Posts Tagged ‘Employment’

The Silo Effect – Communications (Part 1)


Because of my background and experience, I am often tasked to analyze communications for silos and then propose and implement solutions to address the issues. Let’s start with some definitions and related material:

“An information silo is a management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related management systems. … The expression is typically applied to management systems where the focus is inward and information communication is vertical. Critics of silos contend that managers serve as information gatekeepers, making timely coordination and communication among departments difficult to achieve, and seamless interoperability with external parties impractical.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_silo

“As of 2010 the phrase “silo effect”, popular in the business and organizational communities, refers to a lack of communication and common goals between departments in an organization. It is the opposite of systems thinking in an organization. The silo effect gets its name from the farm storage silo; each silo is designated for one specific grain….. A lack of communication causes departmental thinking to lack ideas from other departments.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silo_effect

As stated in an online article titled, A Matter of Trust and Respect:  “As organizations grow and reach a certain size, they frequently share a common characteristic. It is the affliction of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. How often have I heard a senior manager say to a colleague, “If you had just asked, we would have been happy to help.” It’s a case of every employee for himself, and no one rowing together for the common goals of the company…

The symptoms of the silo effect are easy to recognize: lack of cooperation, internal competition and breakdown in communication. The result is that one division gets pitted against another…

Generally, silos are an offshoot of decentralized management…..Once one sector starts to see its own goals as more important than those of the organization as a whole, and when individualism predominates over team spirit, silos emerge.” http://www.camagazine.com/archives/print-edition/2002/march/columns/camagazine23400.aspx

Have I sparked your interest yet? More than likely, you have been involved in organizations at one time or another where silos have been prevalent within the management systems. Some organizations have silos- from top down, while others have silos between and within departments and business units. Many organizations are in denial of having silos. Many claim that communications is top priority within their organizations. Really? How can silos affect an organization? Simply stated: effectiveness, growth, quality, culture, production, performance, process, innovation, team cohesiveness, stress level, retention…shall I go on?

While the main objective for this blog entry is to bring awareness to silos, I will address root cause and how to solve the problems of silos in another entry. This posting is just something to chew on for awhile and reflect possible silos in your organization. Do I have your attention yet? Is this something you will only think about on a rainy day?  Just remember that silos affect maximum organizational effectiveness. How long can you afford to wait to address the issues?

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD ~ Organizational Development Professional

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Talent Management-Retention


My recent post on a Talent Management discussion board addressed the following:

How to retain your key people, without increasing the monetary rewards?  

My answer –

The current economic situation brings about an interesting dilemma for companies focusing on retention. The following paragraph is from an online article addressing retention and flexibility. I chose the source not only because of the discussion about flexibility, but because of the first 2 ½ sentences. Our mindset we developed over the last two years needs to change to deal with the improving job market or we will have a difficult time retaining key people.

“From what I’m seeing, we’ve turned a corner in the job market. Firms are publicly stating their intention to hire. And, the “Look, people are just lucky to have jobs,” mantra of the last two years has given way quickly to …..We need to offer workplace flexibility so we can attract and retain our people.” This is great news for me, but it’s dangerous for employers.”  http://tinyurl.com/4g4pg6p

Although monetary awards are important, they are not the end-all.  To retain employees, find out what their motivating factors are. For some great examples, read 10 Things Employees Want Most: http://tinyurl.com/2dqg8ne

Some companies have hired employees the last two years who previously had more challenging roles with more responsibilities than those of the new positions. The past roles may have been eliminated due to economics. These folks may have taken a reduction in salary, as well. How do we retain employees without increasing monetary rewards? That depends on the direction of the current job market, the internal motivational factors of these employees, and the financial health and potential growth of our own companies. Can we afford not to take a look at our current salary structure to make sure we are aligned with the improving job market? Can we afford to lose our talented workforce to opportunities which might exceed our current salary plan? Can we offer non-monetary rewards to retain these employees or is that not enough? Many folks took on positions solely for the paycheck, due to lack of available jobs. Many are now leaving for opportunities which offer the higher salary and/or challenges once offered by past employment.

What strategies can we use to address retention? Relationship building, performance feedback, engagement, empowerment, challenging work opportunities, and a career direction plan offer results – just to name a few.  The culture of a company needs to support the efforts, as well. Building relationships should be a given for every company. If your leadership teams are not building relationships with the rest of your employees, it is time to have a talk with them. Same goes for the CEO/President-get to know your employees! Create collaborative environments for all levels of employees to interact with one another and with leadership. Create efficient performance feedback processes which accurately measure performance and gives opportunities for improvement. Utilize social media and other tools. Relationship building and performance feedback are extremely important for retention!

I believe every employee wants to add value. Matching the skill sets and aspirations with current work opportunities would be an answer for retention. For example, leadership skills of employees can be polished, regardless of current role, if managers were coached to find creative ways for employees to lead initiatives. Another example-instead of a manager always creating the informational PowerPoint and presenting the monthly report to c-level leadership, rotate the responsibility to those employees who want to get involved, regardless of their current role. I worked for a company where a Sr. Manager did this for her group. I coached some of her employees in presentation skills to prepare them. These employees were motivated to utilize/polish their skills. They were engaged and empowered.

Engaging people to help identify gaps in their skill set to create a career path can help retention. I implemented a global-wide Talent Management and Succession Plan to address core competencies of key people for business continuity. This created an opportunity to address retention of employees, as well. The skill set gaps were identified and addressed. Employee aspirations were also identified. Job descriptions/role profiles were reviewed for accuracy. In order to address retention, it is our responsibility to develop a plan which addresses career development.

In summary, there are many ways we can retain employees.  I included just a few suggestions in this posting. There are several non-monetary ways to address retention. It is our responsibility to make sure our culture is aligned to support these efforts. Companies are also facing retention challenges due to the current economic recovery. We must be open to explore our options. Can we afford small monetary rewards or offer higher salary? These are dilemmas facing some companies today. Many more companies will be facing these dilemmas tomorrow. Is your company ready?

March 2, 2011 update: A great article which aligns with my Talent Management post,  Are You Ready For War for Talent 2.0?  http://tinyurl.com/4u627ap

March 8, 2012 update: Another great article,  Low-Cost Ways To Show Employees They’re Highly Valued. http://tinyurl.com/6rdfonm

Tammi Peters, M.S. HRD ~ Organizational Development Professional