Is change breaking down your silos or creating more? Here’s what we know about change.
- Change creates feelings of uncertainty.
- When we are uncertain, we don’t believe we have the answers, so we look for them elsewhere.
- When looking elsewhere, we look to those sources and people we know and trust.
- At work, that includes peers and leaders.
- The peers and leaders we know best are those we work with most closely.
If this is the impact of uncertainty, what psychological incentive do you have to reach out of your comfort zone and breakdown the silos? How do you encourage collaboration?
- Create forums to meet people in the other silo(s). Earlier in my career, the bank I was working for acquired a competitor. We were going to combine teams, bringing together two silos. After the acquisition was finalized, we held a daylong meeting with the sole purpose of understanding what each member of the new team did and our approaches to our work. After the meeting, we each had a far better understanding of who each person was and how we each worked. There was less uncertainty.
- Find the common areas of uncertainty. Talk about the elephant in the room. The meeting I mentioned above reduced some areas of uncertainty and, honestly, created others. What are we all unsure or unclear about? During change we can feel that we want to be perceived as highly competent and in the know. Admitting we are uncertain about something requires vulnerability but it opens the door for real understanding. Knowing others are going through the same experiences of uncertainty, especially because it feels negative, can create a sense of camaraderie.
- Find or create the answers together. Change can feel like it is happening to us and we have little control. The reality is that we have significant control over how change is executed and how we interact with it. If you don’t know something important, determine how you will find out. Often, the way you’ll find or create the answers is by bringing others in, not shutting them out