Too many organizations tout collaboration as a fundamental tool for success while allowing silo mentality to run rampant across their teams. If we know collaboration is important, why do we fail to stop silos in their tracks?
Silo mentality is an attitude that develops wherein different departments or groups within an organization do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same organization. (You can see why this is an obvious issue.)
Work silos are the bed bugs of business; they spread easily, and they’re painful to eradicate. So let’s learn to spot the red flags of silos and eliminate them before they can do any more damage.
Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs.
The clearest sign of a silo in the workplace is two teams tackling the same responsibilities. We know duplicate work is costly for the company, but it’s also terrible for team morale. It pits teams against one another and renders work that employees put time and care into meaningless.
One way to ensure teams are synchronizing without overlapping is to use technology.
With the complexity of modern projects, it can feel impossible to track what every team and individual team member is doing at a given time. With project management apps, like Backlog, you can store everyone’s work assignments in one place, allocate tasks evenly, and track them as they progress.
You can easily eliminate duplicate work by assigning each part of a project to a specific person in the form of a task. Tasks include all the relevant steps and details needed to complete the work as well as the expected date of completion.
With project management software, anyone on any team can see every task in progress for their project and ensure they’re not duplicating efforts.
A ship will never reach its destination if the crew isn’t working together to get there.
Silos disrupt your businesses ability to get your crew working towards the same goal. Marketing has one set of goals, the product team has another, and so on, but if each team is seeing a different destination, your company is probably acting like a ship sailing in circles.
When this occurs, it won’t matter which teams are hitting their goals and which aren’t: your company isn’t moving towards its ultimate destination, together.
Creating priorities that align with the companies goals from the top down is a challenge for everyone. Sometimes the companies vision is unclear. Sometimes people disagree internally about what the goals should be. Even worse, sometimes goals are left undefined altogether.
It’s no wonder silo mentality thrives in this kind of setting. If you want to eliminate silo’s, you’ll need to ensure that everyone understands and buys into the company’s goals and vision. All teams need to be moving forward together, creating departmental and individual goals that align with the greater purpose of the company.
Moreover, goals need to be revisited and reevaluated again and again to ensure that progress continues on track.
Having clear, prioritized, overarching goals for the company will make it much easier for your teams to align on priorities, collaborate on common goals, and eliminate silos.
Lack of collaboration
We all understand that collaboration is important, but many companies depend too much on informal collaboration (i.e. hoping their teams will naturally want to collaborate.) The problem is, informal collaboration is ad hoc and insufficient.
For collaboration to truly thrive, you have to formalize it into your workflow and regularly check in to make sure it’s actually happening.
One way to encourage collaboration is through transparent communication. Again, technology can be an essential tool to achieving this goal.
Chat apps, like Typetalk, encourage every member of a project to communicate and collaborate. Because conversations take place in a universally shared space, any member can contribute and every member is made aware of what conversations are happening.
With Typetalk and Backlog’s integration, not only are your conversations about your project transparent, but they can be linked back to the actual work tasks within your project management tool. Integrated app ecosystems, like Nulab’s, build collaboration into every aspect of your workflow.
The final red flag to watch out for can be a tough one to destroy: groupthink. Groupthink occurs when members of a team prioritize harmony and agreement over critical analysis. Members tend to follow whatever idea is presented, rather than disagree or bring up contradictory evidence.
It’s easy to understand why groupthink is so common: we want to get along with our coworkers. But challenging one another’s ideas doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience if critical analysis is a foundation of the company culture.
When critical analysis is encouraged, the best ideas rise to the top. If your brainstorming sessions produce consensus without also producing new information or ideas, your team might be suffering from groupthink.
Innovation will suffer, and ultimately, teams will too readily form strategies that don’t sufficiently support the greater goals of the company. This leads to more misalignment and—you guessed it—more silos.
Groupthink has to be discouraged from the top-down. Leadership needs to encourage all members to bring up new ideas and point out potential flaws. Encourage lively, but civil, debate. Respect differences. And teach your team the value in collaborating to find solutions with the greatest potential.
Collaboration is the antidote to silos. Using technology and strong leadership, you can encourage more collaboration across your organization. Get rid of silos before they become entrenched in your company culture.
Searching for the right project management tool?
Check out Backlog, a project management tool for developers and their teams.