7 Strategies to Eliminate the Silo Effect in Communication
The Silo Effect in communication occurs when people form groups within companies. In this sense, these groups or departments only talk to each other without considering the company’s general objectives.
A Silo is a large receptacle that holds various materials. The word has its origins in the agricultural world. In agriculture, silos keep their respective materials separate. This same logic applies to the definition given in the business world.
Communication silos can be dangerous. They cause information bottlenecks, encourage politics within the office, reduce the effectiveness of communication and slow progress.
During a 2019 study, it was noticed that, on average, customer experience agents waste 15% of their time due to poor communication with other employees when trying to obtain information to serve the customer. Businesses can’t afford to lose a lot of productivity because of the silo effect in communication, so here are seven ways to deal with it.
1- Connect People through A Common Purpose | Silo Effect in Communication
When discussing “silos” in communication, one of the problems is that they only discuss their respective interests. It divides employees into groups that they usually wouldn’t.
There might not be a way, or even an intention, to eliminate the interests/goals of a silo, but you can use them to your advantage while emphasizing the business’s goals. Tying employees to a business goal is an effective way to encourage unity.
Employees must be able to act on something that defines the company as a whole. This can be helping the customer get a product, increasing community reach, or providing the best possible service. It is a common way for employees to connect and serving the customer remains key to any business operations. Using an XCAAS platform allows all employees to collaborate and can be helpful in this regard.
The marketing department might also create an internal manifesto. This fosters a unified view of what the company looks for and what it hopes to achieve. Such a type of manifesto can encourage employees to stay motivated in what they do and help them gain a broader perspective.
The structure below illustrates how corporate goals are distinct from departmental and individual goals. Connecting people through a common purpose does not mean sacrificing their personal ambitions.
2- Establish Communication Experts within The Company
Is there anyone on your team who is particularly good at communication? It’s an excellent idea to name individuals within different silos who can communicate with each other. These people may belong to various departments, but they should be more appreciated. Now is the time to get them into action! They could help bridge the gaps between the silos.
Information about the views of each silo is crucial, it can help deconstruct groups and bring people together. Appoint someone who can represent the voice of their respective silo and that person can bring the information back to you. These expert communicators within the company can also support other silos. This will help them provide important information to management.
Part of being a great manager is empowering others to take the lead. They could be given specific titles to demonstrate their value, such as “internal communicator” or “department spokesperson”.
3- Open Your Desktop Boundaries
The physical design of your office also makes a variation. Silos are often formed when departments or groups are in separate rooms. They do not have the possibility to communicate outside these spaces. In these small areas, people usually talk to each other. This is how ideas circulate within a silo and its state of mind is reinforced.
The pandemic has led to more communication difficulties. Employees don’t chat casually with each other like they would in the office. Social media stress related to time spent online has also worsened employees’ interpersonal relationships. However, for companies with communication silos, this has been an advantage.
Silos are much less likely to form when employees work from home. They have little opportunity to form the same close friendships necessary to build a silo. Companies need to promote an open environment to combat this.
Consider changing your office layout to open up more spaces. Managers can also help by changing the seating arrangement for each employee. For example, consider the different teams involved if your company takes an agile software development approach. Can you merge them so that members of each silo sit together rather than leaving isolated teams? This will help break down communication silos and encourage cross-group relationships.
4– Use Training For Collaboration | Silo Effect in Communication
There are many business training services in the market. Some allow employees to spend time learning ways to communicate better with other workers. It promotes better team collaboration.
Training professionals are eager to discover why groups communicate with each other the way they do. They challenge some employees’ misconceptions about others and their beliefs about company values. Some aim to “reprogram the relational skills” of employees. They will help employees become more understanding with their peers.
This method teaches those with a fixed mindset to consider the feelings of other peers outside of their silo. In their daily work, people will begin to understand better why someone from a different department or group is expressing certain feelings.
This method has a cost, but if the division runs deep, this may be your best option as it encourages empathy and support in employee relations. It can relieve tension on all sides if administered on a large scale.
5- Team Improvement Exercises Across Departments
Dedicated days of team-building exercises can also help break down barriers. Employees can cooperate outside of a work environment. They can be placed in groups that encourage silo wear.
Consider placing in groups strategically; for example: choose one person from each existing silo and form a new team. This approach also brings a benefit perceived by employees: they will have a day off with their colleagues. The day can include obstacle courses, sports, treasure hunts, and culinary, artistic or musical events.
Even if it happens in a day, it can still have a lasting impact. Employees may begin to see their colleagues in a different light. They will be more likely to form new friendships that can disrupt silos.
Team building can also take place on a smaller scale. Even simple “icebreaker” activities between meetings can encourage people to have knowledge about others better. If your employees are working from home, an IP telephony solution can be a great platform for virtual gaming, which can be just as effective as in-person activities.
6- Install Collaboration Software | Silo Effect in Communication
Companies can also choose to invest in collaboration software. For example, an internal social network such as Yammer, Facebook’s Workplace or Google’s Workspace. Chat services such as Google Chat, and Slack or can also provide a platform for employees to interact with others outside of their physical space.
Analyze if employees from different silos can collaborate on a particular program or project that you have to offer them. Some software promotes work across silos, allowing employees to access information outside of their department. This allows for a level of clarity that can break down barriers.
However, a workforce optimization solution can also be used; it often has the tools necessary for collaboration.
7- Shadowing | Silo Effect in Communication
What better way to encourage communication between departments than to assign one employee to learn about another’s work? They can learn more about the day-to-day tasks of the different departments, including the challenges they face. This encourages them to understand the roles of others better.
Your HR department may be facing issues with candidate volume or your IT department may face problems such as packet loss. Let the core members of your other teams learn from their challenges first.
During shadowing, each employee will have the chance to meet other members of the company. They will meet people outside their group and can bring this experience back to their own silo. This can reduce friction between departments. They might also consider forming friendships they had never thought of before. The observation could be the start of a potential connection that breaks down the silos of different peers.
Having the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone helps employees better understand their primary role and place in the company. This encourages them to consider their value to the company.
As a result, they can find ways to improve their effectiveness and encourage positive change. This could include installing a robotic process automation (RPA) system to make their work less repetitive and more enjoyable.
Preventing the Silo Effect In The Future
The techniques above will ensure that you are on the right path to breaking down the dangerous Silo Effect in communication. However, while this article will help you solve existing problems, prevention is still the best policy.
The root cause of the silo effect is a lack of unified management. Managers across multiple teams often need to be aligned on a core business strategy. If employees experience strong leadership, they will feel more secure in their positions and understand the company’s main direction.
Thus, companies should focus on improving their management strategies. This will prevent the silo effect from forming again.
These methods include implementing a hierarchy that promotes accountability and choosing task-tracking software to monitor your manager’s productivity.
A lot of time is wasted due to poor communication between employees. Don’t let this become a problem for your business.
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