5 steps for getting rid of business silos, increasing productivity and shaping a better customer experience
According to one of Forbes’ latest publications, “silos must be broken down for successful digital transformation” (Forbes, June 21) and a better customer experience where business silos are intended as the “separation of employees based on their department or function with the organization”.
According to the Dimension Data CX Benchmarking Report (via Business 2 Community), “54% of organizations report their customer experience operations are managed in silos”. Furthermore, according to Workfront’s 2020 State of Work Report (via Business 2 Community), “87% of employees think leaders should reconsider the way they think about technology in the workplace, and 84% say businesses are missing opportunities by not moving to more modern solutions”.
What does it feel like to work in silos? You miss out on information, you work on the same targets using different, unintegrated tools and different processes, reports are shared too slowly and you don’t have access to key stakeholders. If you have experienced at least one of these situations already, you know how frustrating and unproductive this can be.
Of course, most of the time, there is no intention to actively build organizational silos and prevent resources and information from being shared among departments. However, the cost of doing redundant work, misaligning priorities and missing out on opportunities for collaboration is high and has a negative impact on your company’s bottom line.
Departmental silos are seen as a growing pain for most organizations of all sizes. The faster you react to silos, the better for motivation, teamwork and productivity. The larger an organization becomes, the harder silos are to bust.
So how do you start the move from silos to systems thinking, increase motivation and boost productivity? Look at these five strategies that will help to promote a collaborative and cross-functional environment:
- 1 Establish a clear vision, common goals and systems thinking
In order to understand and manage all components, people, technologies and processes, systems thinking considers the organization as a whole.
It is imperative that the leadership team agrees to a common and unified vision for the entire organization. Once all stakeholders shift towards a clear and shared vision, the majority of problems caused by the ripple effects of silos will be automatically reduced. Seeing the ‘big picture’ will help the organization to recognize the interconnections between the teams for a unified view and implement processes and technologies which go beyond silos. And “there is nothing more powerful in an organization than having all employees rowing fiercely in the same direction” (Forbes, Brent Gleeson).
- 2 Create cross-functional teams
Once the organization shares the same common goals, departments need to encourage the rise of mediators and facilitators who act interdepartmentally. These roles are responsible for encouraging communication and transparency among departments. Fostering communication and collaboration will lead to closer working relationships, which will ultimately encourage resource sharing.
- 3 Collaboration across roles, hierarchies and departments
Silos in the workplace affect everyone, regardless of a team member’s role and pose a significant barrier to providing a seamless customer experience. Actively encouraging collaboration is a common habit of high-performing organizations. If you’re worried your lack of cross-functional communication could lead to silos, work with leaders across teams and departments to develop a plan to significantly improve knowledge sharing. Executives will need to work together to encourage employees to adopt collaborative processes and technologies.
- 4 Make use of technology to improve communication and access to information
Make use of technology to help with collaboration and the sharing of knowledge. Collaboration and communication tools have been proven to improve productivity.
Improved data management, sharing and storage can have a huge positive impact. These things are vital if you want to develop a streamlined way in which employees can access the information they need, when they need it. Real-time communication plays a crucial role in reducing silo mentality in the workplace. There are all kinds of real-time communication tools available to your business, such as instant messaging, voice calls, video conferencing, and much more. Plus, using this technology now means that different employees, teams and departments can communicate in real time from any location.
When both data sharing and communication are improved, they do wonders for collaborative efforts in your workplace. Local and remote teams can now work on projects in unison, while managerial duties become far easier to fulfill.
Becoming a truly collaborative organization takes time, but the effort leads to improved productivity, happier employees and a better experience for customers.
- 5 Track performance and have incentive programs in place
Empowerment and accountability are key to succeed in overcoming a silo-based culture in your organization. Track performance and offer incentives to enable businesses to reward hard work and dedication: teams will break through the silo and will perform better as a unit.
It is not an easy task to break down silos, however, persistence and commitment are key to any transformation effort. Organizations are under pressure to improve efficiency, reduce costs, improve time-to-market and beat the competition.
A clearly communicated vision, systems thinking, having the right technology in place as well as consistency and discipline will help to change mindset and break down business silos for productivity and ultimately a better customer experience.