Your Boss Tells You to Silo Yourself – Should You Take His Advice?

Silo ThinkingPicture This…

You’re disturbed about a colleague’s business practice that affects both the customer and the internal team. You decide the consequences could be serious, and it justifies a discussion with your manager. The discussion doesn’t go the way you envision. Your manager suggests you silo yourself and stay focused on your business objectives.

You walk away from your conversation with mixed feelings.

Your leader is recommending you ignore your colleague’s behavior. You are surprised however three things are clearer now:

  1. You understand why some things don’t seem to register on your manger’s radar.
  2. You’re disappointed in the quality of his advice, you expected better from him.
  3. You need to determine whether or not to take his advice.

The term silo has been around in business for a long time. It is a metaphor for an individual or business unit that lacks the motivation or desire to work with or communicate with others. Sometimes it is because management doesn’t believe there is enough benefit to sharing information.

Individual silo mentality is a coping mechanism. Silo thinking enables a person to see and hear selectively. This could be to limit negative input or defend a positive outlook.

What can go wrong with this?

Silo behavior is self-absorbed behavior. The individual is protecting themselves, and their selectivity can cause them to:

  • Be unaware how their behavior affects others.
  • Be dismissive when others express concerns, brushing them off as irrelevant.
  • Miss out on communication cues and nuances when conversing with others.
  • See themselves as disciplined rather than closed.

 Why should you care?

Sometimes management doesn’t believe it necessary to share information. It would be wise to determine if this is true or false in your situation. Look at it from multiple perspectives:

  • the customer’s
  • the internal team’s
  • the business strategy

How does this affect the company’s reputation?  How will being a part of this company culture affect your reputation eventually?  This data will help inform your next steps.

So what should you do?

Once you have determined why you should care from a business perspective, you can examine what’s most disturbing about this for you personally?  Perhaps it’s because you have a different approach.

At mid management level, you may not have the power and authority to change things. Consider the following: If your manager…

  • is the owner of the company; is his suggestion convenient in this instance or part of his modus operandi?
  • is old school, perhaps he has not bought into the new business norms?
  • leads a business unit that is doing well, he may not feel the need to upset the status quo.

Do you take your manager’s advice or not?

You’re not always going to agree with your manager. We know that actions speak louder than words. There are times you’ll see your leader in action and learn what not to do. An essential self-management skill is to learn how to sort between the big stuff and little stuff, and to discern what’s personal and what’s positional.

Only you can decide whether to take your manager’s advice. While this reflection may not reveal the perfect answer, it will help you gain greater clarity, reduce the mixed feelings and help you identify next steps appropriate for you and your role.

How do you handle situations where you and your manager disagree?

How do you sort through what’s personal and what’s positional? 

Photo:  Deposit Photos

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