At some level, every manager understands that to deliver great performance they have to unlock the potential in teams. And to do this, they need to turn a collection of individuals into a high-performing group, the members of which support one another.
In other words, managers must be team builders nurturing teams where members share resources, ideas and common goals and also develop a shared identity, often built on a combination of their skill sets and their perceived status in the organization.
Aided by their managers, they can identify a common enemy, usually an external competitor. The team unites to defeat the ‘enemy’.
But in many organizations, this is not so. Teams have a potential down side that we need to examine. It’s termed Silo – an insular group that may do fine work, but doesn’t play well with others. A silo only takes care of its own. Silos can hold back change, impede innovation and cause unnecessary expense.
Below is a quick look at their characteristics:
Team: Shares information
Silo: Guards information
Team: Networks across groups
Silo: Avoids outreach
Team: Common identity
Silo: Common identity
Team: Us and Them
Silo: Us versus Them
Team: Manager’s style is collaborative
Silo: Manager’s style is controlling
It takes just a few wrong turns for a team to become a silo. However, the real challenge here is leadership. A leader expands a group’s horizons and connects the members – the team – to a bigger vision, irrespective of team members’ levels and roles.
The following are some of the ways they can do that:
- Defining clear roles and goals for team members
- Acknowledging that people attach to smaller group
- Encouraging employees to have a problem-solving mindset for all colleagues, not just those on their team
- Sharing information about the organization’s major strategies and initiatives
- Sharing successes achieved through team working
- Giving team members clear direction about priorities
- Pushing significant decision-making power to team members on the front lines
- Communicating in all directions — up, down and sideways — in the organization to make certain the team’s collaborative approach is recognized and rewarded
As a manager, for your efforts to be effective, it’s crucial for your team to have a good understanding of the concepts of team bonding and team efficiency. It’s more productive and fulfilling to lead a collaborative team than to manage silos.