As corporate culture consultants, we see a lot of organizations with talented people who are operating in silos. Many times these silos develop over time for various reasons. It may be territorial actions to protect turf, a result of people being hyper-focused on what they need to accomplish, or a lack of executive focus on creating a big picture that everyone embraces and sees themselves in. Whatever the reason, these silos become major barriers and impact how effective the organization and its teams can become. Leaders must be able to recognize them and give significant attention to how to address them.
Here are four major reasons to tear down silos.
Silos can lead to:
- Slowing down work
- Keeping important knowledge from being transferred
- Inhibiting innovation because ideas are not openly shared
- Making people feel disconnected from each other and the mission
Silos are usually a signal of a culture that is not aligned with the strategy of the organization. Thankfully, more leaders recognize that the culture of an organization is the driver of the strategy and when the two are not connected it has a direct effect on engagement and productivity. In the complex nature of today’s business environment collaboration can be critical to performance. Collaboration allows people to have a common goal and work together to achieve it in a more efficient manner. A Work.com study found that 97 percent of employees and executives agreed that the level of collaboration directly impacts the outcome of a task or project.
Four ways for leaders to improve collaboration and performance
- Clarify the goals and purpose of the organization. Create a clear vision of who you are and where you want to be in the future as an organization. The most important communication will include clear guidelines about values and expected norms of behavior and how they connect to the mission and goals of the organization.
- Recognize and reward collaborative behavior. Culture is about messages and the biggest message you send is through what you reward and recognize. Incorporate collaboration into your recognition programs to reinforce desired behaviors.
- Build in time for innovation around a goal, encourage people to question “why? Employees are the best source of new ideas. They need a safe environment to bring ideas forward and feel they will be considered.
- Plan events and cross training/education that allow team members feel connected to each other. Positive interpersonal relationship improve communication, conflict resolution and impact employee happiness which can improve engagement.
Some of the behaviors that align with collaboration are being open to ideas, respecting the priorities and time of others, taking responsibility for your actions and being responsive to requests.
Imagine if most teams and organizations made collaboration a value that they reinforced and incorporated into their culture.