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The One Picture That Proves Your Company Culture is Broken

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A friend of mine posted a photograph taken at a local non-profit. The image is of the parking lot. And if you know one more crucial detail, you’re probably going to put your palm in your face.

The photo was taken around midday, just as people began to arrive for the volunteer appreciation luncheon.

Workplace culture - parking lot on volunteer appreciation day

A great way to show appreciation for your volunteers is to block off the best parking spots, right?

Of course that’s not really what happened. It’s probably the case that the building is doing some maintenance to the lot and needed to cordon off these spaces. It may also be the case that this is left over from another project and just has not been cleaned up.

But in any case, this one picture of a parking lot strikes at the heart of so many culture problems at so many companies. It’s an issue that is everywhere.

It’s called the silo effect.

In the case of this non-profit, the people managing the parking lot and the people managing the volunteer luncheon were not talking to each other. Hence, a bunch of cones demonstrate the silo effect phenomenon.

The reason the silo effect happens is because people are focused on their jobs rather than focusing on a unified organizational mission. Your job is not to maintain facilities or plan luncheons. Your job, in this case, is to make stakeholders feel welcomed.

So if you’re going to have a luncheon, you might want to make sure that everyone knows there will be a building full of people who may not know where to park and what to do. And if you’re going to tear apart the parking lot, you might want to make sure that everyone knows that the building will not be as accessible as usual.

Addressing the silo effect is more than just inter-departmental communication. Organizations need to figure out what is most important (their mission) and put that at the forefront.

Then, they won’t be punishing volunteers for showing up to be appreciated. And they won’t end up here in a blog post.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


Troublemaker and productivity/workflow expert. Slightly more complex than 140 characters will permit.
@lorraineball First probably depends on the business. But second is likely training, especially with regard to sales. - 4 weeks ago
Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

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