How to get rid of departmental silos

Updated: Jun 28, 2021


As per Andrew Carnegie, “Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment towards organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

One of the most popular acronyms of the word Team is “Together Everyone Achieves More.” Achieving business goals and results remain the most important thing in every organization. Oftentimes employees in the discharge of the work create artificial barriers known as silos that impede the efficient flow of information among team members across the departmental lines within the same organization. This is referred to as “Silos mentality”. The Business Dictionary defines the Silos mentality as “a mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with other teams in the same company.” Patrick Lencioni of the Table’s Group describes silos as nothing other than the barriers presents between departments within an organization, which makes people who are supposed to be on the same team to compete with one another. This, according to Forbes, when permitted in an organization – reduces morale, enthusiasm, productivity and ultimately the efficiency of the overall company operation.

Causes of silos in organizations include conflicts, lack of transparency and effective communication among organizational members. According to the Harvard Business Review, silos are the primary killer of innovation in organizations. It impedes the realization of all company goals. Subsequently, business leaders and executives at all cadres in organizations must seek for ways to re-orient the mindset of their team members in other to get rid of all existing departmental silos affecting the free flow of information across the various teams in the organization.

The rest of this article talks about how to get rid of departmental silos:

1. Recognizing and Accepting the Presence of Silos

Many CEOs do not admit the presence of silos mentality in their organizations. This makes getting rid of it much more difficult. Adequate training would ensure that leaders are able to identify silos within their teams in their various offices and departments, and across the organization. Leaders must accept responsibility to work with all staff, emphasizing the need for staff to develop and prioritize traits that include openness, transparency, trust, constructive criticism, accountability and collaboration as they relate with one another. Practicing each of these traits would prevent the development of silos mentality among staff.

2. Leveraging the Organization Unified Vision

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle.

A vision is an unambiguous, comprehensive, ‘picture’ of an organization at some point in the future. It provides answers to what an organization wants to achieve in the future. To get rid of departmental silos, business leaders must leverage the organization unified vision and mission above all other goals in the company. Each department in an organization has its own goals; however, these should align with and support the realization of the overall organization vision. Leaders at all levels in organizations must always remind their teams of the unified vision of the organization. They must encourage all staff to prioritize working towards these goals and vision and hold them above their individual departmental goals.

3. Work towards a Common Goal

Having identified and communicated the organization unified vision and mission to all staff, the leadership must decide on a common goal, that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound that all departments would work together on. The agreed goal per time must align with the unified organization vision and must involve input from every department. According to Brent Gleeson in the Forbes media, leaders must communicate organizational goals to all employees. Also, all employees across all the departments must provide their input to the success of the goal per time. This would provide a common ground for all staff to work together for the overall interest of the organization.

4. Take Advantage of the IKEA Effect

The IKEA Effect states that “People who make meaningful contributions into the early stages of a process will be more interested in it down the line.” Based on this philosophy, business leaders should ensure early involvement of members across various departments in major organizational projects. With this, every department would have a stake which would encourage team members from all departments to make contributions that would ensure the success of the project. With mind-mapping software, business leaders can receive inputs into a project in its early stages from people across the entire organization. Software like Meister Task allows business leaders to turn each idea into a task. It also adds contributors to the project as followers to notify them of project progress.

5. Make it Safe

Silos mentality thrives in environments where people feel unsafe, unwanted and demoralized. However, in environments where there is trust, appreciation, empathy and understanding, people become more open and freely collaborate with others. Business leaders should work on making the workplace safe for everyone. Once people have the feeling of being safe, loved and celebrated, it would encourage them to talk and make information available to other people.

6. Re-direct your team’s competitive energy to external targets

A healthy competitive spirit within the team encourages every member to go beyond the call of duty in the discharge of their work. This would help members uncover hidden potential and talent which can be of great benefit to the team. However, this becomes damaging, when team members from a department see other department teams as competitors, instead of partners and collaborators. Rather than competing with one another, CEOs should encourage teams to compete with best practices in their industry. Leaders should ensure that team members remain focused on the overall big ‘picture’, which is the fulfillment of the organization unified vision and mission.

7. Use of Information Technology Tools in promoting collaboration

Collaboration is the key to achieving business goals. A Harvard Business Review Report mentions that collaboration technology is driving dramatic improvement in organizations’ efficiency, productivity and business decisions. Business leaders can leverage the use of IT tools that include Smartphone, Video Conferencing, CRM and many more for better communication and effective information dissemination across various units in the organization.

Conclusion

Customers remain the most important people in every business, and the reason a business exists. In view of this, every decision taken must consider the overall good of the customers. However, organizations with silos mentality would find customer attraction and retention scarce. CEOs must do all that they can to get rid of silos mentality in their organizations and ensure a seamless customer experience.





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