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Silos have been talked about for decades in the business world and recognized as a huge hindrance to organizations, especially those trying to scale up their operations. A silo mentality is where different teams or departments don’t communicate or cooperate, so an organization can end up with the various cogs of its machine trying to move in different directions.

Some of the issues created by a silo mentality:

  • Duplicated work processes
  • Targeting of same clients
  • Misaligned goals
  • Lack of process integration
  • Poor collaboration in the workplace
  • Incompatible systems
  • Use of competing software
  • Missed opportunities

It’s clear that silos have a negative impact on both individual projects and organizations overall, but what can be done to break down those silos and improve collaboration in the workplace? Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can start making things better and bringing people together, though like any shift in mentality, they require a clear strategy and a commitment to change.

  1. Identify the problems silos are causing

Before you can start tackling the issues silos are creating, you first have to identify them. This can be difficult as some issues, such as potential creativity lost, are hard to quantify. A good start can be talking to a senior executive or mentor about issues they have personally encountered over their career. Draw up a list and provide actual examples for more abstract concepts, this will help to demonstrate to your team why you need to start improving collaboration.

  1. Get team leaders on board

The next step is to bring together the heads of the different teams or departments involved with your project. Interdepartmental or cross-team collaboration in the workplace as a workplace norm can only take root if it is supported by those in charge. Explain to them the problems that silos are creating and work on steps to improve the situation.

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  1. Build trust between teams and individuals

One of the biggest reasons for silos being created in the first place is that staff members really don’t know what kind of people are in other teams. Can they trust them with an important task? Are they capable of winning over a skeptical client? These problems can only be solved by greater trust, which takes time to build. Try involving your teams in more collaborative projects, as well as non-work social events to build bonds between them.

  1. Create a common framework of culture and goals

A great way of bringing disparate parts of your team or organization together is to establish one unified vision for what you are trying to achieve. Create a charter that underpins the values of your organization and use it as a reference point for improving collaboration.

  1. Emphasize cross-team cooperative responsibilities

While the benefits of everyone pulling in the same direction are obvious, getting staff members to actually do it is another story. By informing them, as a unit and, if necessary, individually of their responsibility to do the best for the project and the organization you can encourage them to look beyond the immediate expectations on their role and see the broader picture of what the organization is trying to achieve.

Also published on Medium.

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