Almenta International was an exhibitor at a recent event.   As different people visited our table and discovered the services we provide, one question was persistently asked.  The question was: How can we overcome silos in our organization? This question has become relatively trendy as most organizations we work with have stated how the silos mentality is becoming a real problem.   As one way of addressing this concern, this article will provide some nuggets on you can overcome the silo challenge.

Collaboration has become a way doing and working for most organizations. Organizations that want to stay competitive and want to accelerate their growth, have to rethink how they transform their business models to be more collaborative.  This means all departments and different parts of the organization and their unique processes, systems, and products have to think and act collaboratively.

The fact of the matter is that organizations or operations are structured as departments such as Finance, Marketing, IT, HR, etc.   There is nothing irresponsible with this structure, as silos can exist to harness knowledge-based skills, or specific job functions, or they can be geographic.

The challenge arises when the different departments fail or are unwilling to work collectively to accomplish a shared mission. In generally, most organizations are inclined to focusing on their individual missions and don’t give much consideration to other departments when making decisions or implementing change.  Thus, leaders may be ineffective to reaching a consensus and as such conflict of interest becomes inevitable.  For example, a financial system could be implemented that enhances the functionality and performance of the finance department, but the same diminishes the value of the marketing department and its services.   In another scenario, decisions could be made in one part of the organization without the awareness of the entire organization.   In our experience, we have observed the extent the silo mentality has, unfortunately, divided organizations and impacted the culture.

According to Martin Saberton, the silo mentality is a way of thinking that occurs when the management departmental managers don’t share information, goals, tools, priorities or processes with each other.  This mentality impacts business negatively, reduces employee engagement, and the organization’s overall performance.  So how can you overcome this in your organization?

There are several ways that can be implemented to help you overcome silos.  Today, we will address 4 strategies.  By overcoming this mentality, organizations can build and empower cross functional teams, and harness the right mix of knowledge and skills wanted to convey sustainable change.

  1. Communicate Shared Vision

Though departments have their own goals and objectives, it is important that the organization’s unified vision be shared and communicated on an on-going basis.  Different communication platforms should be used to convey the message.  Communication should elaborate how different departments are essential parts of the whole.  Emphasis should be places that the organization will achieve bigger and better when all parts work as a team and not independently.  Roles and responsibilities should be articulated – but the emphasis should be placed at the importance of these to work harmoniously together.

  1. Establish Effective Communication

An organization should have a strong communication culture.  Changes and decisions being made should be communicated across the organization, top-down and across functions.  Openness and transparency become paramount. The changes and decisions being made in pone part of the organization should be measured and weighed on how they will impact other departments before they are implemented. Adopt different communication mediums that allow information to be fluid in the organization.

  1. Provide Experiential Training

Provide team members training and resources that can help them change behavior and shift from the silo mentality to a more collaborative mentality.   Trainings such as Emotional Intelligence, Conflict Management, Building Trust, Teamwork and Communication Skills are great interventions that help overcome silos and encourage cooperation.   These trainings should not simply be trainings – they should be the kind that help change mindsets and behavior.

  1. Start with Leadership

Overcoming the silo mentality should begin with leadership and management.  They need to model collaboration and team work from the top down.  The scramble for resources, the focus on departmental success should come to an end. Instead leaders should be able to communicate shared goals between teams, encourage interdepartmental or cross training, promote different departments to work on common projects, support each other’s strategies and more.

Breaking down silos is at the center of organizations that are customer centric or those that are disruptors and realize that for them to move to the next level they need the collaboration and effective teamwork.

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