Why do Silos Form in Businesses?

At our core, humans really aren’t that different from most other mammals. We need food, we build a community/tribe/family unit that we want to protect, and we need a nest/cave/3000 square foot McMansion of some sort that we can feel safe in. So it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that these same needs follow us into the modern work environment.

Today, most organizations are made up of at least couple different types of departments including HR, IT, Sales/Marketing, Business, Creative, and the list goes on and on. Each of these departments requires a very specific type of personality and those people are more likely to find similarities among each other. If these groups feel safe and protected then they will happily co-mingle with other departments. The key words here are “safe” and “protected,” just as in the paragraph above. If most of the people in the group do not feel this way then silo walls will start to form really fast.

To understand this better we need to ask what would lead someone, or a group, to not feel safe and protected. It really boils down to 3 core issues: Communication, Empathy, and Understanding.

Here are a couple examples. Let’s say your Business Department operates on a different set of hours and gets to leave early because they come in early. If IT sees this but doesn’t understand why it’s happening they may start to feel resentment towards Business for getting special treatment. Or let’s say your Client Fulfillment staff has a lot on their plate, works very hard every day, but can barely keep up with demand. If there was a system of open communication in your organization then they could explain their situation and try to come up with a better system with your other departments. Without the ability to communicate their situation and build empathy and understanding, Client Fulfillment could be seen as slow, a bunch of slackers, or a bottleneck, quickly lead to an “us vs. them” mentality and the creation, and possibly reinforcement, of Silos.

From Silos between Departments all the way to borders between countries, it takes Communication, Empathy, and Understanding to remove the barriers. Once the walls start to come down the work must continue. Everyone in the organization, from the top to the bottom must commit to supporting and enhancing the systems of Communication, Empathy, and Understanding. Once that happens you’ll begin to notice a positive and rewarding culture permeating through to your customers where once only Silo walls existed.

If you’re ready to start taking down the Silos then we’re ready to give you everything thing we’ve got. Drop us a line and get started!

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