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Removing Silos in Organisations

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It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst executives removing silo management systems can improve overall efficiency. Now, industry leaders are focusing on structures that allow both functions and people to collaborate to produce successful results.

 Problems can soon arise if your company is operating with a slio mentality. This is especially true for companies with executives that prefer to take on smaller projects, rather than investing in programs that encompass multiple parts of the organisation. 

According to Neil Smith in How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things, “Silos need to work together. But too often that doesn’t happen. Problems arise when departments do not share the same priorities, knowledge, or information.” 

Organisations that are looking to address the needs of their customers quicker, as well as build solutions that have a lasting impact, need to strongly focus on collaboration. Innovation programmes and digital transformations also demand agile skillsets, functionality and business collaboration, and are far more successful if they function outside of the silo structure. Furthermore, organisations that promote collaboration, and invest more time into it, have higher employee retention and employee satisfaction.  

However, how do we, as leaders, go about removing silo management systems within the workplace? Moreover, how would we know if our new structure is working after implementation? In this article, we’ll take a look at the barriers that companies face in fostering collaboration between people and functions.

1.      Managers That Are Facilitators 
Managers acting as facilitators can work across multiple departments within a company, acting as a bridge between functions. As facilitators, these managers can understand the business as a whole and will have the required skills to see the ‘bigger picture’. 
This approach allows facilitators to break down the business, and identify the needs of each function within a collaboration, before communicating these requirements to those involved. 

It is a facilitator’s responsibility to bring together people who share mutual goals in order to strengthen relationships between groups. They help functions within an organisation to understand other’s languages, culture, goals, and drives, while also focusing on how these factors can be utilised and improved in the future. For example, can any processes be atomised to save resources and strengthen communication? 

You don’t need a large number of facilitators – just a few managers will be enough to get initiatives off the ground. However, it is essential that the few facilitators that you employ are focused on growth and can inspire others within your organisation to adopt this mindset, too. 

2.   Cross-Functional Activities 
According to a recent survey conducted by salesforce, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as one of the leading causes of workplace failures. 
Consequently, setting up cross-functional initiatives and teams should be a top priority and responsibility for leaders within a business. 

Not only will building cross-functional activities allow for employees to understand other peoples’ perspectives, but it will also provide an opportunity for them to learn from each other. This offers a cost-effective solution for upskilling your staff and saving vital resources. Additionally, cross-functional activities will also allow for teams to ask for help and solve challenges for each other. 

Overall, these benefits will boost productivity and will help to develop an appreciation for the role other functions play within the business. Also, if employees develop an interest in different job roles, a company that focuses on cross-functional activities can retain staff through internal transfers. 
Occasionally, cross-functional teams can also be assembled in times of crisis, allowing leaders to develop collaboration. These teams are more efficient in their decision making and can produce better results during times of need.

3.   The Bigger Picture 
Actively communicating how the business works in its entirety helps employees to fully understand the role that they play within the organisation. A good vision, with carefully developed strategies, will create a conversation between functions, encouraging feedback and strengthening relationships. 
Creating a clear vision also helps employees to understand that they are not on their own. Every employee should be valued and play a part in the overall success of the business. 

According to Andre Lavoie, “Framing the company vision in this manner will make it an integral part of the day-to-day experience. Everyone from the employees to the CEO should be feeding into the system to push the company toward its goal”. 
In the absence of a clear vision, the business will be a composition of individual functional views, promoting the silo mentality. 

4.   Leading by example  
“Leading by example: say it, do it, live it!” – Rick Conlow. 
As a leader, you must consider and question the engagement of functions when reviewing projects. Only then will you be able to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation. Doing this can help to highlight what changes need to be made to improve the overall outcome of your next project. 

In conjunction with this, it is a leader’s responsibility to support cross-functional activities, freeing up resources and talent. This will help to reinforce the importance of collaboration and will allow your employees to find new and innovative ways of working. 

Leading by example also includes setting goals which require teams to collaborate, as well as actively communicating the importance of collaboration with the rest of the organisation on all levels. Establishing stronger and more effective ways of communicating can help to keep the conversation going as you work towards the overall vision of the organisation. 

Collaboration doesn’t require sophisticated platforms and apps. It doesn’t even require experts and PhDs. It only needs leaders who can create an environment that encourages and supports the many benefits of collaboration. 

By sharing priorities, knowledge and information, you are helping to inform and develop the people around you, which will ultimately lead to a brighter and more prolific future for your organisation. 

Are you fully utilising the benefits of communication within your business? 

Shivendra is a highly regarded inspirational leader, well known for his collaborative work with businesses. With over 12 years of leadership experience working for reputable organisations such as Siemens and the Downer Group, Shivendra is equipped with best-in-class practices that will transform your business and deliver high impact outcomes. For more information, visit