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Jul 21'

Is your Organization Working in Silos? Here’s 4 tips to break them down

Do parts of your organization work separately from others? Does your business struggle to share information and ideas across the entire organization? Are there too few links between your teams?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then your business may be struggling with Departmental Silos. These silos aren’t just frustrating to work in, they’re also bad for business. They reduce efficiency, breakdown trust and kill productivity within your organization. It’s no wonder then that in a recent study from McKinsey, execs ranked silos as the biggest barrier to business success. 

The bad news is that silos are incredibly common, a growing pain that companies of all sizes will have to overcome at some stage during their development. The good news, is that there are some tried and tested techniques that you can use to break them down if and when your company does run into them.

Here are four simple steps that your organization can take to break down departmental silos. 

1. Share a common goal 

Often silos and divisions within an organization appear when different departments are working towards different goals. They could be sales targets, launch dates or customer service scores; but by focusing solely on their own unique challenges and objectives, individual departments inevitably lose sight of the bigger picture. 

This is an example of small picture thinking, the solution is to focus on helping your teams see the organization’s overall ambitions. In order to break down this silo mentality it’s vital that your teams share a common goal, a unified target or set of values that everyone is working towards. No matter what that goal is, the key is helping your teams to understand the objective and what role they will play in achieving it. The aim is to help your teams shift away from the mindset of “I’m in marketing” or “I’m in HR” to a shared focus that encourages everyone to work together to achieve success. Utilizing a rewards and recognition platform can allow people to recognize others from outside of their department, and this helps to better connect with each other on a common goal.

rewards and recognition platform

2. Communication is key 

In some regards silos are a natural part of any company. Indeed the division of labour in any organization is fundamentally built on separating your people into different departments. The key to overcoming silos then is not to break down this structure but to bridge the gaps between it. 

Communication is essential to ensuring that everyone is pulling in the same direction. It’s vital that you share as much information as possible with your people so that they know what’s going on across the entire organization, not just their own department. From 'All Hands' meetings to regular Q&A sessions, by leading from the top and empowering your people to share information, you will create a culture where collaboration is commonplace. Modern technology makes this even easier, and today you can choose from an endless array of programs and tools that are specifically designed to help your teams work better together. With the remote work environment that we see today, there are tools and techniques to build stronger communication amongst departments, such as donut calls, online socials, employee recognition platforms, and more!

employee recognition platform

3. Bring people together

Breaking down silos isn’t just about bridging divides and punching through barriers between departments, it’s about forging better connections between your people. After all, how are your employees meant to share their knowledge and insights if they don’t know who to share it with?

The key is to create a culture of camaraderie where your people can get to know people outside of their immediate teams and build bonds across the entire business. Inclusive activities like team lunches, social nights and fun quizzes are a great way of enticing people outside of their silos and build relationships across the entire spectrum of your organization. These connections will not only help your people to feel more engaged, they’ll also help to create a better flow of information between different departments.  

Looking for inspiration? Check out our recent Culture Builders webinar, with Agata Zasada, VP of People & Culture at Bananatag, who broke down the secret to the company’s incredible connectivity. 

4. Reward cooperation 

When it comes to breaking down silos employee rewards are often overlooked, but it can be a vital tool to help you build and maintain connections throughout your company. By utilizing a rewards and recognition platform like Bucketlist you can actively reward people for breaking down silos, positively reinforcing their behaviour to ensure that silos are broken down for good. 

It’s a great way of building a culture of continuous collaboration. But employee engagement software can also help to forge better connections between your teams. Utilizing a peer-to-peer system for example, can help ensure that colleagues from every corner of your organization can recognize each other’s achievements and acknowledge their work. This not only helps to solidify connections between departments, but also ensures that everyone recognizes and understands the importance of each others’ contributions. 

It can be a hugely successful tactic as the University of Texas (UTA) found when they turned to Bucketlist to help them break down their silos. Click here to find out more about the University’s experience and how they used employee engagement to build communication and celebration between departments. 

rewards and recognition platform

If you’d like to find out more about how the Bucketlist employee rewards and recognition app can help your business, contact us for a free demo. We’d love to help you improve your company’s engagement!

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