Does it ever feel as though there’s a riff in information sharing within your organization? If this is the case, you may be experiencing information silos. When these silos exist, a barrier is created that prevents the free flow of information throughout a company.
These silos are usually created unintentionally by organizations who may not even realize they’ve built them. They can be a result of organizational hierarchy or a divide between functional groups. No matter the size of these silos, they can hold an organization back from succeeding in an already competitive landscape, and they can also have a detrimental effect on employee engagement and trust.
Identifying and addressing existing information silos is the most important aspect of breaking them down. The first signals are often miscommunication errors, including limited awareness of projects, duplications, and overall unawareness of what is happening within an organization. These signals wind up leading to the most damaging issue that silos create—a misalignment of company goals.
Breaking down information silos in the workplace is not an easy process, but when the right steps are taken, this issue can be resolved and a stronger unified workplace will arise.
How To Break Down Information Silos
Shift Employee and Manager Mindsets
For many managers, the root cause of these silos stems from a need to feel in control of every minute aspect of the business. Employees can easily view this micromanagement as a lack of trust.
If these managers shifted to a less controlling management style, employees would feel more comfortable openly communicating. A unified vision prevents conflicting departmental goals and establishes trust and empowerment from the managerial level.
When everyone is working toward the same goals and objectives, the work that results from this is often very impressive. For many organizations, bringing in an outside consulting group can help break this closed-off mindset and create a unified strategy throughout the organization. Shifting out of the silo mindset can also be beneficial for managers and employees when completing projects within their department because it ensures they remember the bigger picture their work is contributing towards.
Encourage Cross-functional Collaboration
When information silos exist, communication is often cut off across different departments and levels. This can create a ripple effect between individual employees and different projects. Setting up cross-collaborative opportunities that include all levels and departments in the organization can greatly decrease the presence of information silos. Additionally, this can have a strong effect on productivity. One recent study revealed that companies that encourage collaborative work are five times more productive than their competition.
An increased effort to communicate and collaborate helps employees show off their skill sets and highlight their potential for upper-level managers to see. Training programs can be a great environment for this, where collaborative initiatives are encouraged. These practices must remain consistent and happen regularly to yield success beyond the short-term.
Establish Unified Communications
Many organizations use several communications tools throughout the company. This tends to create chaos and confusion, often amplifying the negative effects of information silos. By implementing a unified communications system, an organization can simplify how information moves throughout the company and encourage cross-department communication.
Unified communications platforms help to not only reduce the number of communication tools your company uses, but they also make switching between each of your communication channels easier, as they will all be accessible from the same application.
A single communication system also makes it easier for accessing employees at all levels of the company when needed. This is particularly beneficial for remote workers to stay in touch with their in-office counterparts. As the remote workforce continues to grow, it’s important to find solutions that keep them engaged and informed, or else new information silos could form.
Implement Interdepartmental Liaisons
Managers should host regular status meetings to ensure that cross-collaboration and information sharing is happening. For large organizations, this can be difficult to manage. One way to combat this issue is to elect departmental liaisons. Particularly, individuals that are unbiased and willing to help bridge any gaps that may exist in the communication across the organization.
Everyone needs to work as a cohesive unit to create the most success. You can create an interdepartmental communication strategy by inviting these liaisons to other meetings and calls that exist outside of their established liaison meetings.
For example, a production team member could greatly benefit by sitting in on a sales call with a prospective client. This would allow this member to give their team the information they need to better perform their job.
Avoid Coming Off Too Strong
Implementing these methodologies into an organization should be completed in stages. While it’s essential to break these silos, it’s also important not to do so too hastily because this could cause further problems. Managers must work with the entire organization to create a well- established and unified vision.
About the Author: Leanne Conrad enjoys writing within a number of business spaces—from recruiting and staffing to marketing automation and SaaS technologies. As a communications expert, she writes to share her insights on the multitude of ways that businesses can improve how they collaborate and share information.