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Do you ever find yourself wondering why your organization has a hard time making decisions, solving problems or accomplishing goals that should be fairly simple? If so, the silo mentality may be to blame.

Silos between departments are among the most common challenges to project success and organizational efficiency today. Employees are often unwilling to share information outside their own groups or departments, often because they don’t believe that other departments share the same priorities or have the same goals in mind. Inevitably, this way of thinking leads to miscommunication, delayed or incorrect decisions and decreased competitiveness for the company as a whole. The strategies listed here can help you break down organizational silos and improve the way teams, departments and business units communicate with one another.

Break Down Silos Between Departments

There can also be virtual silos where teams appear to be communicating and collaborating but their interactions are not in context with actual work. IMs and chatter are lost in a sea of interactions and go out of step with the goals at hand. People “collaborate” for collaboration’s sake, and can fail to make any real progress.

Evaluate Your Corporate Culture
In many cases, employees are right to think that other departments or units are following different priorities than their own. While creating an organizational silo may not be the ideal way to address the situation, it’s easy to understand why team members or managers might try to seal themselves off from internal competitors.

The first step in silo management within your organization is to create a culture in which all employees are aware of the company’s strategic goals and how their teams contribute toward those goals. Regular communication from senior leaders and shareholders is essential for creating a sense of shared purpose. Once employees can see the big picture, they’ll be less likely to work against each other and more willing to collaborate outside their own departments.

Set Goals and Measure Progress
Even when your company culture is open to collaboration, employees still need to be motivated to do it. Everyone from top executives to department managers to project managers should emphasize the importance of collaboration and set goals for their teams to improve cross-functional communication. Whether teams are asked to schedule meetings together, create online forums to share information or work together in other ways, it’s a good idea to monitor progress and report to the group on the benefits that collaboration is providing. When employees see how breaking down silos can make their work easier, more of them will want to get in on the action and see how their work contributes to important goals.

Provide the Right Tools
People don’t always work in silos by choice. In many cases, employees may be perfectly willing to share information outside their department, but lack a way to do it effectively. Older forms of communication like email create fragmented conversations, in which important information can easily slip through the cracks, and key people might be left out of important updates. Moreover, the data or information can go stale quickly and may not represent the current state of what’s going on.

Online collaboration solutions, especially those that are integrated with project management software, provide an ideal way for employees and outside partners to stay connected and engaged. Clarizen’s innovative collaboration tools make it easy for project teams to work effectively, even when team members are scattered across multiple departments, locations and organizations. They provide the context and visibility that teams need to stay productive, stay connected and move things forward in a meaningful way.

Learn more by taking a Clarizen product tour today.

Angela Bunner
Angela Bunner, Sr. Director Product