The Next Level Problem of Great Teams
August 3, 2018
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Free Resources for Building Success
August 15, 2018

‘Spend time on the business not just in the business’

This is a well-known recommendation for entrepreneurs and CEOs. But what if you already have a great team? What if things are going well? Here’s what I know about great teams and the next level problem you need to look out for.

teams and silos

Great Teams. Next Level Problems.

As a facilitator, I regularly work in organisations full of teams with great people that are often lead by amazing, motivated leaders. So why do they need me? What is the problem?

The biggest problem we find in businesses and organisations with great teams is that they might be great in their division and achieving targets BUT…. they’re not sharing across the divisions. They are working in silos within a silo mentality culture.

‘Silo mentality’, as defined by the Business Dictionary, is a mindset present in some companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce the efficiency of the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.

Along with teams in the corporate world, What’s Your Edge? has worked with a number of schools with this common workplace culture challenge. There are many similarities between a big business and running a school. The sense of community, however, is by far one of the greatest strengths a typical primary or high school environment has over corporate organisations. They share similar values in wanting kids to get the most out of their education and everyone, from teachers to parents, the executive and office staff to the P&C, suppliers and even the community at large, want their school to be successful. However, despite these groups being on the same page in values and being their best for the children, they often work independently and in isolation. And it is this kind of environment that lends itself to the silo mentality.

From my perspective, as a facilitator who is frequently engaged to break down silos in organisations, silo culture usually starts in the Executive Team with every leader dedicated, driven and wanting the best for their division. The problem, however, is that sometimes this drive comes an internal focus rather than a collaborative one.

Silo cultures usually start in Executive TeamsThe fall out can vary from teams not learning about things outside of their business, reinventing the wheel unnecessarily then getting stressed from working long hours to get everything done to new people, and even long-standing staff, missing out on valuable mentoring opportunities, teams with no Team Intelligence™, and so on.

The Big Issue for Teams

The big issue in most of these teams is TRUST or a lack of it, even if it’s a smidgen. Here are two quick examples:

  1. People not sharing information because they are scared of how others will use it. This is a very common negative mindset.
  2. People aren’t getting along because they haven’t built character trust. Sure, we aren’t going to like everyone but if we don’t know them, we really won’t understand what drives them or what they value so how then can you build trust?  This is why you need to talk and share, share personal information that brings a level of vulnerability. Brene Brown writes a lot about this.

This recent article lists another 20 Red Flags to look out for.

My Tip for Breaking Down Silos?

My biggest tip is to get everyone together. Of course, this can and sometimes should be a facilitated session but really the very act of bringing people together is at the very key to your SuccessCulture and to build what we call Team Intelligence™.

Here’s some more on Team Intelligence™

And start with the Executive Team

I know bringing the Exec Team together will mean the emails will pile up but any more than that and you might need to look at the delegation model and what the empowerment is like with people in your leader’s teams.  If things implode when your leaders are away then this is often an indication that there is a leadership issue.

Yes, there is the cost of the venue and flights, dinners and accommodation too, but what is the real cost to the business if you don’t allow time for your team to be working on the business together?

What’s the Cost of Leadership Problems?

It’s the not catering bill. The true cost of a disconnected leadership team is:

  • Teams not communicating
  • Confused frontline staff
  • Stress leave or sick leave
  • Goals being met at the expense of others
  • Disharmony
  • Goals not being met due to lack of direction
  • No alignment with company values
  • People walking past unacceptable behaviours
  • A lack of responsibility and accountability – especially when it’s not ‘their’ job
  • Lack of trust
  • Not having constructive conversations
  • Lack of feedback
  • No learning or slow learning
  • Fixed mindsets versus growth mindsets

And how much does all that cost you? Not as much the 1 or 2 days to get your leadership team together that’s for sure!


Gabriella Horak WYE business cardBring your teams together and start with the Executive. Get them sharing about themselves, getting to know each other, what they value (what they spend time on most outside of work). Get them sharing, what they read, listen to, follow and then work on strategic initiatives that will drive the business forward.

Work on the business!  This isn’t about Operations. Here are some ideas for bringing your Executive Team together:

  1. Run an accelerated trust activity or two (not of the blindfolded falling backwards nature).  
  2. Get a litmus test of where you are all at and where you’d like to be.  
    The ‘Stop Start Continue’ model is excellent.  
  3. Pick a strategic business topic to discuss, then nut out a plan. Perhaps discuss some operational issues but this should not be why you get together.

I have had decades of experience working with teams on trust. If you want any of my activities, please contact me and I will gladly share them with you


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