Picture this situation: you’ve just left the office after another long day of miscommunication with your team members, your boss and other coworkers outside of your department. Instead of accomplishing any impactful work, your calendar was booked with meetings to clarify objectives and responsibilities, and half these conversations only further muddied the water. Upper management is seemingly unaware of the daily operations for those they manage, and your work team can never see eye-to-eye with other departments when handling larger projects or issues.
All of these problems are symptoms of a larger, extenuating challenge to internal collaboration, communication, and unification: the silo mentality. If this scenario describes your company’s culture, there’s a good chance that internal silos are obstructing your company from performing at 100%. For both the happiness of your employees and the wellbeing of the organization, breaking these business silos as they emerge is an essential step to creating a more unified work team.
What exactly are business silos?
The silo mentality occurs when different departments and hierarchy levels in your organization fail to share ideas and information to others outside their interpersonal bubble. The name for these communication gaps was inspired by the idea of a farm silo, which stores, isolates and seals in each of the farm’s outputs in its place.
Often, silos are symptomatic of greater issues within the business’s infrastructure, resulting in a blurred company identity and greater challenges with collaboration and adaptability. Often, they are barriers that businesses create when growing from small companies to larger ones that require designed departments and a more organized structure.
How can businesses overcome business silos?
Silos are a relatively simple concept to understand and identify, but the real-world application of eliminating them from your workplace is more challenging than you might suspect. Namely, this is because silos rely on a collective conscious—or a shared concept between all team members—as to how your business should operate. Breaking the silo mentality, therefore, requires changing individual mentalities at every level of the business.
Businesses looking to break out of their silos should consider the following strategies:
Unify Your Communication Tactics
Ultimately, silos in the workplace are a failure to connect and communicate with others, which is why it’s important to evaluate your communication methods as the first step in breaking down organizational barricades. Technology makes it easier than ever to connect with team members, both inside and outside of the office, but the hidden cost of this is a disjointed communication strategy. Some teams use unsecured chat platforms for share confidential information, while others rely on long, cryptic email chains to relay information that could benefit from a faster response. Designed to eradicate your team through a streamlined platform, unified communications technology helps break down silos by providing designated channels for chatting, texting, calling and web conferencing on a company-wide platform.
Encourage Cross-Departmental Collaborations
If your company is large enough to have distinct departments, you know the time and energy that miscommunication between different areas of the business can cause. Since 86% of employees fault a lack of collaboration for work-related failures, encouraging collaborative projects in the workplace is essential to keep employees engaged and to position your organization at the forefront of innovation. For businesses struggling to find opportunities to cross-collaborate, company-wide training, team-building programs, quarterly business presentations and several other strategies are all ideal environments to help your team members start mingling with others outside of their area of the office.
Establish Your Company Vision
Company vision statements are a simple but effective remedy for businesses suffering from hierarchical silos. They require stakeholders to consider what they want the future of their business to look like, which in turn provides the rest of the company a true-north for them to aim toward day-in and day-out. By widely disseminating your mission statement, you ensure that every department and individual can reflect on the bigger picture outside of their personal workflows and measure the success of the company outside of their own performance.
Utilize Workflow Mapping
Siloed businesses are organizations that struggle to deliver their product or service with the time-efficiency and quality that the customer desires. This is because siloing isolates teams, making it difficult to generate new solutions or quickly address problems as they arise. Business Enterprise Mapping works by analyzing your workflows to create a unified process for conducting your business. This inherently helps dissolve workplace silos by creating a well-designed system involving all necessary parties, regardless of their department or elevation in the company.
Why does it matter?
As with all business decisions, you and the rest of your leadership team should consider why breaking up silos will be worth the time, effort and energy you dedicate to this project. After all, there is value to using departments to define your business structure. But if you can find the ideal balance between designated roles and a company culture where collaboration and information-sharing are valued, you’ll help your business remain flexible to adversities in the future and streamline toward a lean-manufactured business model and delivery strategy.
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