How to Take Out Communication Silos

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Tech Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for IT pros

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Communication silos can be ingrained in company culture, but they could be costing your business productivity and morale.

Article 4 Minutes

In theory, everyone in the same organization should be pulling in the same direction, but this isn’t always the case. So many businesses find their culture has been infected with a silo mentality and merely identifying it isn’t enough. Once you realize there’s an unwillingness for departments to share information, it can be difficult to redress the issue to create a more unified workforce.

What’s the problem with departmental silos?

Communication silos aren’t a new phenomenon, but they’re becoming ubiquitous; once they’ve taken hold within an organization, it can be difficult to reverse the trend. Companies need to approach their goals in a collaborative manner and decentralize communication. Otherwise they’ll find they lack efficiency, reduce trust and morale and see productivity falling. Such destructive organizational barriers aren’t good for business.

How much do communication silos cost companies?

All of the implications of communication silos can be seen as negative, but it’s not until you start understanding what these equate to in financial terms that you begin to understand the real cost to your business.

"When agents spend more time looking for information or trying to find subject matter experts (SMEs) to help address an issue, the customers are more likely to get frustrated due to lengthened wait time in addressing their needs. Some of these frustrated customers will likely stop doing business with the company - further increasing the cost of poor agent productivity." - Omer Minkara, VP and Principal Analyst at Aberdeen

 

Effective ways to overcome communication silos

Breaking down silos won’t happen instantaneously but must be worked towards over time. There are a number of approaches and techniques that can help an organization work towards better collaboration and communication between teams. In businesses where silos have become entrenched, this will be a huge switch in the company culture, but one that’ll have benefits for everyone if achieved.

1. Regularly communicate company goals

Employees need to be reminded that individual or departmental goals should come second to those of the company. This vision needs to be repeated often and in different formats, especially in businesses where a culture of siloed communication has become ingrained. Slowly, this will help to change the mindset of staff and the benefits will start to become clear.

2. Align the goals of different departments

Goals should be used to bring different teams together rather than divide them and putting the aims of various departments in line with each other will have a unifying impact. There are likely to be certain areas of the business that have a lot in common and setting these naturally related teams off on a joint task will help to underline the similarities, making it easier for them to work together in future.

3. Create more opportunities for teams to get to know each other

Breaking down the boundaries between departments can be achieved in a number of ways, but team building is among the most successful. Taking employees out of their usual environment and getting to know each other in a fun and sociable way is likely to make them more inclined to share information in the workplace.

4. Leaders demonstrating a collaborative approach

Culture within a company rarely changes unless it comes from the top and the leadership must take responsibility for setting a good example. They can also encourage collaboration by discussing shared goals with multiple departments, designating a member of each team to keep everyone informed on key projects, regularly getting team leaders together and rewarding effective collaboration.

5. Deploy collaborative software tools

Instead of dividing people, technology can be used to bring them together. Investing in collaborative software that makes sharing information easier could help to change the way teams interact. This could be in the form of virtual whiteboards, project management platforms, document sharing tools or data management software.

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