Member Kirsten Bay Speaks: Reinforce Core Values & Objectives to Breakdown Silos

The Challenge:

The situation at hand was brought by an executive who was experiencing a challenge with his teams working in insulated silos, causing misalignment with his company’s end goals. He was seeking insight into how to course correct and change the culture of the company from experiments in the lab to precision in execution.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

Most CEOs at some time, particularly during periods of rapid growth, will recognize organizational elements that are starting to impede that momentum. This can present itself in the form of well-intended employees who have been in their roles for a considerable amount of time doing their jobs routinely, or when individual contributors move the needle in a direction they feel will benefit the organization. The result can steer the company ship in circles going nowhere.

If I were in this situation, I would reinforce the company’s commitment to its core values and clearly define the changes that will be made to breakthrough and bring the team back together.

It will be important to help employees understand that to effectively move the company forward in a new, improved and realigned way – something everyone actually wants in the long run – they all need to focus on the core values of the organization in everything they do. Establishing this vision from the top down can help realign. I find that using metaphors can be very powerful to connect employees back to those values.

For example: Don’t be a rhino! These animals can wipe out an entire village by running so fast, destroying everything in their path because they can only see 3-5 feet in front of them. In a business sense, a company can get wiped out when employees are moving so differently and quickly. I would reinforce the need to slow down in order to speed up so that the organization can become unified once again. Asking questions will help to clarify: What do we need to accomplish? How do we develop that together? What is our objective as a company? How do we establish roles and responsibilities that fundamentally will help to arrive where we need to go? 

To establish trust and open communication, it’s important to meet employees where they are, listen and understand why they may feel disconnected, and help them to make transitions. As the CEO, I would recognize that the more I’m connected with my team, the better this transitional phase will go. Conducting individual and group meetings to open the lines of communication, establishing roles and responsibilities, understanding pain points and gaining a unified agreement of the problems that can be solved, are keys to landing on the other side where growth and effective collaboration can flourish. Take one step at a time.

While many things may be working well within a company, there may be a temptation to keep throwing new ideas against the wall because progress isn’t coming fast enough. Additionally, CEOs tend to naturally possess an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to try new things. But they should never do so at the risk of jeopardizing the company’s mission. “What excites me is that our base vision hasn’t changed. We set ourselves up on the horizon, we must tack to it, and the vision comes with a lot of experiments and course corrections. But we do it as a team.”

In my experience, I’ve found that employees must be willing to engage and be part of the solution. And open communication must become a habit. CEOs need to continually bring everyone back to the conversation with a constant, clear and disciplined reminder to stay on track toward the end goal. Best of luck!

Kirsten Bay is the Co-Founder & CEO of Cysurance, a next-generation risk mitigation company that insures, warranties and certifies security solutions.