Top-Shelf Tip No. 27:

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."

Henry Ford

Five Ways To Disrupt Work Silos

I recently went from a small and nimble 80-person organization to a 78,000-employee company. In large companies, there are bound to be silos. For example, I've discovered business units that don't work with other business units, duplication of solutions and services—and because of the sheer size-lack of awareness of cross-business opportunities.

Internal silos are created in several ways, according to Tanveer Naseer, an award-winning and internationally-acclaimed leadership writer and keynote speaker. He says that sometimes they are created out of fear of failure or exposure for making a mistake. Sometimes, silos are a result of maintaining control and familiarity.

Naseer recommends five key steps to leaders who want to tear down the silos in their organizations, and we're sharing these steps in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Encourage mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn and improve. Create an environment where employees are not blamed for failure. The most effective way is to treat failure as an opportunity to peel back the layers and understand why things went wrong in the first place, and what your team can do to ensure it doesn't happen again. Instead of focusing on who made the mistake, assess the level of damage, what can be done in the short term to address the problem and what long-term measures they can implement to prevent this from happening in the future.

2. Communicate a common purpose across divisions. Each department within an organization has a different set of objectives. What's key to collectiveness, is communication and adoption of a high-level purpose across the organization. As Naseer explains, an R&D team might value improvements or innovations to their product/service line to maintain their position as a leader in their industry. The marketing team, on the other hand, would be more interested in product improvements to increase their brand's exposure and positioning, and generate new conversations in market.

3. Redirect the team's competitive spirit toward external targets. Having a healthy competitive spirit in your team can be very beneficial for helping to build and maintain a sense of momentum. Where problems arise, though, is when that sense of competition is directed at beating other teams in your organization. Leaders need to help teams understand of how efforts by different teams serve to help the organization succeed at remaining competitive in their industry. A sense of connection across teams can help shift the focus to external market competition.

4. Encourage greater flexibility within and between your teams. Different teams operate in different ways. To break down silos, it's important for teams to accept different approaches rather than judge them. With this understanding, it becomes easier for different teams to collaborate as their combined focus will be on attaining their shared goal and not just on the means of how they will go about achieving it.

5. Build trust across your teams/departments. A by-product of silos is the lack of trust and sense of competitiveness between teams for recognition, resources and perceived value. Building trust within your organization is not a short-term process and it requires commitment by leaders to overcome this attitude. Leaders can facilitate greater transparency and openness about the goals and motivations that drive the efforts being made by the various teams. This, in turn, will create an environment where employees can trust both those in leadership and those they collaborate with to focus their collective energies toward a common objective and desire to succeed.

Source: Tanveer Naseer is an award-winning and internationally-acclaimed leadership writer and keynote speaker. He is also the principal and founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, a leadership coaching firm that works with executives and managers to help them develop practical leadership and team-building competencies to guide organizational growth and development. His work and writings have been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Economist Executive Education Navigator, CBC Radio Daybreak, Global News and the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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