In my recent article, I shared the concept of the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, which, in my opinion, is a huge problem I see in organizations today. And if I were to take a deeper dive into the factors that hold organizations back from achieving success, another huge problem I see is silos.
What are silos?
According to Inc.com, Organizational silos describe the isolation that occurs when employees or entire departments within an organization do not want to, or do not have the adequate means to share information or knowledge with each other. Siloed teams often end up working in isolation from the rest of the company, leading to a plethora of internal and external problems for employees, executives, partners and customers.
Departmental silos become problematic when departments develop tunnel vision, solely focused on their own functional area. They can lose sight of the big picture and fail to take into account the impact of what they’re doing in other departments. Communication and transparency between departments breaks down, resulting in organizational dysfunction on multiple levels.
A survey from MyCustomer.com, shows that 40 percent of company employees report that they aren’t adequately supported by their colleagues because “different departments have their own agendas.”
To help executives and employers spot these emerging and established company silos, CMSWire’s Kaya Ismail has consulted business leaders to get their help on identifying silos before they become a major problem. In my 17 years of leading workshops and working within organizations, I can fully agree with these signs. In my workshops, I’ve seen employees blatantly blame other employees for problems they are having on their job. Here are 3 ways to determine if you have a silo problem.
Broken customer experiences
“The most obvious sign of siloed teams, and what ultimately makes them extremely undesirable, is a broken customer experience,” Harris explains. One example he offers is an eCommerce brand that doesn’t have the technology or communication channels in place to discern potential customers from existing customers. “If you’ve already purchased from an eCommerce brand but their marketing team treats you like a [potential] customer, [it points to sales and marketing teams that are] siloed,” he says.
Us versus them mentalities
When departments get isolated, they begin to develop an “us vs them” mentality, seeing other departments as competitors and obstacles to success. Jay Goldman offers this point, “Protectionist thinking [can develop as a result of silos], where people don’t share information or collaborate with one another out of fear that another team’s gain will be their loss.” He also shares that with time, this could lead to “subcultures (or even cliques) with their own separate and distinct cultures that may not align with a company’s overall mission and culture.”
Another common sign linked to organizational silos is task duplication. If there’s no communication, there’s no way to know if the work you’re doing isn’t simultaneously being done by somebody else in another department. And that, according to Ken Tacelli, COO of Bedford, MA.-based Datawatch, is a sign that managers need to watch for. “One of the tell-tale signs of a heavily siloed organization is duplication,” he says.
He warns that businesses that lack collaboration will have individuals and teams in different departments working on similar assignments and projects, which will ultimately lead to inefficiencies and loss of productivity. “The best-case scenario for this duplication of data analysis is that teams came up with the same result. However, in many cases, these individuals or teams produce different numbers causing disagreements about who had analyzed the ‘correct’ data and which can be fully trusted,” he says.
While there are many tell-tale signs, these are the ones I see more often than not. How does your organization measure up? If you can identify with at least one of these points, I would suggest you make it a point to address.
Silo is a business term that has been passed around and discussed at many boardroom tables over the last 30 years. Unlike many other trendy management terms, this is one issue that has not disappeared over the years. Departmental silos are seen as a growing pain for most organizations. It is the duty of the executive leaders and management to prepare and equip their teams with the proper mind-set and vision to break down these destructive organizational barriers.
And if you’d like to arrange a discovery session to discuss how you can get your team on the same page or if you would like to arrange a specialized team building experience for your employees, contact me at email@example.com
• Keshelle Davis is a multi award-winning entrepreneur, corporate and business trainer and the chief executive officer of the Training Authority. She is the former executive director of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Institute and an internationally recognized speaker and author. She is the creator of popular personal and professional development programs including Excel School, The Dreamboard Party Experience, The Planners Retreat and more. She has helped thousands of people fulfill their vision, obtain mastery and become more productive in their lives. To comment on the article or join her list for free monthly training tips, email firstname.lastname@example.org.