Perhaps you have heard the expression of business silos before. Silos refer to the way some businesses departments keep themselves cut off from the rest of the company. An example would be the marketing team doesn’t communicate with the sales team and the finance team.

Silos effect companies negatively, often hindering their growth. Understand silos and how to break them down.

What Happens When Businesses Have Silos?

The marketing team plans an elaborate campaign, with professionally written commercials, email campaigns and a new landing page for the website. It’s going to be glorious! It’s also going to cost $20,000.

The finance team has a budget meeting. During the finance meeting, they decide to allocate more budget to procurement at the detriment to the marketing team. 

The sales team had a meeting, they have realized that their customers aren’t buying in the same manner or for the reasons they used to pitch to. They have to re-think their sales strategies in order to secure those sales.

Now what? Marketing spent months planning a campaign that will fail to convert as a result of not consulting the sales team. They have also over budgeted, since finance has diverted their funding.

Months of time have been utterly wasted because the departments have poor communication.

Why Silos Don’t Work

Businesses flounder when silos are up, departments cannot plan accordingly, fostering distrust. When departments don’t trust each other, no one can thrive, especially the company.

Once distrust has settled in a department it can be hard to break. It’s a toxic chain seeping through your company. Not only is this hard on your company’s morale, it can foster stress in your individual employees, leading to lack of productivity. 

Silos also lead to poor reaction times. If there were ever a crisis or opportunity for your company, the departments might be slow to react. If IT believes it’s Marketing’s job to deal with communicating a breach in your client’s database, and if Marketing believe’s it’s management’s job to deal with it, then it could take hours to notify anyone that there has been an issue.

In contrast, poor communication can mean missed opportunity. In 2013, during Super Bowl XLVII the power went out. Oreo cookie, in an awesome touch-down (forgive the pun, I couldn’t resist), sent out a Tweet: “You can still dunk in the dark”

Aptly timed, using trending hashtags and just hilarious. Why were they able to scramble, get the graphics, the copy and the Tweet out? Effective interdepartmental communication.

How can you ensure that your business is ready for anything? What does it take to break down silos, or better yet, never put them up in the first place?

How To Fix Business Silos

Best case scenario: Your business doesn’t have silos yet – you’re new or a company of few, so you already work closely together. This is great, keep up the good work. Regularly scheduled, interdepartmental meetings helps everyone keep in touch with other departments; dispelling distrust and everyone stays on the same business page. 

You have a vision for your company, make sure your team is clear on that vision and how to work toward it.

Worst case scenario: You have silos. It’s ok, you’ll break them down, it’ll just take some time. First, recognize the depth of the silos; is it between all departments or just a few? Then, start building the communication and trust back up.

There are companies that offer communication software if you don’t already have an IT department that can create an intranet for you. Once implemented, the departments can update their team’s workflow, keeping everyone in the loop with minimal meetings.

You can also set up a company newsletter. You can assign this to someone in your company or hire a freelance copywriter to collect the data from each department and weave it into a cohesive newsletter shared between your company’s departments.

Having a professional writer do this for you keeps the newsletter organized and to the point. Maximizing the probability that your employees are reading it and gleaning useful information from it.

Start team building exercises. These can be offered to your employees as retreats, in-office events, or a bit of both.

Some examples of team building activities:

  • Dragon Boat team
  • Hockey team
  • Escape Rooms
  • Lunch Room Board Games
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Book Clubs

Get creative and try a few options, because not everyone likes the same thing.

The goal is to create teams of randomly selected participants; this way you maximize your interdepartmental team building. Your employees will learn to cooperate, build trust with someone they don’t normally work with and have fun in the process.

Get rid of your silos and watch your company thrive.

  • Assess your company’s communication
  • Begin breaking down silos
  • Build up team trust
  • Watch your business blossom

Let me know if you have tried any of these team building activities and how it went.