fbpx

The Role of Leadership in Breaking Down a Silo in Business

Creating a healthy workplace environment is a challenging task. Especially when it comes to breaking down a silo in business and what your leaders have to commit to to get this done.

Leadership figures can actively create a positive atmosphere for everyone involved in their company, not only for the sake of employees but also for the success of their business. 

When silos form in a business environment, it can impact productivity and how well your team works together. A silo in business can hinder collaborative efforts, put a strain on communication, and ultimately affect business efficiency. 

It falls on the shoulders of the leaders to implement strategies that help avoid these silos and divisions within your business. The better your teams work together interdepartmentally, the more likely you’ll be successful and meet your goals.

Let’s dive into how leadership can dismantle silos in the workplace.

What is a silo in business?

In basic terms, a silo in business refers to a type of separation of resources or information. It can happen individually, where someone refrains from sharing information with a specific person or people. It commonly occurs on a team level, typically called an organizational silo. This silo involves the separation of resources between teams or departments. 

Silo mentality usually begins at the top of the chain, with team managers or supervisors who are unwilling to share resources with other teams. Usually, there is some interdepartmental competition or hesitation in working with another team. This attitude is passed down to employees, further contributing to the disconnect between departments. 

However, people aren’t the only ones who induce siloing. Working with technology that isn’t able to integrate across the business also introduces roadblocks to collaboration.  

Why should leaders be worried about siloing?

Organizational silos almost always have a negative influence on business. When entire departments exclude others and technology restricts access to information, this creates a domino effect on the rest of the company. 

A lack of shared information can:

  • Hinder productivity by causing organizational ineffectiveness, which keeps workers from the information they need to do a good, efficient job
  • Perceived competition can lead to morale-busting friction between team members
  • Blow up even the best financial management strategies by creating unplanned rework, blocking departments from contributing to company goals, and causing the above-mentioned lost productivity and efficiency. 

To prevent expensive silos from forming, leaders need to encourage communication and a collaborative work culture. 

Here’s how to get started.

5 Strategies that help remove silos from the workplace

The best way to prevent silo in business from interrupting your productivity and success is to get ahead of it. Creating actionable systems and strategies that promote inclusion across every department is important. Instead of a silo mentality, focus on building a teamwork mentality. 

When a ‘teamwork mentality’ is fully ingrained in your organization, a collaborative mindset is the norm, communication is open, honest, and transparent, there’s mutual respect and trust throughout your organization, and people are all pulling in the same direction toward a shared set of goals and organizational vision.

Let’s look at a handful of achievable strategies leaders can use to nurture a collaborative environment. 

1. Create a culture of open communication

First and foremost, open communication is the backbone of every successful business. Without an open line of communication, you risk falling short of goals, a decrease in productivity, and even a drop in employee engagement. When communication isn’t open and honest, it’s difficult to achieve alignment toward a common goal and the strategy that everyone needs to follow to reach the goal at hand.

These and other consequences of a lack of communication can negatively affect the success of your business.

An open communication means sharing resources, information, and data among departments. It also helps build trust between team members. Again, the silo mentality feeds off the tendency to separate from others in the company. Leaders can set the bar by championing trust and transparency across departments for healthier partnerships.  

2. Boost collaboration through transparency

Business success relies on teams working well together. Collaboration, in particular, is at the root of cross-functional teamwork — another silo-busting strategy we’ll explore soon.

For example, in the development world, team leaders measure developer velocity, which indicates how much of one type of work an individual or team can complete in a certain amount of time. 

Why do you need to know that? 

Because it’s something leaders in all verticals can also measure to create visibility into everyday tasks and gain an understanding of what impacts productivity and efficiency. This level of awareness and visibility gives them the information they need to build collaborative strategies with other departments. 

With velocity management or similar tactics in place, tasks, goals, progress, time estimates, and needs are transparent for everyone to see. Velocity management refers to organizations’ strategic approach and practices for streamlining their operations, enhancing efficiency, and improving the speed of their processes and service delivery.

Once teams can easily see their responsibilities and work together to strategize ways to accomplish those tasks, progress is much easier to make. Departments are also more inclined to work together when there’s a better understanding of how resources will be used and by whom. 

3. Set unified, data-backed goals 

To get everyone on the same page, you should determine, clearly define, and regularly review overarching business goals. Yes, individual departments can focus on specific goals that pertain to their team, but it’s also crucial for everyone to see the bigger picture and understand how their work relates to it. This understanding is what breaks people out of the silo mindset and inspires open communication. 

Bonus points if you can incorporate what you’ve learned about each team’s typical output to outline realistic, quantifiable goals that move your team toward success.

4. Build highly cross-functional teams

The beauty of working cross-functionally with various teams is the pool of talent and skill that comes together.

Although teams may work proficiently on an individual level, bringing together multiple teams enhances the quality of real-time collaboration. It leads to an improvement in problem-solving and creativity. Plus, more hands on deck allows teams to finish a project faster and more efficiently. 

Managing cross-functional teams requires a clear understanding of goals and objectives. As leaders, you want to encourage collaboration and offer your support if needed. Keep these tips in mind when working cross-functionally

  • Set clear goals: Establishing goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) helps steer teams in the right direction. It keeps everyone on track with measurable milestones to indicate their progress. These goals can include deadlines, projected statistics, and targeted benchmarks throughout the process.

     

  • Roles and responsibilities: Before the project begins, decide on specific roles and responsibilities for each team member. This delineation of responsibilities prevents repetitive work and helps team members remain accountable.

     

  • Trust and collaboration: Remind teams that collaboration is key. Trusting one another will ultimately lead to success. Without trust, work is hard to complete and meet the set goals. Although trust develops over time, use this opportunity to build on that trust across departments that will carry into future projects.

     

  • Communicate effectively: Communication channels should remain open between teams and those in leadership roles. Provide a safe environment for asking questions, sharing ideas, and offering updates as the project progresses.

     

  • Continual support and feedback: When employees believe their voices go unheard by management and leadership, their motivation drops. Teams who feel their feedback and opinions matter are more motivated and inspired to do their best work. Leadership teams can also create programs and training for team members to grow and improve their skills. 

5. Track it all using a single place

Utilizing purpose-built project or product management tools to develop a single source of information can also greatly impact your success in de-siloing your organization.

Look for a platform that can consolidate projects, automate tasks, and allow access to all team members involved.

How will you demolish silo in business?

Leaders are in a unique position to make an impact on the culture of their organization. The division between departments is significantly minimized through the guidance and support of those in leadership when they prioritize data-busting actions. 

Cross-functional collaboration is at the heart of many successful businesses. You can achieve this by maintaining open communication and utilizing tooling and data to help facilitate access to resources shared among teams.

With the right strategies, companies can overcome the silo mentality and work toward goals successfully — and happily. 

Katy Flatt works as a freelance marketing consultant for Stampli and other agencies, streamlining workflows and coordinating personnel while doing a little writing on the side. When she isn’t digitally organizing, she can be found cuddling with her rescue and foster dogs.