture of what the entire organization is attempting to accomplish.
As a leader, your job is to emphasize their job is not just to do their job. Their job is to communicate and build rapport across departmental lines to help the team accomplish the big picture goals that are most important. In Ecclesiastes 4:12, it says that “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Instead of allowing your people to be easily overpowered as a disconnected collection of silos – help create a stronger cord of connections and create a network of rapport and communication with a team-building speaker or business team building event.
Measuring metrics and reporting activity and numbers is a necessary part of management – but the most important role of management is to create connections!
Your organization will live or die depending upon how you and your people nurture their relationships. By helping your people and departments build more silos and cliques, you will create a strong network of positive relationships among your team.