Collaboration has improved in many organizations. Still, many companies struggle with silos. Most of us know or have experienced what it is like to work in a silo. Silos typically limit the flow of information, resources, knowledge, and rewards across team or functional boundaries. They also limit our access and understanding of other parts of the business other than our own. I see silos even in organizations that have lots of matrix structures. The thing I am most struck by about silos is how expensive and inefficient they are. Where you see siloes, you see lots of redundancies-both process and people.
Much of a silo mentality can be fixed by your recognition systems and how you incent your leaders. If leaders (and their teams) are rewarded for doing what is best for the enterprise, they are willing to sacrifice what might be best for their team (and bottom line) but sub-optimal for the organization. Changing your recognition systems, rewarding the leadership behaviors you want more of and truly having consequences for the ones that you want to diminish, is the quickest way to create a more collaborative organization.
In absence of that, or in addition, I recommend that clients build organizational leaders and model the behaviors they would like to see from their teams and others. You can do this in big and small ways. It won’t be easy because sometimes you will feel like you are holding up the sky. One organization leader (she is a natural) told me recently that she gets tired of everyone coming to her for development. “Why can’t they go to their direct manager?” When I asked her if she knew the leadership and coaching skill level of the manager in question, she told me, “I think you already know the answer to that.” Of course employees across the organization come to her. She is an excellent executive and coach: she’s smart, demonstrates care and has a strong reputation. Employees aren’t stupid – they always seek out the best, most skilled leaders in any organization.
So here are a few tips on becoming a more organization-focused leader:
No doubt some of you reading this are already organizational leaders. I find them to be rare. Leaders are so busy. So often this takes extra effort and time. The effort is worth it, especially if you want to lead a division or company some day. To lead larger divisions or whole organizations, you have to be able to see and understand beyond your own function and expertise. Organization leaders break down siloes, positively impact their businesses and build their own brand and reputation.
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.