LSA Global Insights Newsletter: How to Break Down Silos & Resolve Cross-Unit Conflicts

October 27, 2018

How to Break Down Silos & Resolve Cross-Unit Conflicts

Like change and increased competition, we believe conflict is here to stay.

In a recent study, 85% of workers across all levels report experiencing some form of conflict that decreases their productivity.  29% reported experiencing unproductive conflict frequently. In the U.S. alone that equates to over $350 billion of worker time spent in unproductive conflict.

Why This Matters
Too many leaders, factions and functions are competing for influence and limited resources instead of working seamlessly together across geographies, silos, departments and conflicts to successfully execute their go-to-market strategy. 

The need for increased collaboration has been driven by strategies that require common goals and complex solutions that span disciplines - strategies that can present a single face to the customer, rapidly adapt products and services, and fight off intensified competition.

The Root Cause
We find that most companies mistakenly believe that cross-function conflict is caused by interpersonal challenges that erode trust. While it is true that trust is the bedrock of healthy conflict, our research and field experience has taught us that most conflict is due instead to misalignment and a lack of clarity around strategies, success metrics, roles, cultural expectations, information sharing, and cross-function processes.

In other words, team building events rarely serve the purpose of breaking down silos over the long term when organizational strategies, structures and systems are at odds. If you are experiencing a "bunker mentality" across your organization, don't resort to superficial solutions like communication styles or conflict training. 

Invest the time to understand what's happening and take the steps required to align your functions for mutual success.

The Most Common Causes of Conflict

1. Unclear Strategies 
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of profitable revenue growth, customer loyalty, and employee engagement. To set the stage for collaboration, your strategies must be understood by your key stakeholders, believed in by those who must execute them, and implementable in your unique industry and culture.  

If you want to increase collaboration and reduce cross-unit conflicts, invest the time to define why the company, function or team does what it does and how specific and integrated actions should lead to superior performance. 

2. Conflicted Leadership Teams 
More often than not, it all starts at the top. Even subtle differences or confusion between leaders have a tendency to create conflicting and misaligned priorities, roles, and reward systems. If your leadership team is not 100% aligned and committed to what matters most and who does what, your chances of creating a culture of collaboration will be limited. 

If you want to increase collaboration and reduce cross-unit conflicts, invest the time to align your leadership team to common priorities and inter-dependencies.  

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned