by Natalie Abraham

As anyone working in a large organisation knows, there is a tendency – particularly when the pressure is on – for teams to start focusing inwards and becoming singular in their outlook. Teams working in silos, rather than with awareness of the wider business run the risk of a lack of understanding of the wider business needs, focusing solely on the short-term requirements of the immediate team.

Why do silos form?

There are many reasons why teams may end up working in silos, from poor culture and management styles to power battles and lack of collaboration.

Why do silos cause a problem?

It is important that teams do not become too insular, as this can lead to a:

  • Decrease of productivity – with individual teams only concerned with their own outputs and not taking the wider business goals into consideration
  • Drop in morale – as trust between different elements of the business is eroded through reduced communication. This will ultimately lead to decreased motivation, where team members feel incapable of changing the culture
  • Lack of innovation – new ideas needs to be explored and different perspectives gathered to find innovative solutions, which can’t be done if teams don’t collaborate
  • Resourcing issues – where silos exist, there is a danger of duplication of effort or resources being stretched or even under-utilised, through a lack of awareness of other teams
  • Poor customer service – where teams work in silos there is a risk of inconsistent levels of customer service.
How can you break down silos?

Recognising that your teams are not functioning and performing as efficiently as they should is an important first step. Once you have identified that they are working in silos, there are many ways you can start to address this.

Common purpose – companies that have a clearly defined vision, mission and shared values are less likely to find themselves working in silos. The teams within these businesses are united by a common goal, so are more likely to work together to achieve it.

Communications – good communication is key to ensuring this happens, as even with a ‘living’ vision, mission and values, unless they are clearly and widely communicated, division can still easily arise. Regular, consistent communication ensures that the key messages are shared and understood.

Leadership buy-in – it is also important that the leaders understand the company’s objectives and are aligned in how these will be achieved. That way, as they will in many cases be responsible for distributing the message

Cross-team development – another way of preventing silos developing comes from investing in your team. This will hep motivate team members to work closer together and share best practice across the company.

Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, but at C.Co, we have extensive experience of working with companies and their teams to identify the issues and help them to break down the barriers that have developed. Contact us today to see we can help.