Poor leadership communication
Communication is critical to organizational leaders, and there is a high demand for effective communication; however, communication silos still appear to be a barrier and concern. Where an organization is deficient in effectively disseminating information across its units, it can suffer from communication silos, which is one of the primary sources of communication barriers. Overhauling a communication breakdown can be daunting; however, by engaging some of the recommendations in the article, an organization can bust through those silos and let the innovative ideas and communication flow freely.
Communication barriers are a significant concern for many organizations, and research has indicated that communication silos are one of the major deterrents to the progress of an organization. It creates communication barriers, both horizontally and vertically, and ultimately encourages bunker mentalities. Communication silos exist where individual units are unaware of the significant impact of their processes and business decisions on other departments in the organization.
Communication does not occur in a vacuum; it is part of the culture of an organization. As such, communications absorb the character of the organization’s culture. It is essential that those who actively create leadership messages be cognizant of those who passively receive those messages.
Necessarily the leadership of an organization must find ways to encourage open communication across the various units and inspire cooperation. Propagating this may be tricky depending on how long such turf battles have been going on and how entrenched employees are in this behaviour.
What is the problem with communication, and how do you identify the problem?
Often, there are tell-tale signs that an organization has a communication breakdown leading to a great deal of dissatisfaction and ineffectiveness. In a scenario involving a management review exercise, the leadership of an organization discovered that the amount of communication between the managerial cadres is seriously dwindling, leading to gross inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the system. It also realized that the inability to disseminate relevant information through proper channels to relevant stakeholders and lack of knowledge of processes and procedure of the different business units accounts for the communication problems within the organization. It was even more shocking to find out that projects are going on in other parts of the organization that other units were ‘out of the loop.’ It is at such a point that it realized communication silos have already become an issue.
At some point, employees will require the input and support from other units within the organization, or the other units will approach a unit requesting information or resources at different times. However, collaborating with other business units is not always easy as they may encounter conflicting processes and priorities. Such reluctance to collaborate indicates poor communication and a lack of awareness of its importance to the organization’s overall objective, resulting in a frustrating experience between business units. Similarly, a desire to exert control over one’s area or an unwillingness to put in the effort to communicate with other groups is the root cause of these silo issues.
Ironically, communication silos are the bane of most companies, primarily as most organizations operate in a matrixed environment, particularly the more prominent companies. It was discovered that while communication increases in its frequency in matrix forms of organizations, the quality of communications decreases. In the same vein, cooperation between employees was also found to decrease in the matrix. In such organizations, employees behave in a manner that benefits their sub-unit, but such an attitude is detrimental to the organization. Leaders who operate with “command-and-control” skills which they imbibed in traditional hierarchical organizations, have a complicated time building networks for cooperation in the matrix structure. The side effect of which results in unhealthy competition, office politics, or an overall lack of transparency and communication across the company.
How do you defeat the silo mindset in your organization?
The corporate world today requires teams to collaborate and innovate. Consequently, an organization’s culture must overcome silos and create compelling, cross-functional relations between business units. In defeating the silo mindset, an organization has a better chance to make significant progress.
The key to defeating mental silos between employees in an organization is challenging employees to recognize the bigger picture of the organization’s goals and take a broader view of their work as it relates to other units in the business. To buttress this position, Ian Cornett (2018) submitted that a unified vision broadly communicated among employees helps individuals understand that individual and team goals are secondary to organizational vision. For organizations that have grown accustomed to operating in silos, the vision will need to be communicated often and across different mediums so that it remains top of mind. When people see the bigger picture, they can begin to understand their unique place in the organization and that of others.
Do look out for part two of this article.