Silos exist in all organisations – they have their benefits, in terms of functional groups of expertise that enable a business to operate – however they can also block communication, prevent collaboration and isolate people and teams from one another.
As a leader, what can you do to overcome the negatives?
This is all about encouraging an environment where employees have the information, experience, and skills necessary to accomplish everyday tasks, while also looking forward to future opportunities. As a leader you can help construct this environment by creating a culture that rewards people who stay connected with one another and reach out for knowledge or expertise.
Sharing your organisational strategy across the business, in a way that everyone understands, means each individual has the right knowledge to enable them to make the right decisions. Knowing where the organisation is heading, gives employees purpose and direction which encourages changes in behaviour (like above) to help get there.
If people within your business are afraid of making decisions without approval, they certainly are not going to involve other teams or business units to help make things happen. Again, as a leader, you need to be recognising and rewarding (broadly) people who power ahead.
Identify and drive key projects within the business that necessitate cross silo collaboration. Even as managers, we tend to play it safe and create projects within our team/unit, due to a belief that its easier or will more likely come to fruition. But the greatest value is achieved through collaboration so that’s where your focus needs to be as a leader.
This is more than simply understanding the functional accountabilities of different teams but rather interacting with people who think differently. Having diverse thinkers in cross-functional teams achieves so much more in terms of decision making and innovation. Creating an environment that encourages this is a senior leadership responsibility - provide the motivation for teams to interact or hire people that demonstrate traits around curiosity and empathy.
Removing the barriers of silo thinking does not require a complete rethink of your organisational structure – value can be delivered simply by encouraging activity that enables boundary crossing. What you are encouraging your people to do is learn more about others, it means they will relate better and that opens up all sorts of potential within your business.
Decipher Group provides professional development guidance to senior leaders to effectively engage and inspire their team and contribute towards a constructive workplace culture. Call us today.
The Decipher Team
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