Digital transformation, globalization and VUCA challenge companies to change. Those who now think within silos – lose. Why is that? Without a strong culture of trust in the company, a number of problems arise:

  • Lack of cooperation between departments and teams
  • Higher sick leave and more absences
  • Secrecy and office grapevine
  • Cover-up of mistakes

If trust is lacking in the company, the deformities of communication grow: mistrust, suspicion, secrecy, remoteness, working to rule, withholding insights, lack of cooperation and opportunistic behavior. The technical term »interface« hides the fact that people have to relate to each for smooth cooperation.

Breaking open silos and overcoming borders

Silo mentality has been one of the biggest problems in many companies. However, digital transformation and agile transformation as well as all approaches towards more self-organization require an explicitly open communication.

If you want to work efficiently in agile and fast-moving times, you have to break open silos and overcome boundaries. This requires a conscious act of will – because under the stress of uncertain contexts the human mind tends exactly towards the opposite, towards isolation and secrecy (see article on »Neuroleadership«). However, exchange and transparency are the Alpha and Omega within a company – especially in times of increasing competitive pressure.

Silo mentality leads to misunderstandings and resentment through »hearsay«. A lack of exchange leads to untapped potential, to the »reinvention of the wheel« and not infrequently to envy about the successes of other departments, as associates do not feel like »one team« and do not participate in the successes of others.

This entails a number of further negative consequences: the company does not learn from mistakes, is less innovative, wastes resources on the necessary settlement of disputes, is less attractive as an employer, has employees who only »work to rule« and much more.

What can you do about it?

Silo mentality is counteracted by a strong culture of trust.

How can I boost trust in the company?

Leaders are the cornerstones of every change – and leadership will have an important role to play as a relationship manager in the future, as we described in detail in our series »Leadership of the Future«. In the coming blog article, we will explain how you as a manager can build trust by maintaining your relationship network.

Feedback promotes transparent exchange

Feedback is an aspect that managers can push forward in order to strengthen trust in the company. Feedback is part of a lively resonance culture in the company. Good feedback is always clear and appreciative.

As a leader, make contact and obtain feedback. This can be done through low-threshold »feedback flashes«, in which you as a manager regularly invite to open rounds in which employees can give feedback on any topic that concerns them. After some time, you will see how a more open discussion culture is developing.

Congruent action is the foundation for trust

Acting congruently – i.e. in a manner in which formulated intentions and executed actions are in harmony with each other – is one of the foundations for building trust in a person or in a company. Those who are perceived by others as congruent are classified as reliable and trustworthy.

As human beings, we strive to behave congruently and to appear congruent to the outside world. We want to remain true to ourselves as well as appear trustworthy to others. If people behave incongruently, we evaluate this as negative, we become skeptical and possibly even suspicious of this person.

Reliability, i.e. keeping promises, is another important building block besides congruent action. The Latin saying »pacta sunt servanda« reminds us that this should not only apply to formal contracts, but also to informal agreements. Congruent and reliable action strengthens the predictability of a person’s actions.

Common rituals strengthen connectedness in a company

As a manager, use the existing events to consider the social and emotional needs of your employees. Example: At the next conference, do not only discuss specialist topics, but also consciously give room to leadership and cooperation topics. Or use the summer event for purposeful social exchange – so that it is not just »nice«, but is understood as part of the corporate culture. You will find that informal events and common rituals make a relevant difference for cooperation. Because connection creates commitment.

Building bridges is essential

With leaders who strengthen relationships. With employees who openly exchange ideas and network. With people who work together for the »purpose« of the organization. Hiding behind fixed standpoints no longer qualifies. So get out of the silo – explore & transform!

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