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Houston, we have a problem: we are a “silos” company

Today I would like to introduce to a topic which have personally experimented in more than one of my former employers…. but I see is not rare to find nowadays when I discuss with people. Silo is a business term that has been passed around and discussed at many board room tables over the last 30 years. Unlike many other trendy management terms this is one issue that has not disappeared over the years. Silo mentality is a mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce efficiency in the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.

Some of you can state that there are some critical/confidential information that should not be shared, sometimes is true, but more often the silo mindset does not appear accidentally!!! More often than not silos are the result of a conflicted leadership team.

Silos often separate higher-level employers from front-line workers, such as salespeople or production workers. Silos can be geographical, as in the case of workers in different offices squaring off against each other and the home office.

But, how does Silos form? Silos form when employees develop more loyalty to a group than to the employer. As silos solidify, members become more insular and distrustful of other employees or departments. Once trust disappears, it becomes increasingly difficult for groups to work together. Trust makes teamwork possible, and teamwork fuels the ability to keep pace with competitors.

And here the worse part: effects: organizational silos usually are resistant to change, operating to prevent easy access to the information they hold and throwing up barriers to change and cooperation. Silos make it difficult for communication and collaboration to occur across units. Each group works to protect its own interests. One unit might not tell another unit that customers are complaining about packaging, preventing the company from responding effectively to customer concerns. Groups might neglect to share information with owners and managers. Some silos use different forms and processes for the same business function or prepare similar reports without sharing or combining data. Rosen points out in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek article that organizational silos cause redundancy and poor decision-making. Silos also stifle creativity and innovation.

Now the good news: there is cure, there is a solution:  the challenge with organizational silos is getting people to stop “protecting what is” and begin to embrace “what could be”. Increased communication from management and among employers will increase trust and begin to solve the problems, there are at least 5 ways to fight the ‘silos’

1)    Motivate and Incentivize people, let feel each team member as a part of something bigger

2)     Work towards achieving a common goal

3)    Promote Collaboration and creativeness

4)    Measure level of achievement and prevent losing-engagement

5)    Create a unified Company’s vision.

I will not get in deep in any of the previous “weapons: to fight silos mentality, as each company might have own strategy, but I can guarantee that should take in account as one of (not only one) cause when we might lose valuable colleagues in our organization. Preventing always better than cure later on.

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