Silos are getting stronger

The pandemic was great at the beginning to teach us to ‘pivot’ business operations that minimised health risks and re-prioritised how we serve our markets and customers. We were listening to each other’s ideas. We knew we hadn’t done this before, and we needed to band together.

We did an amazing job of the initial planning with regions, teams and stakeholder groups. We felt stronger, together. Yet now, workplaces are juggling more than ever before. Deloittes tells us that 77% of the workforce are in overwhelm. People are also not speaking up about the volume of work they are failing to manage well. Leaders have gone back to their silos and rather than help solve the overload problem, they are creating new initiatives.

There has been a significant shift in how and who we communicate with since the pandemic. According to Harvard Business School Professor Tiona Zuzul (who has conducted significant research post pandemic), there was a global spike in communication since Feb 2020. Then communication shifted significantly to internal groups (within teams, squads or business units) thereafter. These internally focused comms have not shifted since the ‘work-from-home’ orders were lifted. We’ve stayed insular. I look after my patch and you do yours.

When we fall back to not accessing the brains trust of our colleagues and customers then we limit our ability to solve outside what we know. We also miss out on an opportunity to build trust through problem solving, and growing empathy by sitting in each other’s shoes.

This exacerbates poor decision making. And what suffers? Managing priorities and resource management because the left hand is not talking to the right.

When we have silos we also avoid conflict or love it a bit too much. The number one reason for us not talking to each other about the things that matter, aside from being worried about damaging the relationship, is our fear of conflict. And we are not yet wired to manage our emotional reactions, let alone others.

We don’t realise that conflict is not a dirty word because we just haven’t learnt how to do it well. We haven’t learned that healthy conflict reduces the silos and dials down the problems.

If you lead teams, or businesses, and want to know what it looks like to create sustainable healthy conflict, then come to my free online event October 17th. Register here