Breaking Down Silos In The Workplace

In today’s workplace, we are more connected than ever. Between emails, direct messages, phone calls, videos class, and countless other methods of communication, you can talk to anyone instantly. Yet despite that, silos in the workplace are still a common issue. 

Silos at work are essentially groups of employees or teams that insulate themselves from others. Though this may not seem like a big issue at first, silos come with numerous problems. They can have negative impacts on company culture, productivity, morale, and more. Breaking down silos in the workplace is key to fostering collaboration and building a positive company culture. 

In today’s article, we’re going to take a closer look at silos at work and how to break them down. We’ll cover the basics of what silos are, strategies for breaking them down, the challenges associated with silo busting, and the role that TeamBonding can play in promoting effective and positive company culture. 

Understanding Silos in the Workplace

Before you can start breaking down silos, you need to understand what silos are and the effects they have. So let’s start there. 

In simple terms, silos are groups, teams, or segments of a business that cut themselves off from those around them. Instead of communicating with those around them, working together, and cooperating, they isolate themselves and operate independently. However, it is a bit more complicated than that. 

There are multiple different types of silos, and they can form in various different ways. For example, one type of silo is an organizational silo. 

These silos occur when businesses have too many departments and sub departments, especially those that are highly specialized. This can slow or block the flow of information, resulting in these insular groups. 

Another type of silo is the informational silo. Businesses depend on information being able to flow freely throughout the organization, and these silos form when that can’t happen.

 A common way this happens is by not having proper organization between teams and their information. A team might use a half dozen different communication and work tools. Without any sort of central organization, information can be hard to find or lost. And in turn, an informational silo is created. 

On top of that, there’s also the silo mentality. This is more of an individual thing than a team or department issue, but it’s still a problem. Employees who are burnt out, stressed, or aren’t team players can create a silo for themself. They don’t share information with those around them, try to work independently, and may even engage in disruptive behavior

All of these silos have numerous negative impacts. To start, they can harm productivity. To be as productive as possible, you want people working together and sharing information. When people bring their minds together, great things can happen. But if people are limited, whether at the team or individual level, that can’t happen. And the result is decreased productivity. 

Another impact silos can have is on morale. People want to feel like they are part of the team, and they want to feel like they are contributing to the greater good. Silos can make seeing the bigger picture difficult since your flow of information and communication is limited. That can decrease morale, which has numerous negative impacts on its own. 

Lastly, they can also harm the company culture. You want your culture to be positive, a place where people can communicate freely, share their thoughts, and feel like they’re being heard. But again, silos can prevent those things. Silos can result in toxic behaviors that lead to a toxic work environment, bringing down the entire organization. 

silos in the workplace

Strategies to Break Down Silos at Work

Now that we’ve covered the basics of silos, let’s move onto how you can break down silos at work. Breaking down silos can seem tough, but these strategies will help you through the process. 

As with many things in the workplace, communication is a good start. One of the key hallmarks of silos is that teams or individuals don’t communicate with those around them, so communication is key in breaking down silos. 

Encouraging open communication can make a huge difference. Make sure employees know that communication is encouraged. They should feel comfortable communicating with others, sharing their ideas, and asking questions. Go out of your way to ensure people get their voices heard, and inventive open communication. 

Tying into that, promoting cross-departmental collaboration is another great strategy. It’s much easier for a team to build a silo if they rarely have to communicate or collaborate with other departments. Again, encourage and incentivize people to work with other departments. You could even consider having different teams team up for projects, forcing them out of their silos. 

The key though is that you get different teams, groups, and departments collaborating. Simply working with those around you and in different parts of the organization can have a big impact on silos in your company. 

Celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion is another great strategy for breaking down silos in the workplace. When you encourage diversity and inclusion, people see the value in everyone’s differences and what they all bring to the table. That can directly encourage more collaboration and communication, which can greatly reduce silos. 

Lastly, team-building activities that foster trust and camaraderie can be an effective way to break down silos. These events and activities can help get people to open up, trust each other, and be proud of their team/organization. That can make a huge difference when it comes to silos and helps people see the importance of working together. 

An event like Breaking Barriers for example can help people get more comfortable leaving their comfort zones through identifying insecurities and goals, which can help them tear down silos. There are lots of great team building activities out there for all shapes and sizes of teams and organizations, so be sure to consider them. 

administrative professionals day

Overcoming Challenges in Silo Busting Efforts

All that said, breaking down silos at work doesn’t come without its challenges. Like any big change in the workplace, there will be hurdles to overcome. So let’s look at a few of them so you’re more prepared to deal with them as they come. 

One common challenge is a lack of support from leadership. In the workplace, people tend to follow by example. So if their leaders aren’t willing to break down silos, the employees likely won’t be either. 

To address this, you need to unify leadership. A great way to do this is through establishing common goals and looking at the bigger picture. By looking at the bigger picture, leaders can start to see the problems created by silos and the necessity of tearing them down. And through establishing common goals, they can come together to address silos and help the business succeed. 

Another challenge people often face is simply keeping their efforts going over time. Just because you’ve started to tear down silos or finished tearing them down doesn’t mean your work is over. Silos can easily pop up again, and you need to make sure your efforts are ongoing.

A good way to deal with this is by making your changes the new standard. For example, if you’re encouraging communication between departments, keep it going. Make it standard operating procedure that departments communicate regularly. This can make your silo busting strategies part of the day-to-day, preventing them from coming back. 

How TeamBonding Can Help Break Down Silos

Before wrapping, we’d like to cover how TeamBonding can help break down silos. As a team building organization, we have helped numerous organizations eliminate silos through team building activities that help facilitate collaboration and break down barriers. 

To illustrate, let’s look at one of our events, The Big Picture. In this event, small teams work together to create canvas paintings which are then pieced together into a large mural. This event encourages teamwork and collaboration within teams, as well as across various teams to coordinate a satisfying end result. In doing so, this event can help tear down silos and encourage a more collaborative company culture. 

The Big Picture is a popular event chosen by many companies and organizations. Here’s what the American Heart association had to say about the event:

“This was an excellent team bonding experience. Collaborating within your group and with other groups to find matching sections, as well as the overall group, to coordinate teams to create and supply various paint colors–it was great fun! Our mural turned out to be a vibrant work of art! Very well done! I would recommend this awesome activity without hesitation. Thank you for a great experience!”

And that’s just one event. We have plenty of other events such as the Domino Effect that can help you break down silos. If you’re looking to break down silos, TeamBonding is one of the best options available. 

silos in the workplace

Bring Your Team Together with TeamBonding

Despite living in a time when people are more connected than ever, silos are still a problem. They can limit productivity, collaboration, and harm your company culture. However, you can break down silos and build a strong company culture by encouraging communication, promoting cross-department collaboration, celebrating diversity, fostering inclusion, and utilizing team building. 

If you’re ready to take action and break down the silos in your workplace, look no further than TeamBonding. We have over 20+ years of experience putting on team building events, and we have a wide variety of events perfect for breaking down silos in the workplace. So get in touch with us today and start building a better company culture with TeamBonding.

Anna Webber

Team Contributor

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