Silos Block Collaboration – Disrupt Them!

By Linda DeLuca, Executive Coach

Does your organization suffer from the impacts of working in silos? You know, the barriers that develop between the functional departments of an organization? Silos cause poor communication, conflicting direction, redundancy, and less than optimal decision making. Though barriers can develop in the systems and processes we create, it’s the individual who breaks them down. Fearless leadership is everyone’s job. It’s your job.

The Individual Disrupts Silos

It’s your responsibility. That’s right. Each individual in the organization who does nothing to break down the silos is contributing to and reinforcing their existence. So,  I don’t want to hear you whine and complain about the silos, if you are not willing to do something about them. 

It's up to you to help break down any silos in your organization. If not, you're contributing to their existence!Click To Tweet

Here’s Why It’s Up to You

  1. Change in organizations happens one person at a time.
  2. You can only change your own behavior.
  3. Your attitudes and emotions are contagious.
  4. Your happiness at work is your responsibility.

Here’s How to Take Action

mentorLearn how you fit. Learn and understand how your piece of work fits into the business as a whole. For example, if you produce a report each month that is distributed to others, go to the recipients and find out how they use that information. What is its value to them? What happens if there are errors or if the report is late? Would they benefit from receiving any other information? All it takes is a phone call and good listening skills.

Be open to feedback. As you investigate what happens before and after your step in the process, you will likely receive feedback. Listen carefully. Then, discuss the ideas and work with those individuals to identify possible improvements.

Volunteer for a cross-functional team. Nothing helps to widen your perspective of the organization, than working on a cross-functional team. Through the processes of the project, you will be made aware of barriers, redundancies, and systems that do not support a collaborative work environment. No cross-functional teams in your organization? Consider launching one with the purpose of mapping the organization’s processes from end to end.

Engage a mentor in a different function. In addition to building relationships on teams and with individuals up and down stream from you in the processes, build a relationship with an experienced professional. This is a great way to positively influence the culture. In a mentor relationship, both individuals gain a new perspective. Furthermore, selecting a mentor with influence increases your chances of influencing the culture at all levels of the organization.

The Opposite of Silos is Collaboration

Change in organizations starts with one fearless individual. Silos are broken down one act at a time. Take responsibility for the silos in your organization. Look up from your desk. Truly understand what happens in the business process, both before and after your step. Infect others with your curiosity and enthusiasm for understanding the business from end to end.

The opposite of working in silos is collaboration . . . and it is a powerful tool for fearless organizations!