The silo mentality in any organisation is harmful to the company and a barrier to high performing teams. It can lead to lack of motivation, a loss of focus, lack of respect for managers and leaders, duplicated effort, a slow in growth of the business as everyone pulls in different directions, or agitated customers who are hearing mixed and confusing messages. At FP Training we have worked with many organisations from across the East Midlands and nationally to address silo mentality and the potentially negative impact this has on businesses. From our experience of working with teams we are offering 5 steps you can take to tackle this in your company.

First, What Exactly is Silo Mentality?

According to the Oxford Dictionary a silo is ‘A system, process, department, etc. that operates in isolation from others.’ When a team or individual has a silo mentality they are working in isolation from other teams. It exists when individuals and teams believe that it is not their responsibility to coordinate with other people or teams in the wider organisation. It’s difficult to measure but the impacts of silo teams can have company wide effects. These include;

  • Decreased efficiency
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of accountability
  • Increased stress
  • Duplicated work
  • Uncompleted tasks
  • Lack of accountability

How Do You Know if You Have a Silo Mentality?

There are some common symptoms of the silo mentality, here are a few that you may already be aware of within your organisation.

  1. There is a lot of reference to them and us
  2. You will hear ‘that’s not my job’ used a lot
  3. There will be a general lack of respect for other teams
  4. Communication and response times between teams will be slow
  5. You may hear ‘isn’t that [insert another department] team’s job?’
  6. Targets may not be achieved across teams
  7. You will certainly hear complaints about other teams

Steps You Can Take Right Now to Fix This

  1. Develop unified visions and a common goal – develop a vision from the inside out not from the top down, working with your teams to set the vision, increasing buy in from day 1. Ensure everyone understands their individual contribution to the common goal and how each team contributes to the common goal. Do your teams know the company vision and goals, do they know how each team fits? Many of the clients we work with on team development often think they do until they start to investigate. They are often aware of the overall company vision but not sure how they fit in to it, we see the biggest difference in team performance when this is addressed.
  2. Improve communication – This seems like an obvious statement, but I regularly see poor and ineffective communication from leaders, managers, office staff, between teams and across teams. This poor communication can contribute to silo working but also unhappy employees. Be clear, check understanding, encourage two-way feedback and use appropriate forms of communication.
  3. Define roles and responsibilities – When each team member clearly understands their own and each other’s role and responsibility team collaboration is significantly improved. When every individual knows how their role contributes to the bigger picture they understand the impact and consequences of not actioning something or doing something badly. They hold themselves and each other accountable.
  4. Develop a gratitude culture – Say thank you. Saying thank you for something specific demonstrates the importance of small actions. This will motivate staff and re-confirm the difference each individual and team makes towards the common goal. The more you express gratitude, the more this will become a natural part of the company culture.
  5. Lastly and most importantly in my opinion, it starts at the top – Lead by example, this falls within every point above. You could implement each of the above with your team but if they don’t see this being role modelled by leadership, motivation will soon be lost. Set the example that you want to see in your team.

FP Training work with companies and leaders across the East Midlands and nationally to make dramatic improvements to their team performance. We develop unique and bespoke programmes to make the biggest difference. Implementing the 5 steps above will help you start to make those differences you need and create high performing teams. Don’t forget to let us know hear how you get on and do not hesitate to get in touch for further advice on getting the best from your teams and leaders. The coffee is always on us!

Further information

Tribal Leadership: The Key to Building Great Teams

Why Being ‘The Boss’ is Not Enough and How to Focus on Leadership

What is Effective Leadership?