In this month’s focus on Silo thinking and isolation in the workplace, today we are unearthing the Silo mentality. We will explore exactly what silo mentality is and then reveal what it takes to break down the silos.
When an individual has a silo mentality, they have a rigid simplistic style of thinking. The person who thinks in terms of Silos, will stick to tradition, do things the way they have always been done and will tend to hold onto information and not share it with others.
When there is a team Silo it is a group of people who do not share information, goals, practices, or processes with other groups. This type of mindset creates all sorts of challenges across the organisation and stems from either over-managing or underleading.
Silos exist when divisions or parts of organisations won’t talk to each other.
When people or groups work in silos and become isolated from each other, it creates unnecessary, misaligned, or duplicated work, and the flow-on effect is that there is poor decision-making due to miscommunication. There is a decline in the experience and satisfaction of both the worker and the client or customer. The adaptability and quality of work produced also decline rapidly!
Silo mentality does not appear out of the blue. It is not something that suddenly creeps up on you!
It happens in incremental steps that you can see, if you are looking.
The actual cause of a silo mentality is, at its root, an issue with a conflicted leadership team! They are conflicted between their personal agenda and the team or organisational vision.
Many executive leadership teams may dismiss the problems blaming department inefficiencies or the immaturity of managers. However, the responsibility of the leadership team is to recognise the changes, concerns and separations that are occurring and cultivate an approach early on, that will break down the silo mentality.
What does it take to break down Silos?
The way to break down silos is to get onto the issue early and create an organisation of people who all head in the same direction.
This direction can be led by:
👉 Creating a unified vision – change the language to ‘WE’ instead of ‘My or I’. It is the ‘whole of organisation’, not a small little department that goes rogue. The manager who refers to ‘my department’ is the one to look out for and put a stop to this behaviour.
👉 Working towards a common goal – identify and follow through on the priority goals. Highlight the whole of organisation priorities for everyone and then identify where each department or group fits into the bigger picture. This shows where and how each group is contributing to the outcome.
👉 Inspiring and influencing team – when each leader is fully aware of what it takes to inspire and influence each individual in their team and makes that happen, then and only then will silos begin to break down. It is vital for leaders to know how to inspire each individual.
👉 Performing, measuring and following through – when each of the teams are following through on a consistent basis with the actions that contribute to the overall vision of the organisation, that’s when you know the silos have fallen.
Breaking down the silos is no easy task for any organisation. However, the avoidance of it is far more detrimental than not dealing with it. The four steps above are designed to help individuals, teams and entire organisations find common ground and cultivate a robust process to break down the silos and create an environment of openness, empowerment and develop a unified vision for the future.