Once you’ve identified that your organization is suffering from silos, you’re going to want to eliminate them right away. The longer they go on, the harder they are to break. Over 25 years ago, the quest to eliminate these organizational boundaries was championed by Jack Welch, who was CEO of General Electric at the time.
Welch's strategy is still relevant today, but there are also new developments in this arena. With an ever-changing business and technology landscape, this is something you should always be striving for. Even when you bust up silos in your business, best practices should persist to prevent recurrences.
Here are some solutions to help you continuously bust up silos:
1. Review your critical project teams and diversify them.
This does not mean fire people, but you can remove people from projects and teams, add in some new blood and increase diversity. If you don’t think someone is a great fit or you find too much homogeneity on the team, reassignment will help your team and aid in that person’s development. Make sure to have an array of strengths and talents on each team. A software development team can’t work with just programmers. You need user-experience experts, task masters, beta testers, etc. Cross-functional collaboration can also help participants build their employee network.
2. Document and discuss your processes.
This isn’t about evaluating the quality of the work people do. This is about documenting and discussing the process by which they do their jobs. Use it as a learning experience and tool to help diversify your team members. Have them document each other’s process by being walked through it. Having an outsider view for documentation is beneficial, and it will encourage mutual respect. The process of documentation will help you identify where the flow is breaking down. At that point, the team can come together to try to remedy any obstructions.
3. Develop your leaders across departmental lines.
If you want to bust out of a silo environment, you have to develop your leaders outside of silos. If you’ve got employees targeted for advancement, start assigning them to work with different departments. Make sure cross-functional projects are on their agenda. Give them experiences to help them build the skills necessary to lead. In a study by Harvard Business Publishing, 58% of the least successful businesses surveyed said that leadership development was just something they did to ‘check a box.’ Don’t be that business.
Centralized reporting that focuses teams and their leaders on shared goals can go a long way to combat working in silos.
4. Develop leaders’ global acumen.
Similar to the solution above, this one is becoming more important all the time. Nearly every business now competes in a global market. Do you have offices and employees across the globe? If so, make sure they work together on projects. Encourage employees to work on location in different cities and countries when the opportunity arises. Perhaps provide paid subscriptions to world news sites and encourage global learning.
5. Hire and embrace diversity.
You want to hire people that enhance your current team and fill in gaps in talent, style and personality. Use things like HBDI to determine what styles you already have and identify what you are missing. The more diverse your team, the less likely they are to separate into silos.
How Aspirant Can Help
Would the support of an impartial, unbiased partner help your teams overcome siloed thinking or competing priorities? Aspirant's Organizational Effectiveness experts can help develop and socialize a cohesive plan that keeps your company engaged and actively collaborating. Use the form below to schedule a casual discussion to explore how we can help amp up your team's productivity.
Any questions or feedback? We'd love to hear from you.
Judy partners with executives and leadership teams to engage and inspire employees in a way that delivers sustainable strategic results. She brings deep expertise and creative ideas to solve organizational effectiveness issues and closely collaborates in a way that builds internal capabilities. Judy has spent over 25 years consulting in a variety of industries, bringing her expertise in behavior to a wide range of organizational issues including organizational behavior change, leadership, change management, culture and engagement.