Where is your chain broken? - [website] Email Print
Published: 6th of Feb 2017 by: Carolyn Kessler

I am saddened by the number of companies that attempt to function without there being any kind of cohesiveness between their departments.

Without question, they would be far more successful if everyone saw themselves and their departments as links in a circular chain – when one link is weak or opts out of the circle, the others are left hanging ineffectually in mid-air...

From an outsider’s perspective it quickly becomes clear whether an organisation is one in which departments/employees work as a team, and those where each department/employee is engaged in some highly destructive turf guarding behaviour.

Why do some workplaces function like a well-oiled machines whilst others are literally destroying themselves from the inside out?

This self-destructive behaviour is almost always modelled firstly by senior managers and then trickles down through the organogram until it has infected everyone working at the organisation.

It flourishes in a climate where fear is the overriding management style and looking over your shoulder becomes the norm. Whereever fear is present, even our best attempts at team building will be in vain, unless we identify exactly where this type of ‘non-leadership’ originates and acknowledge its presence.

Without identifying the purveyors of this culture, we won’t gain insight into why it came into being and therefore won’t be able to dismantle the walls which have sprung up, in order to rebuild our chain effectively.

Understanding that people are at their least effective when governed by fear is something with which our more autocratic managers may battle to come to grips. They may feel that ruling with an iron rod is the way to get the most out of their employees when in actual fact those employees are using up a disproportionate amount of brain/emotional headspace just to feel safe.

Only once they feel they have secured their ‘turf’ from threat are the staff members able to focus on the actual work itself. What a tremendous waste of talent and productivity.

When people sense a lack of resources they immediately hunker down and become inwardly focussed. This leads to the ‘silo effect’, where people keep their information to themselves or within their department and there is no co-operation. They withhold information in order to have some sort of leverage over their colleagues, a culture of secrecy and deceit becomes the norm, because no one feels sufficiently secure to share ideas and info in case they put a foot wrong and it gets bitten off.

So, how to undo the knots everyone is tied up in and move forward together to a place where people believe their worth to be recognised, and therefore feel secure enough to celebrate their colleagues’ worthiness. I have set out a few of the behaviours which need to be modified and stress that these have to take place in a structured, transparent and strategic manner:

• Ban the word ‘blame’ from your workplace

• Tackle the situation, not the person

• Become solutions-focussed

• Believe that everyone comes to work wanting to do their best and when that doesn’t happen look for ways to help them achieve this

• Encourage job shadowing so employees understand the crucial part each and everyone, from the MD to the Facilities Manager, plays within the company

• Develop a culture where the good times and the bad times are shared as one – when the sales rep lands a huge order, invite everyone to share in his or her sense of achievement. This will happen organically if everyone is cognisant that their input comprises a vital link in the chain of success

• Conversely, when someone bombs out – it’s in everyone’s interest to help them back up again

• Introduce a dose of good, old fashioned kindness – from the top down – respect begets respect

The courses we offer which speak directly to effecting this kind of change include our Developing your Management Potential series and 3-Day Leadership amongst others.

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