The need to break the silo mentality is critical to the success of any organization. If there are no measures undertaken, employee morale and engagement can dip. When that happens, internal communication suffers. As you might surmise, it hinders the implementation of strategic planning, thus hindering its growth.
For efficient and effective internal communications, companies ought to have:
- Timely responses that contain adequate and correct information
- Accurate delivery method – email, messaging, face-to-face, or call.
- Match words with actions
- Be approachable to encourage dialogs or discussions
- Include employees in the decision-making process
- Recognize achievements
- Have a visible leadership team
- A culture of two-way communication
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Eliminating Communication Silos in Your Company
One of the causes of communication silos is the lack of appreciation of the interdependencies of different roles. One contributing factor is the physical and emotional distance between departments.
To work more efficiently across silos, the three keys are:
1. Team Collaboration Must Have a Unified Vision
A common cause of silo mentality is the self-serving focus of department heads. It happens when division managers set goals that benefit their departments. But while doing so, they fail to see the implications on other departments. Such disregard or negligence results in silos forming and hinders sharing across departments.
Your department managers must understand the importance of free-flow information. Furthermore, they need to buy into your vision and goals. This way, they could focus on a unified vision while meeting their individual goals. So, instead of prioritizing silo objectives, they could adjust them to support the company vision.
Most especially when your company grows, you would need to hire more people. It would be best to ensure that your managers are competent and possess leadership skills. After all, they should also help promote a thriving and productive team. And they can do that by empowering employees and encouraging trust. A conflicted leadership team, on the other hand, can hasten silos.
2. Use Collaboration Tools to Work Towards Common Objectives
One of the fundamental problems of silo mentality is that individuals tend to consider only their perspective. In other words, they neglect or ignore the different departments as long as they accomplish their tasks.
So, how do you stop this mentality from occurring?
Silo mentality can develop when employees think of only their department. The choices they make, in some ways, are to protect themselves. So, the best solution is to ensure that they are working towards a common objective.
When employees across departments have the same objectives, they communicate better. You and your department managers must not only make these goals clear. There must also be frequent reminders to immerse them into the company culture.
As the number of people in your organization grows, you need collaboration tools. The most commonly used tools are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. This type of software lets the users see data such as progress towards defined goals. More importantly, it allows the employees to collaborate easily and communicate.
Such a tool increases efficiency by reducing incidents such as lack of updates. One employee, for instance, may fail to update relevant parties on matters concerning products or customers. While there is communication, it is not enough.
Another advantage of using CRM is consolidating customer information. Imagine if your marketing team and sales team have varying information on the same customer segment. Aligning the marketing campaigns and sales strategies would be next to impossible.
The technology and tools are here to help you manage and grow your business. Given the opportunity, you should embrace and use them to your advantage.
3. Continuous Education and Train Together
The importance of providing regular training is to enhance employees’ skill levels. Besides skills, some companies also offer leadership and motivational seminars. You can tweak these activities a little to break the silo mentality.
One way to do that is to have employees from different departments come together. In this way, they are not only working but also training together. During these activities, you should also implement silo-breaking practices.
Apart from collaborative training, you can also hold regular town hall meetings. Silo mentality is a topic that you could discuss. Your employees must understand what it is and why it is terrible for the company. In these sessions, too, you can discuss measures to enhance cooperation, collaboration, and communication across departments.
A popular activity that many companies undertake is conducting team-building exercises. If this is an approach that you would also like to take, then avoid limiting it to individual departments. Cross-departmental exercises are a better option that would promote better interpersonal relationships.
4. Encourage Frequent Communications
Silos happen not only because of people but also the organizational structure. Every division in a company has a role to play. Hence, your goal is not to eliminate silos but manage them in such a way that encourages better communication.
For small companies, the silos may not be apparent. But that is not the case for larger organizations. A large company, for instance, may have physical locations in different states or countries.
Now, one measure you could take in this case is to create a customer experience council. It should comprise cross-functional team members to review all customer journey touchpoints. Their goal is to develop improvements, turning any customer difficulty into a positive experience.
As a result of having a customer experience council, a company will see improvements in several key areas. Maersk, for example, has such a council that provides three-day training on customer experience. The participants include managers of different divisions within a region. During these monthly meetings, they discuss and decide on key initiatives to undertake. Because of this activity, the company saw a 40% increase in its net promoter score, which signifies the loyalty level of customer relationships.
But small organizations can also benefit from having a customer experience council. You can gather the employees from the different departments together, such as marketing, sales, operations, finance, etc. Once they are familiar with each other and communicate better, they can better plan and do their jobs for the common goals. Consequently, they can better serve customers, which raises your brand equity and revenue.
5. Provide Incentives
Individual motivations vary. Granted that money and financial security are the primary concern, their importance varies. In other words, they are motivators but not the only ones. At any rate, you can still use it as motivation.
How do you align compensation with getting all employees to achieve a shared vision?
Review your compensation plans and determine if they support siloed goals. If so, getting everyone on the same wavelength will be a difficult task.
Compensation plans should reflect the common goals that the entire organization is trying to achieve. Moreover, it should encourage every employee to focus on those shared objectives. If you could employ such a strategy, the employees would be more likely to communicate and work better. That is because they know they would get something out of working together as one organization, not a division.
Are You Ready to Break Departmental Silos?
Communication is the key to better efficiency within any organization. As an entrepreneur, it is not when you are ready. It is something that you need to account for early on. For example, you encourage teamwork across departments when developing employee compensation plans.
Measuring performance or productivity was once shunned by labor unions. But it is now a common practice because of the benefits it brought. Many large corporations reward employees if they meet specific criteria. Usually, this would include achieving common goals.
Your business will run efficiently with better internal communications, cooperation, and collaborations. Also equally important is that such measures can expose pain points. Safety hazards are one example. In response to that, more companies today allow workers to stop production if there are dangers.
The bottom line is this. Try to understand the challenges faced by organizational silos in your company. By doing that, you can create common goals for the entire company. With this, you have an efficient and healthy working environment.