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Silo Sadness

Optimize Blog - July 17, 2015 - 0 comments

Believe it or not, the use of the word “team” is a huge turnoff for many workers. For too many employees, the phrase “I want you to be on my team” is just management-speak for “shut up and do it my way.”
The mere use of management-speak is so off-putting that many employees will distrust anything the managers say simply because they are using management-speak instead of natural language. This is exacerbated of course just after the manager has just read a book on the latest leadership silver bullet!
Teams aren’t the issue though. The real issue is the silo phenomenon. The existence of siloed groups creates a huge impediment to any group of people working together and having ‘one team’ aspirations. One definition of a siloed group is “a group of people pursuing the goals of the silo.” Each silo has its own agenda, which is never the agenda that the customer needs.
If we allow a company to become or remain “siloed,” we have empowered each group to pursue its personal agenda.
So how can we remove these silos? This is a tough as for a couple of reasons. Firstly, 1) most people think in terms of silos and can’t imagine life otherwise, and 2) people who are “empire-builders” want the company divided into silos so that they can build their little empires in their own spaces.
Abolish the silos, and bring each skill into a single group whose only focus is solving the customer’s problem.   We need to decentralize or “push down” the decision-making but this is an action that most organizational structures are incapable of achieving.  Asking people to work together when, over the long run, they have different agendas, is simply an exercise in futility.
If you find this odd, think about the military. When you have a squad of soldiers, you might have some infantry, a sniper, a medic, an engineer, and so on. Imagine if they belonged to different silos; all of the infantry guys in the company belong in one silo, all the snipers in another, all the medics in another, and so on. It would be chaos, and on a macro scale, you can see this happening when the Army, Navy, and Air Force compete for their own agendas (talk about the ultimate silos!).
But within the squad or platoon, there is a clear squad or platoon leader, his/her seconds-in-command, and everybody else. The only thing that matters is the mission, not finger-pointing between different groups of soldiers. The skills are brought together in a complimentary manner to ensure success.
We need to create an environment where people work together under a single, local, empowered leader. We need a common purpose that everyone is committed to. We need aligned goals and aligned KPI’s. We need information that is shared with the right people in a timely manner. We need to sacrifice our own agenda for the good of the team……..

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