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July 9, 2014

A recent article in our Connect magazine talked about the negative effect that “Silos” can have on a business.  Patrick Lencioni President of The Table Group summed it up well. “Silos are nothing more than the barriers that exist between departments within an organization, causing people who are supposed to be on the same team to work against one another.” It happens everywhere and can really be detrimental to the organization. With that in mind, here are 3 ways to break down those walls.

Communicate. In his book, “Silos, Politics and Turf Wars,” Patrick Lencioni writes that as employees notice their colleagues in other divisions repeatedly moving in different directions, they begin to wonder why they aren’t on board. Over time, their confusion turns into disappointment, which eventually becomes resentment – even hostility – toward their supposed teammates. And then the worst thing possible happens – they actually start working against those colleagues on purpose. Amy Hiett, GM for The Table Group, says silos can be eliminated when executives develop a “thematic goal” or “rallying cry,” and use that as a guide in their regular meetings.

Align. Everyone must understand their role in making the organization succeed and what other people are doing to make the organization succeed. “You need to know in your silo what other departments and teams are doing and how they support you and how you can support them,” says Karyn Greenstreet, president of The Success Alliance, and a small business coach and Mastermind Group Expert. “I visited a company and asked a department what they did when they finished their portion of the project, and they basically said, ‘throw it over the cubicle to the other team.’ There was no hand off or sharing of what they learned. They simply said, ‘We’ve done our job and here is yours.’”

Use cross-functionalteams to brainstorm together. Having another set of eyes and ears on your project, especially from outside your team, helps you see the bigger picture and makes sure you’re not mono-focused on your own work, Greenstreet says. It also gives you a new perspective on possible solutions to challenges that come up because people outside your team don’t have the mantra of “that’s always the way we’ve done it.”

If you’d like to see the entire article, our Connect Magazine is online here

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