Somebody sent me a picture with the painted line on the side of the road running around a downed tree. Although it is funny, it is also disturbing. I first laughed and then started to think about what created the thinking that goes along with “it’s not my job.” As I ruminated, it occurred to me that it comes directly from a silo mentality that is selfish and actually works against teamwork and excellence.
Silos, the thinking that my department or job must be successful regardless of how it affects others, is a damning thing in business that reaches its apex when employees begin to do only what is in their job description or what helps them or their department reach their exclusive goals. Silo-ing is really just an expression of selfishness, and this selfishness ultimately reaches customers with poor service and poor products.
The really funny thing is that managers are often where silos start. When management promotes competition where sticks and carrots are wielded for performance, they send a message that selfish performance is what is necessary.
A good example is sports teams that incent players to reach certain individual performance goals. We’ve all seen it when a basketball player begins to hog the ball and shoot whenever they get the chance because, if they make X number of points, they get a bonus. The problem with this is that it often works in opposition to the team winning consistently. The carrot may work for the individual but it is a stick to the team.
The best teams work together and share. If one department needs help and another can spare people, money or expertise, they share for the good of the whole. If one person needs help, others run to the rescue, for the good of the whole. The question for you to ask yourself is, “why are we here, for me, my department, or the success of the mission?” If the mission is the answer – and it always should be – then everything changes.
To really accomplish the mission, the culture needs to change. The culture needs to focus on how each team member can look after the one next to them and help them. This means managers helping employees and employees helping customers, and isn’t helping customers the business of business? Think about this, are you incenting individual performance or mission accomplishment? Are you sending a message of team unity or internal competition? What are you doing to move away from the “it’s not my job to move the tree” mentality?