Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast

Busting Organizational Silos at Work with Dr. Robyn Petree-Guzman and Keith Kmett

June 12, 2022 Russel Lolacher Episode 21
Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast
Busting Organizational Silos at Work with Dr. Robyn Petree-Guzman and Keith Kmett
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with customer experience and employee experience advisors Dr. Robyn Petree-Guzman and Keith Kmett on how organization silos can be formed and the best approaches and benefits of removing them.

Robyn and Keith share their experience with...

  • how organizational silos can be created
  • how vision and mission of a company relate to silos
  • the importance of communication
  • the benefits and considerations of removing silos
  • the role of executive and culture in addressing silos

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For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

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Russel Lolacher  
And on the show today, not one, but two, two guests on the podcast, we've got Keith Kmett. And we've got Dr. Robyn Petree-Guzman, and here is why they're awesome. First up, Keith is the principal CX advisor for Medallia where he works with clients employees to improve customer experience programs. His background is in user experience and so much Spanish in his background, so much Spanish and journalism. And we have Yes, and we have a seat, I guess would be the most appropriate response. And Dr... and Dr. Robin, who is the employee experience advisor for Medallia and a bit of a numbers nerd looking through all that research, all the research background for you. She is an IO psychology researcher, when I had to look up i o on Google, for sure I did scientist practitioners who have an expertise in the design execution and interpretation of research in psychology, and to apply their findings to help address human and organizational problems in the context of organized work. Damn, Robin, how did I do? Does that make sense? That's how right? That works. Yes, good job. Google wouldn't lie to me. So I just want to make absolutely sure we're going down the right path. Thank y ou so much for being on the podcast to both of you. 

Keith Kmett  
Thanks, Russel.

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
Thanks for having us.

Russel Lolacher  
First question I asked every single person and it can be good, it can be bad, I guess it really depends on how you want to start your day when you relive this memory, which is I'm gonna start with you, Robin, what's your best or worst employee experience?

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
I'll choose one of my best this happened back in 2014. I had moved to the Midwest with cold winters for a job. And after three cold winters, I decided I need to move back to Texas where I belong. So this was before most people got to work remotely and all that stuff. But I went and asked my boss, Hey, can I keep my job, but move back to Texas and work from home? And I had this whole speech plan to prove my point to him. But he immediately said yes. And that's Wait, you don't even want to hear my pitch. He's like, No, I you do a good job. And you know, if you belong there, I'm not gonna stay in the way of your happiness. So sure, let's do that. And that was a great experience for me, because, you know, it all worked out. I mean, if he had said no, and forced me to stay there, I probably would have left the company, you know, and looked for something else. But because he loved me stay. And I loved my job. I ended up working there for many, many more years, I worked longer remotely than I did ever in the office. So it worked out wonderfully

Russel Lolacher  
To be listened to and valued. It's it scares me that that's so novel, but I appreciate you sharing that.

Keith Kmett  
You know, I'll go with the worst. Just, yeah, just just break the ice here.

Russel Lolacher  
Balance Robyn out. Go ahead. 

Keith Kmett  
Yeah, well, we'll balance Robyn out here. So I was in a new corporate role, had been working there, for the first year, thought I was doing pretty well felt pretty exciting, was, you know, making a lot of good connections, doing a lot of great work. At this time, I was more focused on my UX role, in my experience, and with user experience, and that first year review, I had a new manager that just really felt threatened. By, by me, apparently, or, you know, not sure what what the what the deal was, but had a, what I felt was the worst review I've ever had. And but at the end of the review was told I was being promoted. So I was like, practically in tears over all the all the negative, but then given this promotion, and it was it was just one of those things where you kind of realized, oh, wow, you know, like, did I you know, you'd only been at the company a year, you're like, did I choose the wrong company? Or do they just get a bad manager? Those types of things. And so I think perseverance is something that that experience taught me. Because within, you know, I changed teams shortly after that, and things went up and up. It is something where, just like you said, you know, do you feel valued Well, I felt valued by the company, and by the teams I was working with, just not by my manager, but it made me really quickly realize I need to get off the team and make a change, and move to a place where I could be.

Russel Lolacher  
Thanks for that it really iterates the fact that a whole a whole experience can be completely damaged by one individual in an organization. We talk about culture, we talk about teams, but there can be one person that ruins it for everybody. It has way more influence on you individually than a great organization. I'm like I don't care Steve's an asshole. Like it really just depends on on your experience your relationship with them. So Thanks for that. And thank you for leading us down a negative path to start, Keith, I really appreciate that. I had all these butterflies and fuzzies from Robyn, but...you ruined it.

Keith Kmett  
Yeah, exactly. Well, if I would have started with all the positives, then like, you know, if we would never, we just never get to any negative things. But to your point, though, and you know that it's a telltale sign to leadership at the, at the top level, that if you don't think you can influence culture, like you're really, really wrong, like, if you're that top leader, you're one of the biggest influences of culture, just by the way you act and say things.

Russel Lolacher  
And something reminds me something I like to say as well as we use leadership way too often without putting context on it, like we talked about, here's our leader is that a shitty leader or a good leader, a leader doesn't define enough of what a person is, just because you have a title, you automatically may have influence based on where you fit in hierarchy. But that doesn't mean you're a good leader, just because you're in that position. Precisely. So speaking of positions, the topic for today is how you're positioned, I guess, within an organization, your team, you as an individual, because we're talking about silos, I guess the first thing we should mention is what is a silo? Like? How would you define a silo within an organization?

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
I think of it as teams just working on their own and not collaborating enough. I've seen it happen, unfortunately, too many times where and I don't think it's always intentional. You know, I think sometimes we just we can be so heads down, that we forget to stop pause, think about what are the goals that we're trying to accomplish? What are our objectives? And how do they connect back to the overall mission of the company and what other folks are doing? So I don't always think it's an intentional thing, but it is that lack of communication and lack of collaboration,

Keith Kmett  
I agree, Robin, I think it's I've heard it defined as business silos, and that could be at a country level, could be at a regional level could be, you know, but eventually comes that breaks down to people in teams. And that communication is a key part. As Russel mentioned, my my journalism background has taught me that community over communicating what we're working on is never a bad thing. And my prior employer, we are a global company of 70,000 people 17,000. And trying to let everybody know, that you're working on on a problem for the customer, and not have six other teams working on the same problem is, is a hard task to accomplish. In a large company.

Russel Lolacher  
You kind of alluded to it, Robyn, what is some of the reasons how an organization can get siloed? Because though people don't do it intentionally, sometimes it's the nature of their work, where it's just so involved, or, for instance, and for me, I work in a communications group in more of an engineering organization. So even the nature of our work has siloed. Us, intentionally, unintentionally. Any other ways, you can see how it's it would force that sort of bubble?

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
Yes, I think sometimes we do get focused on our department, and we are subject matter experts in X. And we do A-B-C, and then the other department or subject matter experts in something else, and they do everything else, right. But we forget that there are individuals with their own strengths. And they might have cross collaboration skills, right. So in my example, there was this company years ago, and they thought US researchers that the data analytics nerds only could crunch numbers. And we had to sit at our desks and crunch the numbers and never actually communicate with the client, you know, who were crunching the numbers for. So it was very siloed. As far as client has requests, the request goes to the team who interacts with the client, then that team relays that information to the researcher, and they do all that work, right. But you have to realize there's a lot that can get lost in translation in that request. And so I was one of those data nerds and and they realized, Oh, we can put her in a room with a client and let her listen to them and talk with them. And there was one time I remember the plan that they had given me, I said, Well, that's not the way to do it, I need to do something else. And actually, the something else cost me more work. But I was happy to do it because I knew that that was really gonna answer the question for the client. So that was an example of breaking down those silos. You know, let me come in and hear it straight from the clients mouth to get to the root of what kind of analysis do they really need, and then problem solved. And it was so much more efficient. You know, so instead of saying, Okay, you only fit into this box, you must only do this type of job. Let's recognize individual strengths and see if we can, you know, float them around into different departments and collaborate a little more.

Russel Lolacher  
Well, it's nailing that stereotypes actually might have a lot to do with silo creation, before we get into how to sort of change silos, or why you'd want to, let's dive into the other the utopia, what's a world where silos don't exist? Is that the goal? Is that what we're trying to get to?

Keith Kmett  
I think some of the Six Sigma folks would say, No, no, no, we need some of that operational efficiencies, we need some focus here. So like finding that balance, right, but I think a utopia for for me is finding a way to flow information. And it's it's a communication strategy that lets every employee understand what's going on. Well, how's this benefiting the customer? How's this benefiting the company? And like having that message, be upfront and center kind of? I was talking to another friend yesterday about this. And he called it the morning news, like, why couldn't it be my morning and evening news to understand like, of these things? And I think what, when you hear that people immediately jump to well, what are you talking about? We do status reports. But status reports don't tell the story. So like my background in the storytelling, you've got to you've got to humanize the story. You can't just say we, we, you know, we did this on this feature, we updated this, you know, it's no, you need to communicate in a way that humans are going to understand the story, because they don't know exactly the project, but they need to understand the impact of the project. They, they, they they're not asking for how the wrenches, you know, how you're building the engine? They're just understanding is it to run an Indy 500? Or is it just to get, you know, to the grocery store? Like what's, what's the engine for?

Russel Lolacher  
How dare you talk talk about context, Keith, and how important context and storytelling is. So we live in a world where everybody's talking to everybody? Doesn't that kind of just add more work? Robin, you did mention that by busting silos, maybe that's one of the downsides is that oh, now I have to do more work. Because more people want my time, more people want to talk to me more people want to engage with me?

Keith Kmett  
Well, and I think Keith hit on one of my favorite words - BALANCE, there is a balance with it all. So in that example, I gave in that particular issue, I was doing more work in one sense than what they had originally asked me to do. But in the long run, I think I've saved time and efficiency, because if I had delivered that first product that they wanted, it wouldn't answer the question, I probably would have gone back and forth, and it would have caused more work in another way. Right. But so I think it just really does come down to balance. So we don't want to over communicate. And so it's just in one air out the other, it's just getting the right kind of communication. And yeah, like we said before, you need the subject matter experts, making sure we got the right people in the right places. And maybe it's, you know, the high level leaders communicating between the different departments to make make sure. Are we all still working on the same goal? Are we not duplicating efforts, that kind of thing. So it's just the right communication from the right people to the right people, at the right time to? All those pieces of the puzzle have to fit together? Right.

Russel Lolacher  
So you've mentioned, we've mentioned some benefits here, we've mentioned the fact that it might reduce duplication of work, it allows people to understand what other people are doing within the organization to understand the value of what other people are doing. What are the other benefits is sort of breaking down those silos.

Keith Kmett  
I have seen it benefit by not duplication of product purchasing left software purchasing or procurement didn't, procurement didn't really know that the two projects overlapped. And, you know, the company that sometimes is has bought two solutions to solve the same problem. Then you get shelfware. Or you get competing solutions. And then you say, who was solutions better? And both both has have their data to say, No, we evaluated this software to do this, and we evaluated to this and we, and then you end up with both software packages and you're paying for a contract. But I've seen were coming together. One thing we implemented talking about balance with Robin is we implemented what I implemented in the past with my team so it's a cross functional quarterly look at what, you know, just portfolio of projects. What's the portfolio what What resources are used? And just asking the question, what resources are using to try to get that done? Is it it? Is it marketing, you know, what resources from, from a people perspective, and then what resources from a technology perspective, and we were able to actually start to map out our ecosystem of technology. And we were able to reduce the contracts, we were able to say, wow, we've got a lot of things that overlap. And we actually in the first year as a group, eliminated $400,000 worth of spend on software, because we realized we could all be using the same tool. So that's an example of how we a big benefit that hits the bottom line,

Russel Lolacher  
Saving money. Robyn any more benefits you can think of for buttons? 

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
Absolutely, it's solving problems. I've seen this happen in many clients that I work with, but one in particular stands out. So the client had customer surveys, right? So folks will come and shop in their stores, you want that feedback, how was your experience all that good stuff, right? And then that's managed by one team that looks at just that data and just those comments from the customers. And then they had another team who surveys those employees at those stores, right. And that was a completely separate team. Well, the problem was, those two teams never spoke. But when we were able to convince them, let's come start meshing this data together, looking at customers and employees feedback at the same time. And having these two teams within the organization communicate about the findings, they were able to solve problems much faster. So customers were complaining about a particular issue that was happy happening. Well, sure enough, the employees, even though they were not ever directly asked about this particular issue in their survey, they brought it up in their comments. And they even had a solution for it. But the folks on the customer side of the experience, they weren't looking at those employee comments to find the fun solution. But when we busted the silos and said, Hey, why don't you look at this integrated? It was like a light bulb went off, you know, and then boom, problem was solved. Because those frontline associates are the ones who are closest to the customers, of course, they're going to have good ideas on solving those problems, right?

Russel Lolacher  
Absolutely. I like also in your sort of underlying this as well is that there is a benefit of empathy too. Because if you understand what other people do in your organization, you have a better I guess your empathy muscle gets a little bit more of a workout, because you're like, oh, that's what they do. Oh, this is how they can help. This is how I can help them. Oh, no wonder they're busy all the time. It really encapsulates more of that understanding, and compassion and empathy to get more of a heartfelt organization, when we all know what everybody's doing, regardless of whether there even is overlap or not overlap. So how do we start the process of busting silos? I feel so aggressive, and I want to touch on that in a minute, too. But how do we sort of dismantle those silos within an organization?

Keith Kmett  
In the spirit of doing my customer experience background, a lot of times it's finding common ground, but looking like putting, starting with the customer needs, every every business and a lot of companies I've worked with and seen, you know, they'll have a laundry list of 72 different projects that they want to accomplish, or 172 projects that they have. And that might just be out of one business line. And so, you know, finding the using what what I've seen work successfully is part of it's because of the industry I'm in I think is using customer feedback to help influence what to prioritize, and what to focus on. And finding that common focus. Robin mentioned, you know, doing some of the strategic planning together, rather than as a team, you know, yes, you want to do it as a team. But when you say, let's connect it to what everybody else is doing, well, everybody else has already done their own independent bucket. And sometimes the buckets don't stack well together. So you've got to really say, Wait, maybe we should do the bigger broader planning together first, what are the big priorities? And then say, what can we do in in our controllable influence? As a group, right, collectively, and where does it make sense to partner? And where does it make sense to do things separately? I've seen that happen really, really successfully but using customer feedback and customer insight as a as a way of saying, How does this impact asking the question, how does this impact our customer? Well, not just saying how will this impact our business? But asking that additional question of how this impacts the customer and then it Should how will it impact our employees? If we do this? Those three questions I think need to be asked in every strategic planning.

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
Yeah, you know, I wasn't gonna let you get away without mentioning the employees. That's why we have to remember them, you know. But yeah, I agree with everything. He just said, you know, it's really just connecting back to what is our mission? What is our goal? How can we achieve that collectively, while also maintaining, you know, the specific groups that have their level of expertise in specific topics.

Keith Kmett  
To compliment that employee part is, you might find that you actually need to focus on doing a really strong improvement, improvement of employee experience, to deliver the best business outcome. Like you might really need to change something that's causing friction or impeding progress for employees to deliver the best experience. So that could be a number one priority in your business. And you'll see exponential outcomes from that.

Russel Lolacher  
I love the idea of let's bust silos by understanding we're all one organization under vision, mission and goals. But that's assuming your organization has a good vision, mission and goals, when many organizations do not or they become so convoluted, and people don't see themselves in it, that it can, I guess it can reinstate those silos. Because if people don't feel like they're connected to the organization, they're gonna want to feel connected to something. So they're going to want to feel connected to their work into their business unit. So not having that vision makes people go insular, because they're like, Well, if you're not going to tell me which direction I'm gonna go in, I'm gonna go inside the organization to figure it out ourselves, whether that's a purpose statement, whether that whatever that is for with the team, so an organization may not understand that they're actually contributing to siloing by not giving, inspiration, direction and all that stuff to the organization.

Keith Kmett  
It's a great point,

Russel Lolacher  
I hear curiosity in what you're saying, Keith, and I want to I want to bring that up and dig into that a bit. But I also want to ask, based on that vision mission problem, what is executives role in this? Or is it the role of each individual silo going, "I need to bust out and go make some friends."

Keith Kmett  
Yeah, it's a great question. You know, again, I've experienced, a lot of my experience has been in global companies. And so in the codeable, organization, and a lot of times, they say they're global, but they're more international. And what I mean by that is, there's the headquarters might be in the US, it might be outside of the US, but wherever the headquarters is, is, is the is the, you know, the core piece, and everybody else is kind of just, you know, doing what they're supposed to do whatever they're saying, but they actually don't feel they but like you just mentioned, they feel disconnected, they feel like they have to own their piece of the world, or the country they're in or the region they're in. And so what I have seen the successful programs with, starting at the CEO level, having that CEO recognize that and focus on we are a team focus that, you know, making sure that the the executive group sees themselves as a team, rather than individuals responsible for their own piece. Yeah, they're individuals responsible for their own piece, because that's what business school has taught you. But if you can't talk and communicate as a team, then it is the CEOs responsibility to break that down. First, make sure that they see each other as a team that they treat each other like a team and actually offer each other one, offer support for one another. Not just moral support, not just saying that's too bad, your business is doing terrible rustle, which we should, you know, you should really get that up because it's hurting us overall. It's like, that's not how to win, you know, and that's not how sports play or if you're playing football, or soccer, sorry, soccer in the US and football everywhere else. If you're playing on a soccer team, you know, one bad player, the whole team has to really rally around that person to make sure that you know, the ball doesn't get into our goal. So it's it's, but that's where I've seen it work really well is when the CEO says stop. We're, we're not acting like a team. Like we're not even supporting what we're not even willing to say, hey, robins having this problem, here's some resources. Let me help you. Like that didn't that's that wasn't happening. And I've seen it happen in a company where that wasn't happening. And the CEO said, Stop, let's start helping each other.

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
Yeah, and you can also the earlier Russel that made me think of the old idea of like, walk in someone else's shoes for the day, go sit and shadow someone to see really why is their job important or why do I have to do something that I think is Maybe menial or tedious or something. But when you explain the why behind it or how it impacts Oh, this other department, may I can think of something like billable hours timecard? Like, why is it so important to get your time cards? Well, because that impacts accounting, and we were going to make their lives difficult. We don't get these things in and time, right? Are our spin supports, little things like that, that might seem like admin tasks that take up time, but it doesn't pick someone else's job. So having that empathy, understanding the why not just go do this, but here's why I'm asking you to do this. Here's how it impacts everything else, the domino effect.

Russel Lolacher  
And we're talking questions like a lot of this has been asked questions, put yourself in their shoes. Get curious. How do you go about that? Is it Is there a list of questions? Is it just being available? What is it?

Keith Kmett  
I think there's, there's a lot of different attributes that somebody can take. But to your point, like, in what Robyn and I both talked about a lot, you know, we've seen, you know, a lot of articles saying like, empathy is the new leadership, to be a great leader, you're gonna have to be able to show empathy. And, but it's really hard for me to gauge in any level, how empathetic Russel feels about an employee or how empathetic Robyn feels like you have to witness a lot of things in order to see if that empathy Well, you know, I can't be your shadow every day. So what are other ways of trying to help people become more empathetic? And what I have found is curiosity is is a key here. That curiosity is something that we can use to say, Look, I can't Russel, I can't make you feel or be empathetic for somebody. But I can encourage you to ask them questions. And here are some questions you could ask, like, just check in, like, how are they doing? What are they needing in their day to day as an employee? Like, what's getting in their way of either helping a customer or what's good? What's stopping them? Right? Ironically, Agile does a lot of this in their stand ups from an IT world, you know, like an agile now has come more into the business world, right. But I see a lot of Scrum teams that still will do their stand ups. But they've left out one question, and they're in the methodology. And that question is, who needs help? They all just give a status report, but they never ask each other anymore. Oh, who needs help? Or can I help you with that? They just, they're just listening for the status reports. And then the, the it's over. And it's like, hey, the whole point of the Agile Manifesto, and this could be applied to business is to listen to the status reports, but then be curious enough to say, who needs help? Like, don't just watch them go down with the ship? And just ask the question, but I've seen that last Steven, an agile methodology with what Scrum teams.

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
Yeah. And what I've observed with probably the best leaders that I've seen in the workplace, are they they end meetings with? What can I do to support you? Or what can I do to help you those that is the best way for managers to help their teams and to increase productivity? So those that are really just looking to see what else can I do to make your day better to make your job easier? You know, what obstacles are in the way that I can help remove?

Russel Lolacher  
Where does culture fit into all this? It might, it might be a culture of curiosity, it might not, you might be going against the grain by even asking questions. Because some hierarchical organizations, you have to get approval to even talk to certain people, which is such bullshit. So culture really can be a hindrance in and help how have you seen that?

Keith Kmett  
Outside of this country. So I've worked in Latin America, I've worked in Chile and Mexico, Brazil, where culture is more hierarchical than ever, to even attempt to go to lunch with a senior leader is, is you know, you have to get approvals. And you have to make sure your leader knows that you're talking to this other leader and all these, you know, different steps to be able to talk to them, and then they'll get feedback on what if you ask them hard questions that stumped them, they would, you know, give you your leader feedback that you're asking them hard questions and, and you know, what it's like, what what why are they asking me these questions and they would just, you know, immediately go into that kind of defensive mode. So I witnessed this as a foreigner living abroad, going into a new culture, asking all these questions now, I think because I was a foreigner I got a pass, because I didn't know all the cultural norms. So I got to break some silos just by being ignorant to the culture, about once I learned the culture. It was it became, and they expected me to understand that part of the culture. It became one of these things where I just started wearing with a badge of honor that I'm going to ask questions, I just, you know, I was just determined to say, the culture we need to have at work is of curiosity, like it just needs to be let me ask questions, and I got to use my journalism background as an excuse. I'm like, I can't help it. I'm a journalism major. I'm not an engineer, I'm going to just ask a lot of questions. And you know, I will listen with all the intent. But let me ask my question, and I'll listen with all intent to your answer. And I think, also showing that you're going to listen, you're not judging, you're not asking to judge you're asking to just understand and listen is a key piece of it. 

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
Oh, that's perfect. Listening is a big factor. Because you know, you might come in and see a lot of things wrong, and you want change, change, change. But I've seen that really fail for some folks. Because you first do need to understand why is this culture the way it is? And if you don't like it right away, maybe pause, observe, listen to the why behind it, and then respectfully, push those boundaries and start asking, Well, what if we did it this way? What if we change some processes here and there, but at least understand the why behind it before you go in and just start, I guess busting too soon, but busting silos is our is our topic, someone keep busting things, right?

Keith Kmett  
If you get a response of why you're asking me this question, then they think you have a motive. That's probably not your motive. But they've already they've already put that mental, block that mental silo now in. And so you're now you've got to figure out a way to tear it down. So your curiosity won't won't win them over. It'll just build a bigger wall. So finding the right way to approach it. Yeah, Robin is a key piece, and just being open to listening. You know, one of the best leaders that I ever witnessed this would always lay down with just the utmost humility, his ignorance on the table, I've seen him do it in front of like, on board in front of executives. It's just like, I am no expert at this. I really don't have these answers. Just really lay it out there. And he's like, I just want to ask this question. And let's have a discussion. And, and he's like, because I'm just not a smart person. I don't know. But here it is. And he would lay it out. And every time he did that, like, you saw the whole room, all the walls just dropped. Because he was just so humble about saying, I don't know, I really don't know. And, and, but but here's the question I can ask, and maybe it's the wrong question. He would say, maybe it's even the wrong question. But every time he did that, the demeanor of the whole room would change. And he could just work the room, and then he could really ask the questions. 

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
Well, that's great. And then I'm sure the group felt safe to ask their own questions because of that. And then everyone learns.

Keith Kmett  
Oh yeah. A lot more people. Exactly.

Russel Lolacher  
I love the fact you're talking about curiosity and humility, being such a driver for change. But I've also been in rooms where we're talking about busting silos, and I'll never forget this, we were doing a workshop about it. And there was an IT guy, I don't want to pick on it. But it was off in the corner. And I literally heard him mumble. But I liked my silo. Because he feels it was a he felt that he could be more productive by being heads down, focused on my work and not having to worry about anybody else's work. So how do you approach those people that are much happier, just within their shiny cone of silence?

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
I get it. Change is hard. When things when we're heads down, and we're in our groove, I get it, it is hard to to get that change initiated. So how do you do it? I think it is. Again, I'm gonna go back to the why. Let's just not say this is what we're doing. But here's why we're doing it. And here's what I think we're gonna see when we break down the silos and communicate a little bit more in and put people like I said before, put play at people's strengths. In fact, I've done a lot of research on drivers of engagement over the years and Using people's strengths is one of the key drivers of them being engaged in their job. So to that IT person, maybe don't push him past his boundaries where it's so uncomfortable, but nudge him, but so use his strengths in certain ways, right? But it's just explaining the why behind the change.

Keith Kmett  
I actually know I had this conversation with somebody with with it. Again, my background is so diverse, I was actually a developer once. So I kind of can speak the lingo as well. And I did have somebody a leader kind of say, I just want to go do my own thing, just focus on this. And the way I challenged, that response was, one we have we had a culture that was, you know, every leader wants to be seen as a strategic leader, so that they could be part of the strategy, and be in the room when that happens. And so I just said, to this person that says, you know, I just want to just, I don't care about this, I just want to do my thing. And I was like, Okay, well, I'm, I'm, like, you know, like, strategic, like, from a strategy perspective, how will you know, if you're working on the right things, if you're not in the loop on these things? How will you know that the the orders you're being given, actually, are the ones you should be prioritizing and working on. And I said, so if you want to be strategic about it, like, let's, let's mitigate the risk of you potentially taking on work that you shouldn't be doing. And you know, when you have it, good, go. But just check your side mirrors every now and then I always used car analogies. It's like, check your rear view mirror, check your side mirrors and make sure that you're not barreling down the road and you know, you're actually going down the wrong way, or you know, what's going on, but like, that's all we're asking you to do. And again, my approach was checking, finding the right cadence to have that, let them go for three months, and then bring them back and then go for three months. But then eventually, that person that I mentioned, that I worked with, eventually turned into a monthly check in, not because of me asking, they started asking because they started seeing the value of the quarterly check it off. So like you said, nudge him Robin, but it's a you do have to give sometimes a good push.

Russel Lolacher  
Well, I use the term "busting silos", because that's the vernacular people use when it comes to what we're talking about. But that's not what we're talking about at all. We're talking about, let's look over our silo, look over and see what they're working on, personalize it, understand them before come like that's why I was like busting silos feel so aggressive. Because as a lot of research dictates, the more aggressive you are to other people's work stances opinions, they'll just dig in their heels even more and go, I'm just gonna focus on what I'm gonna focus on, I don't care about you. So by making it about them, and not about you, and sort of nudging the silo or tapping on the silo, to sort of remove it is a lot more beneficial. And, Keith, I love that we talked about curiosity. But what you've just done is made them curious. It's not just about being curious yourself. It's about inspiring others to be curious about you, too. So it sort of connects those dots together. I love that.

Keith Kmett  
I think the I think quarter the quarterly in person meetings I had with free lunches also helped, like the free lunch did help. But it actually doesn't build those...

Keith Kmett  
Bribery always work, man. Free lunch?

Keith Kmett  
I know, right? 

Russel Lolacher  
Especially the former journalist, of course you'll show up. 

Keith Kmett  
Exacdtly. You volunteer at school anywhere, you know, you bring food, you bring snacks. I've been late at meetings, thrown out candy on the table and said, I'm like nobody said anything. They just picked up candy and ate.

Russel Lolacher  
So we're miracle workers, we've taken an organization and we've removed I'm trying to be a little less a little less aggressive language, those silos. What's the downside of this? I remember talking to both of you pre this this show, and employee recognition came up a little bit of if we're all in this together, but people like to be recognized differently for the hard work that they do. So I can see that being. But wait a second, Jimmy over there. I didn't do as much work as I did. But now we're all part of one team. So we all get recognized as a team, so I can see it impacting people personally that way. Any words on that or other downsides of silo busting?

Keith Kmett  
That's what But we started to see, yeah, we started to see people that wanted more of that credit, recognition. Say that, you know, sure, I'm proud of the team. Sure the team got recognized, but me individually, either through compensation or other accolades, they didn't feel that they got enough credit for their efforts. Or they would feel that, you know, they've started to get animosity of, you know, this leader, more this leader took credit for us didn't even mention us, you know, what the heck. And this is where the, for me, the next phase of things was coaching people how to communicate, that kind of goes back to our communication, coaching leaders to say that, you know, it's going to be really vital to the team that helped pull like the the cross functional teams that help make this happen. If you do not mention them all, you will be find yourself on an island, and they will move on without you. So meaning, I kind of threatened them and saying, you're going to create your own silo, but in a bad way, because the whole what's going to happen is the now the new pipeline of getting work is going to exclude you out because you're not being inclusive. And so like, I was trying to coach leaders around that, to help that, but that's exactly the culture that's you can mitigate that risk through better communication and coaching on that. And my opinion, Robyn, I'm not sure from your experience.

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
going back to understanding the individuals, how do they like recognition, you know, some don't want a whole bunch of attention. Some, you know, maybe it's not a large announcement from the whole company, but just within that team, you know, recognizing the individual efforts. So it's, again, it's a balance, right, of recognizing the team's efforts, but then finding what individual efforts went into that and making sure in one way or another, whatever they're comfortable with, comfortable with that they are recognized for their efforts.

Keith Kmett  
That's a good point. Know the people you're working with

Russel Lolacher  
Any other downsides to removing silos and being a more of a flat organization?

Keith Kmett  
Sometimes I have, I've seen this happen, sometimes you think this, these two projects should be working together, and it doesn't work out. And you, you know, that's, that's a downside, because it can look like, you know, like an utter failure. But for me, it's always just been a key learning. It's like, okay, it's not that these two teams couldn't work together, it was, this was the wrong thing to connect.

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
And I would just say to stop, evaluate, was this the right path? You know. Reiterate, if we need to change course, don't just say, well, we committed to doing it this way. We have to do it. No, maybe not. Maybe not. Like Keith said, maybe it's it's not the right for these two groups to be together, you know, maybe we keep the cells for this particular project, or whatever it is. So I would just say, constantly evaluate. And, you know, you don't have to stick to something just because you said, we're gonna go down this path, you know, you might be able to change, you have a greater problem.

Keith Kmett  
Yeah. Because you could get disengaged, you can get then disengaged employees, and then people like, churn and people start leaving, just because one project went wrong. And it's like, wait a second, you know, did we have to commit to that? No.

Russel Lolacher  
Well, I'm going to finish the episode with the big question I asked every episode, which is, and I'll start with you, Dr. Robyn, what is one simple thing, people can do one simple action. What's one simple action people can do right now, to improve their relationships at work?

Robyn Petree-Guzman  
I'm gonna stick to my positivity theme. And say think positively. And what I mean by that is when you interact with people throughout your day, whatever their intention was, trying to assume it was a positive intention. I'm gonna go back to my old psychology 101 book from when I was an instructor, is that attribution bias, the example of if you're driving in traffic, and someone cuts you off, a lot of people's immediate response is, oh, that person's an idiot, you know, there's something about their character, right? But change your mind and say, Oh, maybe they have an emergency. And maybe they didn't mean to do this to me, right? So do that throughout your workday to if someone you know, is short with you or says something to offend you, oh, maybe they're just having a really bad day. Or maybe you know, and just try it for one day and see how you feel at the end of that day compared to you know, all these other things that you might normally go throughout your day and like assuming the worst of people, so just think positively.

Russel Lolacher  
Keith, bring it home. What is one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work? 

Keith Kmett  
I'll go to to a page out of my own playbook, I'm a mixologist of people, I will, I would challenge listeners to pick two to three different different people that you know. So you can be this hub. So pick two or three people that you know, from different departments and invite everybody to like, either a zoom coffee, or an actual coffee, whatever you can do. And just bring three to four to two or three, four people, random people together, and just make introductions amongst them, and start by saying, Hey, did you know like, if you know, some common themes, Hey, did you know Robin does this or has this hobby or you know, but make those connections at a company that my prior company, the company was so large, I started doing a mixology of people, it got up to about sometimes 20 or 30 people at a wine mixer. And it but what it did was I started to bring in HR people together. And the best moment I ever saw in doing this challenge was having a VP talk to a call center operator. And they didn't know because we didn't The one rule was don't share titles. So it was you can't say what your title was. But they didn't know each other. And they talked and talked and had a great conversation and then later looked up each other at work. Who was that? And realized, wow. And that VP said, I need to talk to more people in the call center now. And I was like, Yeah, you do, because they're really good people. So I would just challenge everybody to, you know, be a connector, be a connector and make a simple gesture. Invite two random people that you know, that wouldn't ever work together and see if those connections. See if there's a spark.

Russel Lolacher  
Realize that you work with people, not titles. I absolutely love that, Keith. So that'll do it for this episode. Thank you very much to Keith command and Dr. Robin Petree-Guzman, thank you so much both for being here today.

Keith Kmett  
Thanks, Russel.

Russel Lolacher  
We're tipping. We're tipping over silos. We're not busting them. We are nudging silos. There you go. I'm trying to make my language better. Take care!

Transcribed by https://otter.ai