I hear a lot of companies and teams talk about silos in their workplaces. Members of the same team sometimes work totally independently of one another and don’t share information. Teams work independently from one another and don’t share information. It can feel like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. We can all agree that those working conditions do not foster the highest level of productivity possible. But we also all need to be willing to ask ourselves where silos come from.
Did the other team stop sharing information with you or did you stop sharing with them?
Did you stop asking questions first or did they?
Did they stop updating you when the project went in another direction or did you?
Chicken or egg?
You get the idea. It quickly can become a chicken-and-egg scenario. Taking time and spending energy on figuring out where to point the finger isn’t really productive. It isn’t what matters at the end of the day. What matters is what you’re willing to do about it.
Silos start with individual people in a team or organization deciding something. Maybe it’s that the communication takes too much time. Or the meetings aren’t productive. Or someone doesn’t want to deal with conflict. Whatever the root cause, silos start with individuals.
If you’ve got issues with silos in your team or organization, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. I’d encourage you to start with yourself. If you’ve noticed the silo, chances are that you’re inadvertently (or maybe on purpose) upholding the culture that created it. Ask yourself why. What are you gaining by not having to spend time or energy communicating with the others? Maybe it’s just time and energy. But maybe it’s something else. Something you might be avoiding…
What will you do about it?
Dig deep, friends. Be honest. Painfully honest. And then identify one tiny step you can personally take to address it. Maybe it’s reaching out to a member of the other team to have coffee and renew your professional relationship. Maybe it’s asking to attend their next meeting to get a better understanding of what they’re working on. Maybe it’s something else.
Make it small, specific, and actionable, and then set a deadline for yourself to make it happen. Breaking down silos is critical to workplace success and building better connections. Change can start with you. Come back and let me know how it goes. I’ll be here rooting for you.