How Organizations Can Combat the Silo Mentality

Similar in nature to silos on a farm that are used to separate and store different types of grain, information silos form within organizations. These silos can manifest in different ways. Most commonly, they form within departments, but they can also be team or even individual based. They can also be geographic, as might happen with multiple regional offices, or develop among back office vs. operational units.

It’s not a question of if silos will develop within your organization; it’s a question of when. They are an inevitable result of humans working together, and aren’t necessarily problematic unless they spawn a protective, bunker mentality that doesn’t serve the organization’s best interests.

What Are the Causes of a Silo Mentality

It’s natural for organizational silos to crop up, and they also provide potential benefits. They can promote bonding and collaboration within a functional group, which can foster creativity and innovation. This, in turn, can lead to greater employee engagement and productivity.

The silo construct can go awry, however, when the members of a particular silo become insular and isolated from the rest of the organization, jealously guarding their information, knowledge and resources. This can happen for a myriad of reasons. For example employees may lose sight or simply be unaware of the organization’s big picture goals. Or, they might be distrustful of others outside their silo. This defensive attitude has many harmful side effects. These include:

  • A critical lack of communication between operational units resulting in misaligned priorities.
  • Organizational inefficiency related to redundant efforts.
  • An organization-wide atmosphere of mistrust which harms employee engagement and morale, ultimately resulting in higher employee turnover rates.
  • Stifled cross-departmental collaboration, resulting in ‘turf wars’,  wasted time and resources, and diminished innovation.
  • A lack of accountability, responsibility, and ownership.
  • Compromised customer relations, potentially resulting in a loss of business.
  • Diminished agility and ability to pivot as needed in a competitive market.

If a damaging silo mentality is allowed to proliferate across your organization, ultimately, it will harm harm your company’s brand, reputation, and bottom line.

What Can Company Leaders do to Prevent a Silo Mentality

Company leadership can take steps to prevent a silo mentality from developing. Here are some recommendations:

  • Company leaders must clearly communicate the company’s mission and provide a strong sense of direction that filters down to every last employee. They must continually promote a big picture perspective.
  • Transparency, along with regular, cross-company communication is key to combating  silo mentality. This can be facilitated using project management and team collaboration tools.
  • Leaders must foster a culture of cross-departmental collaboration while actively discouraging tunnel vision and insularity within departments.
  • Management should encourage and facilitate internal mobility and provide plenty of career advancement opportunities.

While organizational silos can develop within small companies, they’re more likely to occur in larger organizations. As your company grows, it’s important to encourage a culture of collaboration and cooperation to support the organization’s goals. This has to be an ongoing effort to ensure maximum productivity leading to maximum profitability.

Contact LINK today to learn about some ways we can help you combat the silo mentality within your organization.