Organisational silos are, unfortunately, part of many growing organisations and unlike their cereal storing counterpart, are rarely benign. When organisations should be close-knit and work as a single body, what happens in reality is that each department end up working as independent bodies, seldom communicating with each other. They can act like fortresses and end up becoming a barrier to communication and innovation, by acting only in the interest of a given silo, instead of the whole organisation.
It is up to the executive leaders and managers to prepare and provide their teams with the right mindset, to break down these barriers. We have a few suggestions:
Create a consolidated vision – the leadership team needs to have a core understanding of the company’s long-term goals, departmental objectives and key initiatives within the leadership team, prior to passing it down to our teams. A unified leadership will encourage trust, create a feeling of empowerment with employees and destroy the “my department” mentality, to then be replaced by the “my organisation” mentality.
Aim for a common goal – One the unified vision of the organisation has been established, then the reasons for the siloing need to be identified and addressed. Once the issue has been diagnosed, all executives and team members need to work together towards achieving that common goal. All employees should also be made aware of this objective and understand how much impact they have individually, as this will also improve motivation and engagement. Creating cross-functional teams to work on company-wide problems and establishing common platforms and systems across the organisation to facilitate access to the same data and information are all good places to start.
Motivate and incentivise – The final steps of silo elimination are execution and implementation. Employee motivation is key in this and what defines a successful manager is the ability to identify what really motivates people, as well as communicating it effectively to a wide range of people. Once the common goal has been selected, it’s up to each manager to motivate and incentivise their team in a suitable way.
Execution and metrics – Leaders must provide a time frame, benchmarks for success, objectives and delegate tasks to other members of the membership team. If you are using an idea management programme, setting up challenges, workflows and review stages would be done at this stage.
Collaboration and tapping into your employee’s creativity – To create a productive team, you need knowledge, collaboration, creativity and confidence. Without these points, any collaborative effort is doomed to fail. As such, organisations have to foster cross-departmental teamwork, reduce unnecessary long and frequent meetings, provide space (physical and virtual) for meetings and collaboration and encourage constructive feedback.
This is not an easy task for organisations, however, whoever avoiding dealing with these issues will cause longer term problems for employees and the overall organisation.