What To Do When Teams Are Working In Silos

At some level every leader and manager understands that to deliver great performance they have to unlock the potential in teams.

In many large organisations the real challenge for leaders and managers is to get people to stop working in silos and start thinking in terms of the organisation as a whole. So if you are leading or managing teams that are working in silos, what should you do?

Acknowledge That People Attach To Smaller Groups

Whether it is right or wrong, people tend to become attached to their own little part of the organisation. Maybe it is because it’s what they are familiar or comfortable with. The temptation might be to try and break the strength of the group. In reality you will achieve more if you acknowledge that you understand why people will be more attached to what they know.

Educate People On The Wider Organisation

When I worked in the National Health Service (NHS) there were plenty of people who understood healthcare. On the other hand there were much fewer who really understood the wider organisation and how they fit in. Giving people the opportunity to understand the wider organisation through secondments, shadowing or even job swaps can make a big difference.

Share Successes Achieved Through Team Working

Talk is cheap but evidence is convincing. If you start to talk openly about what has been achieved through teams of people working together, then people are more likely to want to be part of a similar success story.

Listen and Understand Concerns

People might be working in silos because they have genuine concerns. A good leader or manager will listen to those concerns and seek to provide re-assurance whenever they can.

Start Small and Build

While we might like the idea of people going from silo thinking to embracing whole organisation working in one step, in reality a small start and slow build strategy is more likely to achieve better long term results.

The Bottom Line: Teams working in silos is more common than many leaders and managers would like to admit. Sometimes it is just small steps or changes that yield the biggest benefits.

Duncan Brodie helps accountants and other professionals to become highly effective team leaders. You can sign up for his free audio e-course here

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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