Resources: 5 Considerations in helping break down siloed thinking and embrace cross-functional collaboration

A business suffering from a prevailing silo mentality can be a challenging place to work. It is likely to be characterised by turf wars, negative energy and conflict. We have set out five more key things to consider in helping to break down siloed thinking:

In his blog yesterday, our MD discussed how scaling a business requires effective collaboration across functions, teams and locations. Our focus this week is on improving teamwork and collaboration across functions, to enable business performance and growth at speed.

A business suffering from a prevailing silo mentality misses out on end-to-end opportunities and can be challenging places to work. More than ever, we are aware of the impact that challenging working environments can have on our mental health and well-being – and are striving to make our workplaces inherently healthy.

Breaking down silo mentalities is about educating everyone in the business about how the company executes, what really matters and how the decisions, actions and behaviours of individuals and teams impact up and down the value chain.

We have set out five key things to consider in helping to break down siloed thinking and embrace cross-functional collaboration.

  1. Create a unified vision and common goals
    In his book Silos, Politics and Turf Wars, Patrick Lencioni advises leaders to tear down silos by moving past behaviours which are usually symptomatic of leadership issues at the heart of the organisation. It is imperative that the leadership team agrees to a unified vision and timebound outcomes for the organisation. There must be executive buy in and commitment to the company’s long-term goals, department objectives and key initiatives prior to passing it down to the teams. A unified leadership team will encourage trust, create empowerment and break managers out of the “my department” mentality and into the “our organisation” mindset. For all employees to be rowing in the same direction, the leadership team must be highly engaged and lead by steering the boat.
  2. Work toward achieving common goals
    Once the leadership team has agreed to the over-arching goals, all members of management must then work together towards achieving the common goals before making all colleagues aware of them and helping them to understand better how they can individually contribute and make an impact in realising them.
  3. Motivate & incentivise
    Once the common goals are agreed, a good manager will be able to identify how to motivate each of their team members. Incentives will go a long way, but a wide variety of tactics including common interests, investment in training and development for individuals, shared voice and positive words of encouragement. All of these tactics will help in motivating individuals and teams and will help avoid the “it’s not my job” attitude and encourage input, teamwork, and most importantly, productivity.
  4. Execute & measure
    Once the goals are defined, it is vital they are also measured accurately. The leadership team must establish a time frame to complete the goals, identify benchmarks for measuring success and delegate specific tasks and objectives to other members of the management team. Meetings should be regularly scheduled to hold each person and team accountable against their assigned task or area of accountability as routine and constant reinforcement will help keep focus.
  5. Exchange knowledge & collaborate
    Knowledge, collaboration, creativity, and confidence are some of the key factors in creating a thriving and productive team dynamic. Cross-departmental interaction will encourage teams to develop these traits, since the exchange of knowledge and collaboration between teams is vital. Some techniques that managers can use to foster the right behaviours include reducing unnecessary long and frequent meetings, making small meeting rooms available and accessible, implementing cross-departmental knowledge sharing sessions (such as “brown bag lunches”) and encouraging constructive feedback from other departments.

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