Break Down Silos: Advice for Leaders from Their Teams
One of the most common challenges leaders cite is that their teams are stuck in silos, and they want them to collaborate to be more competitive.
But if those leaders really want teams to collaborate, they may be focusing on the wrong things. Spoiler alert: mandating stand–up meetings isn’t going to change how people work together.
XPLANE just led a series of Silo-Smashing workshops with more than 100 people from dozens of organizations, and what we heard from them is that silos don’t just fester and grow from the bottom up, they are usually built and sustained from the top down.
Here’s what we heard in those sessions: Leaders talk about collaboration, but leadership teams often remain competitive or even combative. Functional leaders focus on different, and sometimes conflicting, priorities. Their KPIs are tied to metrics that often undermine collaboration. Few leaders can articulate or model what collaboration should look like.
Our sessions at Enterprise UX 2016 conference and XPLANE’s Visual Thinking School were populated with experienced professionals, most leading teams or projects in organizations of all sizes. And, while these sessions would have been different if we were working within a single organization, the collective advice from these sessions was remarkably consistent.
Most importantly, the groups believe that collaborative work is the only way to be agile, innovative, and fast in a world that is increasingly fast-paced and competitive.
Here are the six most important things that leaders could do to break down silos:
1. Set collaborative goals
2. Set clear expectations
3. Live it
4. Tie metrics to collective goals and teamwork
5. Make structures and processes support teams
6. Stick with it
Cynthia Owens is a Senior Consultant at XPLANE.