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Organizational Growth: Silos Do Not Work

By Michael Parsley, SVP of Distribution/Transportation/National Tailoring Service, Tailored Brands

Michael Parsley, SVP of Distribution/Transportation/National Tailoring Service, Tailored Brands

The world today requires all organizations to grow and change at a pace faster than ever before and technology advancements are playing a big role in facilitating that change. What I would like to share with you today is how to help employees in your organization adapt to and even embrace the constant change that has become today’s norm.

"Organizations must focus on communication to ensure that the disruption within their groups results in positive growth"

Continuous change within the organization can cause stress and concern within groups. Employees become nervous as they worry about what job they will assume as the change occurs or sometimes if they will even have a position. These worries can result in decreased communication between individuals and within business units, which impedes the desired effect on growth.

When a company is undergoing change, which is all of the time now by the way, they need to address these concerns up front. Employees need to be given all of the information possible so they understand the direction the company is headed. This allows the employee to focus on the change and not worry about what is going to happen to them or their position. When employees are involved and understand the company’s goals they can maintain focus on their jobs and help drive the desired change. Sometimes companies feel that keeping information confined is the correct thing to do and this is absolutely not correct. With the exception of confidential information that impacts stock prices for public companies, any other information will only benefit the company and the employee. Sharing this information will accelerate growth as the employees feel empowered, involved and a part of the company. When employees are isolated and do not have two-way communication they will shut down to some extent without even being aware of this change within themselves.

Silos exist in many companies as each group focuses on their own objectives in their daily jobs. In most cases, this occurs without intent and most employees do not even realize they are operating in a silo. When you add the concept of constant change into a company the result can be severe gaps in communication between the groups only increase. As these gaps grow with increased change, the information that is received by each group can easily be outdated by the time it is received. This causes confusion within and between the groups and can have devastating impacts. Groups will begin pointing fingers at each other regarding who provided incorrect or out-of-date data. The desired change and speed of change will be significantly impacted as this occurs.

Think about yourself and remember a time when you did not have the correct information on a task. It can be something as simple as picking your child up from school. For example, let’s say that you had to change your schedule one day to pick your child up from school as you were told that your child got out of school on early dismissal at 2 pm. You rearrange your schedule and get to the school at 2 pm but your child is nowhere to be found. You call their cell phone and no answer. As time passes, you start getting nervous as you have a meeting that has already been moved once due to this scenario, so you go and look for your child. As you come to the baseball field, your child is practicing as normal. You go up to your child and say, “Hey what is going on, I thought you had early dismissal today?” Your child states, “Yes, I did but I had still had practice at the regular time.”“Well why did you tell your mom that you needed picked up early?” Your child states, “I did not tell her that, I just told her I had early dismissal.” Just at that point you realize that there has been a communication failure and it has caused a lot of disruption not only to you but to other people as well.

Now think about the above example applied to your organization. The disruption that was created by a “simple” change in routine or schedule occurred with only three people involved. What happens when the number of people goes from 3 to 20 to 200 to 10,000? The disruption and confusion that occurs is compounded exponentially. Think about how this occurs today in your organization and in your group. I am confident you can come up with examples. Now, start applying constant change and you can see how the confusion and disruption in your organization is magnified even more.

Change is and will continue to occur at a rate more rapid that previously achieved - it’s demanded to remain competitive. Organizations must focus on communication to ensure that the disruption within their groups results in positive growth. If communication, employee involvement and employee empowerment do not occur, this rate of change will have a negative impact on the organization and could result in the organization becoming extinct. Carefully review what is going on within your organization, determine where your gaps are with respect to change and close them before it is too late.

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