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SHUTTING DOWN SILO MENTALITY: FROM SOLO TO SHARING

Posted on , in HOW TO and OPINIONS and ADVICE & TIPS and INSIGHTS, by

Silos Are For Farming, Not The Workplace

Drive through the farming heartland of any country and you’ll seen them: tall, cylindrical buildings dotting the open fields. Used for storing grain or livestock feed, the windowless silo’s role on a farm is the protection and warehousing of large amounts of agricultural material, keeping it safe from weather and theft. The farm silo stands alone, a strong, silent and necessary partner in farm operations.

Many businesses find staff and information slide into a silo mentality. Workplace silos develop when departments insulate themselves against new ideas, new staff and any change, in favor of maintaining their status, promoting their legitimacy and protecting their own “turf.” Any exchange of knowledge is considered a threat to their importance and means changing the way things are done, moving from the cumbersome yet comfortable and predictable to new procedures that are more efficient and cost-effective, but could be problematic and time-consuming to implement, thus threatening to bring down the silo.

HOW WORKPLACE SILOS ARE BORN

LACK OF LEADERSHIP

Silos build from the ground up, with a strong framework to support the outer structure. In business, the framework is upper management. When managers and owners work in a silo, insulated from staff and sitting behind the scenes, rather than out front as the leading cooperative force  between departments, employees follow their lead and protect their own interests, avoid questions and discussion that could lead to a more unified and empowered team, but disturb the status quo in the process.

LACK OF TRAINING

Without direction or a specified mission, staff naturally move to protect their territory, out of concern for keeping their jobs. With no training provided for the process of exchanging information, employees work their own empires for the purpose of getting a paycheck and guarding their knowledge from other departments, rather than the goal of long-term health for the entire organization. Departments that work and train together, particularly those who are often at odd (such as sales and marketing divisions) often find that a surprising amount of common ground turns into creative collaboration.

LACK OF COOPERATION

Job descriptions are necessary to explain what needs to be done, in what order and when. But the very job descriptions meant to train employees also instill a lack of cooperation if adhered to “by the book,” or if the descriptions don’t include instructions to focus on the end result of companysuccess, rather than individual or department achievements. A hoarding mentality develops in some staffers who just like their job, and don’t want to be bothered/threatened/challenged by anything new. They keep to themselves, and guard their knowledge, secure in their value to the company because no one else knows what they know.

LACK OF FUNCTIONAL SHARING STRATEGIES

Crossing the lines between departments requires more than a managerial memo. Your company needs a cooperative interaction strategy. Staff want the opportunity to speak, listen, learn and know no criticism or dismissive attitude will follow. Establishing a regular pattern of information exchange raises expectations, increases interest across departmental borders and promotes the idea that working towards a better company is easy when the hard work is shared by everyone.

TEAM BUILDING CAN BREAK DOWN SILO MENTALITY

TAKE THE OFFICE OUT OF THE WORKPLACE

When the team leave the work space confines, the mental work silos may follow, but the physical ones, such as offices, meeting rooms and cubicles, remain behind. Changing spaces and learning to work together in a different environment challenges some, but it changes everyone.

IT’S HARD TO RESIST WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN

Whether it’s a rock climbing session, cooking challenge or hiking and river crossing expedition, it’s a fun day away from the phones, emails and client complaints. It’s difficult not to turn to the coworker sweating next to you and admit you’re having a great time. Or offer them help. And you never even asked what department they worked in.

SHARED EXPERIENCES AND EMOTION CREATE UNITY

The team building exercise is a jump-off point to start conversation. Everyone has the shared experience of participation, and different views of the day’s events. No opinions receive judgement or criticism, and every idea is relevant. In the office, the titles, experience and training establish a definitive corporate hierarchy. Away from the workplace, there’s equality among peers; no one is wearing their name badge or sitting in a corner office.

TRUST, CONFIDENCE, AND COOPERATION

Team building is face-to-face interaction with the “others,” people from your company you’ve hear about, but avoid to keep your department “independent.” But team building breaks down any notion of doing things on your own; trusting others creates cooperative bonds and builds confident relationships on and off the job.

Tackle Silo Mentality with Unique Team Building

Unique Team Building provides single or multi-day experiences for large and small groups. From chef challenges, bushwalking and hiking to corporate headshots, conference icebreaker events and city sightseeing, our goal is your focus on creating a positive work environment for a productive team and stronger company. Set your sights on a lasting learning experience; contact us for more information and our current event schedule.

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