The image reads: “Nope, free range won’t work. They’re happier in separate pens where they can blame each other when things go wrong.”
Do you ever feel like this?
My association recently launched an innovative, 18-month virtual education course for members interested in personal growth, interdisciplinary team development and organizational quality improvement. During our initial, face-to-face program we use this cartoon to introduce the topic of team development. Generally, this slide reminds participants why the silo method is not a valid leadership style.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s attended this training. As an education director for a small trade association, I can honestly say there are days when educating our members fails to be a team sport. Nevertheless, learning continues to be a core competency of our mission, a valuable member benefit and a primary revenue source.
Most meeting professionals would agree that two education staff cannot pull off an annual convention and expo for more than 800 professionals and more than 450 vendor representatives without help. Assistance is needed to register attendees, support speakers, test audio/visual equipment, monitor education sessions, direct banquet staff and countless other details.
The same can be said for other significant functions of an association, including government relations, communications and membership. When departments aren’t willing to collaborate and support one another, the silo effect causes a number of damaging outcomes:
- The association unintentionally competes with itself for member time, interest and resources.
- Staff efforts are duplicated (or, worse yet, are in conflict with one another), causing individual projects to become diluted and less financially sound.
- Staff members are neither efficient nor effective, and those who consistently perform despite the adverse work environment become overwhelmed, frustrated and burned out.
- The “blame game” further impacts morale; places a disproportionate emphasis on failed ideas; and ultimately discourages innovation.
- The association’s image and reputation are potentially harmed.
So, my question to you is this: Do you know an association that subscribes to the silo method? What’s the best way to expose this unhealthy and unproductive management style? What solutions do you offer for those who currently find themselves operating within this type of work environment?