Communication in the workplace: Are you fermenting your team’s business knowledge?
Written by Renée Safrata - firstname.lastname@example.org, September 23rd, 2010
Wikipedia states that Silos are used in agriculture to store grain or fermented feed known as silage.
Are you fermenting your team’s business knowledge in your own wee silo?
As my neighbour’s children run around their backyard chanting this favourite tune; “I am the King of the Castle, you’re the dirty rascal”, I am reminded of one leaders’ “aha” moment about “silos” in a recent leadership team meeting.
In business, silos can be created by an individual, a team or an operating division/department. Silos, within business, are characterized by holding on, controlling or turf protecting which become synonymous with power struggles, lack of cooperation and loss of productivity.
In this recent leadership team meeting, Rory* commented that he often had difficulties being productive because he judged his fellow leadership team-members as working in silos. He felt that each member focused on their own tactical projects, but didn’t take the time to support their fellow team members on common initiatives.
For the following monthly meeting with this leadership team, I introduced our ‘feedback matrix’ competency. The feedback matrix teaches members about and offers the opportunity to practice how to give one another corrective and directive feedback.
I asked each member of the team to make two statements to each of their co-workers. The statements were;
- “Working with you, one of the difficulties that I have is…”, and
- “Working with you, one of the appreciations I have is…”.
The greater the number of team members, the greater amount of feedback each person receives. It is very useful for each member to note any repetitive feedback they receive from their co-workers.
In his group of ten colleagues, Rory learned, from many, that his co-workers rarely knew what he was working on. They commented that their personal interpretation was that Rory was not sharing information about his project because he assumed they were too busy to hear from him. They stated that they often learned about a projects’ tasks far too late to offer Rory any support or resources.
With his jaw on the boardroom table, Rory realized the company did not have operating silo’s but rather that he had created his own silo.
Once Rory became aware of his own behaviours that lead to creating his own departmental silo, he was able to take the necessary steps to overcome those behaviours. He began by connecting with co-workers more often, sharing current tasks and reporting on project progress.
In leadership meetings, Rory started to experience many leadership team benefits; improved team relationships, higher productivity, better use of resources and personally feeling more effective and engaged.
The feedback matrix helped Rory increase his own awareness and responsibility of creating his own silo. He is no longer fermenting important team knowledge.
What silos are you stuck in?
*Name has been changed.