Overcoming Silos in Your Teams

Introduction

A silos team can cause significant problems in an organization. Silos happen when individual teams don’t share information and work with each other across their department’s boundaries. The problem with silos is that they can limit your teams from taking advantage of opportunities available to them and make collaboration difficult, if not impossible, among different groups that could otherwise combine their resources or skills to achieve something more significant than they would have on their own.
Silos aren’t just unsightly; they are bad for business, as they prevent teams from working together in the most efficient way possible. Silos are created when different departments don’t work together effectively. They often develop when there are issues with how decisions are made or how the people within an organization see each other. Unfortunately, silos negatively impact an organization’s ability to function smoothly and decrease its overall productivity and efficiency, leading to frustration among both employees and managers.

Origins

Getting a team to do great work requires crossing organizational borders, but working with people from other departments or countries can be challenging. As organizations expand and projects become more global, they become more and more separated into silos, making it difficult to build effective relationships between co-workers. Solving issues becomes an uphill battle because each party works with different information and goals. It creates three main problems:

1) Everything takes longer
2) You end up duplicating effort
3) Collaboration suffers

It’s hard to come together around a common goal when everyone has different priorities and assumptions about how things should be done. If cross-organizational siloing is causing issues on your team, here are five solutions for overcoming it Robust communication plan.

Communication is a critical component of solving any problem, but there needs to be buy-in across all parties before you start. Make sure each person understands their role in making decisions about information sharing so that everybody feels like their voice is being heard. Consistent meetings can also help bridge organizational barriers if you schedule them regularly.

Prevention and Resolution

There are generally two types of silo problems. First, there are issues caused by natural human behavior, where employees clump together based on common interests or characteristics. People often turn to people like them when they need advice or have a problem. Next, you have situations where a formal hierarchy creates barriers between departments, or departments don’t trust each other to share information. Most silo issues can be resolved by simply ensuring that all employees understand and respect what their fellow workers do every day .when someone has a question about another department’s responsibilities.

It is answered quickly and accurately rather than ignored as outside a team member’s scope of expertise. Use regularly scheduled meetings either team or company-wide to inform everyone involved what other divisions are working on and why those projects matter. Share not only successes but failures, too. That way, everyone understands that even though things might not go according to plan, everyone at least understood why things had been planned out as they were and how learning from mistakes would lead to success next time around.

Technology as enabler

Communication is critical, and in most companies, some silos inhibit communication. Your success as a manager depends on being able to help people move outside their silo. But how? Let me offer some tips that have worked for me. First, you need to understand what drives employees to act or not act. Typically, individual workers operate out of self-interest, even when motivated by a desire to do their best. Believe they will be rewarded if they succeed and punished if they fail.

Because no one wants to be punished, such natural inclinations may create barriers to sharing information across functional lines. Employees become siloed due to fear; fear of losing credibility with co-workers; fear of looking foolish if others learn about mistakes or failures; fear of giving up control over their domain. The list goes on and on. Whether these fears stem from rational premises or faulty logic, overcoming them is difficult because each barrier can lead to emotional responses. Those emotional responses must be addressed before actual progress can occur.

Integrated, Not Isolated

If you’re part of a team, chances are pretty good that each person comes from a different background, with other ideas and needs. Unfortunately, solving these problems by separating people or siloing them has traditionally been considered an effective strategy.

Unfortunately, siloing has several unintended consequences. It discourages collaboration, damages communication, and discourages exchanging ideas and best practices. Silos make problems more difficult because solving any problem requires cross-team effort.

So, attacking an issue solo is like building a house on sandy soil. Working together is far more efficient than not; when everyone works together and shares information freely, they can share their experiences and resources. The entire group benefits. And productivity increases simply because no single team member or group of employees has to shoulder all responsibility for making things happen alone. Don’t isolate your employees; encourage and facilitate integrated, collaborative teamwork instead.

So Long to Silos

Silos are one of those problems we’re all familiar with, yet we seem to be unable to overcome them. It’s hard enough to hire good people and keep them around, so why bother even trying to fix something that may be impossible? because there is so much more upside than downside. By tearing down silos and creating cross-functional communication channels, you allow information to flow, good ideas are shared across teams, and people get a sense of ownership of something bigger than themselves.

So, if you want to lead an organization or group where everyone is working towards a common goal instead of on different, unconnected objectives, then breaking down silos should be a key objective from day one. Below are some things you can do to help bring about change.

1) Ensure transparency: Start with basic tasks like letting employees know what they own and who they depend on when making decisions. Then, use projects as a way to break down internal processes step by step, so folks can see exactly how everything works. The more transparent your organization becomes; the faster problems will be solved because everyone knows about them sooner.

2) Encourage collaboration: Once you break silos down, it becomes easier for employees to reach out and share knowledge between functions, which means trust rises quickly. When people feel like they can rely on others, they’re more likely to take risks and innovate.

3) Promote communication: Another way to collaboration is by encouraging regular communication between employees. This can be done in a number of ways, like hosting department-wide meetings or setting up cross-functional teams. But, the goal should always be the same: get everyone talking to each other on a regular basis.

4) Make it easy to share information: The final piece of the puzzle is creating an infrastructure that makes it easy for employees to share information. This includes everything from using the same software platforms to developing company-wide standards for things like document sharing and communication protocols. By making it easier for folks to share knowledge, you make it that much harder for silos to form in the first place.

Breaking down silos is a big task, but it’s one that’s worth taking on if you want to create a more cohesive, productive workplace. By increasing transparency, encouraging collaboration, and promoting communication, you can help break down the barriers that stand in the way of progress. And, by making it easy to share information, you can set your organization up for success in the long run.

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