Organizational silos are a problem for many businesses. Unlike the silos that farmers use to separate different types of grain, the silos in businesses that separate employees can be detrimental to a culture.
Rather than "breaking down silos” to encourage teamwork, we recommend connecting the silos instead. This Inc. article from Greg Satell states that, “For any significant task, you need highly skilled specialists working closely together.” That creates natural silos. So how do you connect all of your silos to have a functional organization working toward one mission?
Here are some strategies to implement today:
Act On Your Values
Many organizations define their values, put them on the wall and call it good. You’d be better off not putting them on the wall if you can’t clearly point out actions and behaviors that support your values every minute of every day. Put together a team of “values drivers” from each area and ask them to help integrate your values into everything you do.
Articulate the Purpose
In this Inc. article, Satell references Chris Fussell’s book One Mission. Do all of your employees understand their function as it relates to the bigger picture? Again, get that mission off the wall and into action. What exactly are you trying to accomplish and how exactly does each employee’s work tie to that.
Have Your Leaders Leave Their Egos at the Door
“Silos” can be good to build strong, functional teams, but not when one team or one leader has to outdo the other. We’re not against competition, but only when it’s about reaching your overall goals and doing what’s right by your customers. Satell states that a leader’s “primary function is no longer to plan and direct action, but to inspire and empower belief around a single mission and to shape networks that enable actions to take place...”
Connect Employees With Other Silos
You’ve hired smart people and they want to use their brains for more than you hired them for. Connect employees across the organization to solve a problem. Have employees work in different departments for a couple of days to fully understand what they do and how they’re impacted by actions outside of their department.
We always thought silos were divisive, but this new approach to connecting strong teams makes more sense.
If you have a few more minutes, read Greg Satell's article in Inc. Breaking Down Silos Is a Myth, Do This Instead