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Breaking down silos in your workplace

When we think of a silo the majority of us will picture that large metal structure, with very few access points, that is traditionally used in agriculture.

This image is the perfect metaphor when we come to describe silos within a business.

Silos occur when a business’ departments operate on a very insular basis, failing to communicate with other areas of the organisation. This means that goals, priorities, processes and important data are not shared with the wider business.

Just some of the consequences you should expect from a business silo include reduced productivity, lack of creativity and a poor company culture. This issue can have far-reaching effects on the long-term success of a company, but is something that many don’t even realise until it has had a deep-rooted impact on the overall running of the organisation.

Knowing how to spot a business silo is vital to the longevity of a business. So how can you identify a silo, and what steps can be taken to tackle them?

Spotting silos

Poor customer experience

For the majority of businesses, providing an effective customer experience is key to retention and referrals. Siloed businesses will often deliver a poor experience through disjointed methods of communication. For example, contacting an existing client with marketing material meant for prospective clients.

Work has been duplicated

The risk of duplicating work is high when it comes to silos. Poor communication can mean that one department is completely unaware of what’s going on in another department. Not only does this waste a significant amount of time and resources for a company, but it can lead to frustration amongst teams which will impact motivation.

Your teams don’t know one another

Whilst it may be difficult to know everybody in larger organisations, employees in small to medium businesses should know one another on at least a first name basis. This familiarity is essential to creating trust and a great company culture, effectively eliminating the risk of silos occurring.

Tackling silos

Collaboration is key

Teams should not only be familiar with their own responsibilities, but those of other departments also. This way, should one team require data, documents or support in a particular area, they will know who to go to. Furthermore, encouraging collaborative working between teams will ensure that the business is working efficiently, creatively and maximising on the collective knowledge of the workforce.

Utilise technology

Difficulties in accessing vital information between departments may not always be down to the team members themselves, but from limitations in the software being used. This is of particular importance to businesses with multiple branches or remote working policies. Luckily, collaborative working is becoming much easier. Cloud software such as Microsoft 365 allows access for all team members to contribute to and share documents remotely, allowing for multiple people to work on the same project simultaneously, wherever they’re working.

Company-wide social events

Companies that operate on an all work and no play basis tend to be the ones that suffer from silos the most. Businesses like these don’t allow for their people to step away and get to know one another outside of the working environment. Social events, be it team building days, Christmas parties, or even regular cross-department lunches, will ultimately build upon these crucial working relationships, making employees more inclined to work collaboratively.

Identifying and tackling silos within a business is no mean feat, but when eliminated effectively, businesses can see astronomical results. One of the main takeaways here is that social events, meetings and training is essential to breaking the silo mentality and getting your people to work together as a team.

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