How do I get people to move out of their silos?

by Sam on March 8, 2009

move out of your silo

Analysis: As top managers hold department managers and team leaders ever more accountable for their areas of responsibility, they report unintended consequences in the form of “suboptimization.” This is the state of affairs when division managers and team leaders strive to optimize the results of their own units without much concern for the negative outcomes that their actions may produce for other units. The end result is that while they indeed optimize outcomes–their own–they repeatedly trigger reduced outcomes for the total organization. This is what so-called silo behavior is all about.

Answer: Apply the solutions from this list that will work best for you.

1. Give your departments/teams a powerful common purpose (a desirable future, a fantastic dream, an inspiring vision, a glorious cause)–one that will unite them and demonstrate their common interests. A

2. Establish “teamwork” as a corporate core value as well as one of the key measures on your performance review document. Provide both positive and negative consequences for it–particularly the inter-team variety. A

3. Insist as much upon exceptional internal customer service as you insist upon external customer service. Preach it regularly and loudly.

4. Give your departments and teams the opportunity to evaluate the quality of service they provide to each other. Insist that the lowest rated teams provide a plan for how they’ll get better. A

5. Address and remedy any lack of cooperation or conflict among key department heads and team leaders. Relationships between leaders are key to the degree of collaboration between their direct reports. A

6. Rotate employees throughout your organization. The best servant to an outside team is someone who once worked in it. This same phenomenon explains why waitresses are good tippers.

7. Engage your team in a micro strategic planning exercise that gets them moving immediately in the same direction. A

8. See that your senior leadership team drafts a Team Charter that postulates the valid requirements they should have of each other. Ensure that it remains a living, breathing document. A


If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

~Mark 3:25


Contact Sam for a practical tool you can apply to each item tagged with an A.  Every one of these items will also appear eventually as the focus of a future Ask.

Action (yours)
Do you have an Ask for Sam about leadership, team building or communications? Email that question to him at He will respond to you either by email or telephone. Please include your telephone number with your Ask.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>