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Working in a Silo

I love farm land and silos, my grandparents had a farm in Wisconsin and I would spend hours looking at the silos, they were impressive. Silos will always hold a special place in my heart, but they are not impressive in the working world… quite the opposite.

As an individual who loves my quiet and alone time, because it allows me to think and be extremely productive, I also recognize that this style of working can cause me a great deal of pain. Allow me to elaborate. If I work in my bubble and do not seek input from others or bring them into my plans or initiatives, I run the risk of alienating my co-workers, creating duplication of work and unintentionally eroding the culture that I expend a great deal of time and energy on growing - a culture of team and collaboration.

It can be easy to get off track when we work in this way. Working in teams and having collaborative conversations allows team members to question, “Does that initiative really align with our strategic plan?” or “I see where you are going with that and it sounds like a great idea, but what value does that provide to our customer?”

Let’s face it not many of us like other’s playing in our designated “sand box”. The question I would pose to you is, “Why not?” Aren’t we better as a group? Remember the old saying more heads are better than one? Someone once told me that a little friction can be a good thing, push and pull can make us better, if it is done respectfully.

If you are a person who enjoys working in a silo, I encourage you to step out of your comfort-zone and make an effort to work in a team. Start by bringing others into your initiatives, get feedback, ask others what they think or if they have any suggestions. This can be uncomfortable at first and if you’re not open to the suggestions it may cause friction. However, if you are open and can see the value in this you will soon discover that most people are coming from a place of positive intent and want the same things you do: to rock the socks off of these new initiatives.

If you are a manager and you realize that your team is working in this fashion, I would suggest starting with a fun, small team project. Get your team used to feedback from others, have some lively, respectful conversations. Then do an after action and have everyone share something they learned, enjoyed, and did not enjoy. This will give everyone a good base and hopefully a good experience and you can build on this.

Breaking these silos down has many benefits: It makes us better communicators; builds trust and camaraderie; and generates new and exciting ideas.

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