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Organizational Silos 101: Breaking Barriers to Performance Excellence

Despite the emergence of new devices and software products designed to unite employees in more ways than ever before, the threat of organizational silos is still very real. While silos deter customer experiences and producing correctly functioning products – the root of the problem is that many managers fail to spot those silos as they formulate in front of their very eyes.

What are Silos? Organization silos describe the isolation that occurs when employees or entire departments within an organization do not want to or do not have adequate means to share information or knowledge with each other. Siloed teams often end up working in isolation from the rest of the company. This leads to a plethora of internal and external problems for employees, executives, partners, and customers.

In Organizational Design, it is critical to also consider the risks of unintended silos within the organization.  Having organizational silos can lead to duplicate work, inefficiency, bugs and generalized employee disenfranchisement at a granular level. Work is being done without regard to how the work impacts other departments. Departments start having tunnel vision, solely focused on their own functional area. In the end, there is a breakdown in communication and transparency leading to organizational dysfunction on multiple levels. This can greatly affect the company’s ability to deliver an excellent Customer Experience.

Breaking Down Organizational Silos: The 5 Key Symptoms

Understanding the 5 Key Symptoms of Organizational Silos will guide companies in breaking down silos and limiting their effect on performance, goals, and targets.

  1. Broken Customer Experiences. This is the most obvious sign of a siloed team. Eventually, this symptom will ultimately make the company undesirable.
  1. Internal Unfamiliarity. There is internal unfamiliarity when employees or colleagues are not on a first name basis. Employees are not familiar with the majority of the people outside the team and what they do.
  1. The Us vs. Them Mentalities. When your department sees other departments as competitors and obstacles to success, then there exists the us vs. them mentality. In the us vs. them mentality, protectionist thinking exists. When this happens, information is not shared for fear that another team’s gain will be their loss.  This leads to the creation of cliques with its own distinct culture that is not aligned with the company’s overall mission and culture.
  1. Disenfranchised Employees. Having employees who feel that they are not part of the team is a symptom of organizational silos. Disenfranchised employees are unhappy, unproductive, and pose the risk of sharing negativity with coworkers.
  1. Task Duplication. Have you seen people of different teams working on similar assignments and projects? That is a symptom that there are organizational silos within your company. When there is task duplication, this can lead to inefficiencies and loss of productivity.

Companies can immediately break down barriers to communication and collaboration once the key symptoms are detected. Silos in business have two sides to the coin. The good side is variety, ownership, accountability, specialization, and efficiency. However, on the other side, the bad side means short-sightedness, inaccessibility, and inefficiency. This can harm your organization.

Organizations must be able to deal with silos inside a business. This can be done by expanding our perspectives and motivation in the work we do.

Interested in gaining more understanding of Organizational Silos, the different types, and proper ways of addressing them? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint of Organizational Silos here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Joseph Robinson

Joseph Robinson is the Vice President of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is the marketplace for best practices in business management. Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. The documents at Flevy (https://flevy.com) are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. Flevy covers 200+ management topics, ranging from Digital Transformation to Growth Strategy to Lean Management. You can peruse a full list of management topics available on Flevy here. Prior to Flevy, Joseph worked as an Associate at BCG and holds an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn here.

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