How do leaders shift from silos to collaboration? What does that look like? What are the main levers? Why would you want to do this anyway?
I’m often asked to help teams shift from operating in their distinctive business groups to being a collaborative team.
Some of the underlying signals for silos are:
- Everyone takes their problems to the leader, and the leader becomes mired in the details
- Work doubles up as teams replicate services they can’t access within the wider group
- Boundaries between teams become inflexible
- People don’t ask for or offer help
- Priorities aren’t shared
- Managers work as their job descriptions, not as passionate people oriented leaders
- Managers at the leadership table talk as if their team/work is the most important thing
- Leaders are perceived as egocentric, and there is little “we, us, our” talk
There are a myriad of causes for silos.
The main one is lack of clear direction and expectations from leaders. Influencing factors are successive structural changes that were never implemented, leaders in long-term acting positions, no processes for individuals and teams entering and leaving groups, little direction in establishing group wide priorities, and out of date meeting agendas. The core of this is that people in the team don’t really know who they are working with so the connections between them are formed only on technical expertise.
Rarely do people know what is important to their colleagues, who inspires them, how they managed a difficult situation, and criteria relevant to the distinctive group.
I’ve experienced this before. There were no “natural” connections in a newly formed group I was working with. Other than having the same boss, people had distinctive differences, which they emphasized. Over-hearing a lunchtime conversation I decided to use the criteria of “risk” to explore and expand connections. We set up a continuum of loves risk and hates risk.
When people connect beyond their job description, five results become evident:
- Greater trust is generated.
- Leaders are more able to meet at the leadership table with their groups “behind” them, so their discussions benefit the whole group. They work “on” the business and then decide how they will implement that in their team.
- Priorities are shared.
- Leaders are more likely to share staff when others are under pressure as priorities are shared.
- Development conversations make sense as new opportunities are created within the group. These conversations result in greater engagement, motivation and vitality within teams and across the group.
How well is your leadership team collaborating? What might that look like for your team, and across your organization? What results might be possible if your team refocused and worked “on” the business?
© Diana Jones