If you are wondering how to get rid of silos, I have a newsflash for you…
Workplace silos are NOT barriers to be torn down.
Silos are VALUABLE connections!
You don’t want to get rid of silos, because they demonstrate existing links between people based upon shared challenges, values, and contexts.
You see them… but they are not created to divide people. In fact, they exist to unite people to others with similar circumstances.
When you are frustrated by unnecessary, duplicate tasks, or our efforts to communicate are thwarted by blocked channels, silos may seem have a negative effect on efficiency.
But when a team leader asks me the question “can you help us break down silos?,” my response is always the same:
“you just need to create more quality connections.”
Whether it’s departmental or within a department, silos occur because people make those connections and stick to them. People need to be more connected to each other and to a compelling common goal, so that silos are smaller parts of, and contributing to, a larger whole.
I worked for over 20 years as a basketball coach before venturing into team-building and sharing insights as a teamwork speaker. And having coached, I would wager that you have heard the phrase, “there’s no I in team.”
It sounds good, right?
Well, I disagree.
Every athlete I ever coached was an individual first.
Each person in your office is an individual first.
Leaders need to show people that they are a part of something bigger. When we notice the ripple effect of individual actions, we understand who depends on who. Accountability grows from understanding the impact of your actions through these connections.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” as John C. Maxwell says.
Leadership also begins with an awareness, not just of your strengths and weaknesses, but of your situation and the role you play within the organization.
This applies to professionals of every level. Start with defining a compelling common goal so everyone has a desire to participate in its overall success. Then work out efficient ways to improve communication across the workplace.
Does your association or company have an organizational chart?
Such a simple tool can facilitate defined communication of who’s going to give what to who by when. Silos occur because of a lack of clarity in terms of expectations.
If you set up those expectations, with an organizational chart that shows who everyone is responsible to, those relationships provide clarity and keep communication flowing.
Not all activities are teamwork activities. You can do certain things without organizational input or collaboration.
Maybe breaking down silos is not the goal…
Maybe instead you should be connecting people to form a stronger network.
Give people time and opportunity to form those connections and share ideas and learn each other’s personalities and needs. There’s no collaborative conversation without that foundation of relationship that precedes it. Create opportunities for collisions and knowledge flow. For example, have assigned seats in meetings!
People need to get to know each other but unless encouraged otherwise, they will stay in their silo. Make specific changes to open the door to collaboration.
That may involve something like one of the Atlanta Team Building events I facilitate.
Managers reading this might think: “I’ve got enough on my plate and so do my team. Where will I find the time and resources to allow all this? What will it cost me to build connections?”
That’s a legitimate concern, but a recent study shows that organizations lose millions of dollars a year to poor communication.
Think about the long-term benefits of team building.
Instead of breaking down silos, you want to connect them!