The single biggest hindrance to corporate growth.
Silo Mentality is a well-known phrase in the business sphere. First coined by Phil Ensor in 1988, ‘functional silo syndrome’ still plagues businesses to the 21stcentury. Despite its prevalence, most businesses cannot identify it.
As defined by Investopedia: ‘Silo Mentality is a reluctance to share information with employees of different divisions with the same company’. Essentially, it defines the process in which departments hoard information to increase their overall value to the company.
Silos have been described as the “single biggest hindrance to corporate growth.”. 41% of businesses cite structure as a significant barrier to providing seamless customer experience. Businesses need to speak and act in one voice. Silos prevent this.
DESTROYING YOUR SILO MENTALITY
Silo mentality is the enemy of effective marketing, and effective business. However, there is plenty of advice out there for higher management looking to destroy their silos.
It should be noted that this mentality is the default of most organisational structure. In theory, silos would focus expertise within departments, resulting in a higher quality of work. In reality, however, they result in office politics in which departments compete more with one another than their business competitors.
Generally, the silo formation within businesses is viewed as a top-down issue, stemming from the management team. It is the business leaders and owners who allow a silo mentality to develop. Therefore, it is their responsibility to break down these barriers.
Businesses struggling with siloed departments are recommended a few key changes. Most notably, encouraging managers to create a unified vision and foster collaboration by setting common goals. Suggestions also include improving communication and team training.
BUT, HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY DO IT?
A clearly communicated vision, a little restricting & shift in mindsets coupled with consistency and discipline is all it takes to tackle silo mentality. At least, that’s what the majority of columnists and commentators claim.
Of course, the actual reality is never quite so simple and neat. It might be easy to identify the issues. However, putting the structures in place to correct them is often a long and time-consuming task.
CHALLENGING SILOS AT 8 NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE
At 8 Northumberland Avenue, we have a particularly unique view on the issues that silo mentality causes. We work daily with our chosen partners AlchemyLive and Blue Hut Productions. As well as our sister restaurant Boyds Grill & Wine Bar.
Within these companies, we have marketing, sales, accounts, HR, coordinators, operations, kitchen, AV and front of house departments. To deliver outstanding events that meet every client’s needs, it is essential we are working in harmony.
Due to the nature of our business, we employ industry specialists in each department, those who are the absolute best of the best when it comes to their specialisation. However, this can also lend itself to the growth of silos as specialists will often isolate their work within their own departments.
HOW WE AVOID SILO GROWTH
A key part of our strategy to avoid the growth of silos is communication. In particular, we focus this communication on workflow and information flow.
Our experience informs us that managing expectations is vital to ensure good working relationships between departments. Different departments have widely different working hours. Our event managers, for instance, work in shift-based patterns, which contrasts to our 9-5 sales team. Proper communication between departments means that issues around different workflows and priorities are less likely to occur.
Team building exercises are also a key part of our strategy to avoid the growth of departmental silos. In particular, we leverage the use of ‘Insights Discovery’. This tool allows us to better understand our employees’ personalities, and how they work with each other. Discovering how we collaborate in these sessions then translates into the working environment. We’ve found this vastly improves departmental communication.
A key change we have introduced recently to foster departmental collaboration relates to our preeminent Christmas parties. Our Christmas Parties are something we are especially proud of; we begin planning these over a year in advance.
Previously, project management of our Christmas theme would be handled mostly by one employee, using feedback from other departments. This process would occasionally leave some departments feeling a lack of autonomy over the event. Despite that, the end result for our clients remained outstanding.
After reviewing our practice, we introduced a new panel. A member of each department is selected to give their expert advice. Each expert can provide advice and be representative of their department’s views and concerns.
Each department feels like they have a voice and ownership over the project. Getting idea buy-in from the business becomes far more efficient as everyone works towards a common goal.
SILO MENTALITY AND SENIOR MANAGEMENT
Another key way in which we avoid silo mentality growth is through the attitude of our Senior Management team.
For silos to be effectively dismantled, senior managers are becoming consultants offering guidance. As opposed to being the ones delivering everything themselves. Giving each department responsibility for projects means working together becomes the solution to any issues that arise.
An example of this practice is particularly evident in the planning for our New Year’s Eve party. Much like our Christmas theming, a departmental panel is now responsible for the event.
When team members come up with new ideas, they are welcomed and encouraged. This way of working demonstrates to employees that senior management trusts them and their decisions. Avoiding senior managers taking accountability away from employees fosters collaboration between departments, especially in team panels. Departments do more than just action the will of top management. We work to create departments that have the ability to improve themselves.
THE END OF SILO MENTALITY?
The road to dismantling silos within an organisation of any size is a long and arduous one. Some may question whether it is worth making the effort at all. Nevertheless, the failure to remove silos will result in a business losing people, opportunities and efficiency. The loss of silos is vital for the success of a business.
Despite this, departments will continue to work independently from one another. Whilst some element of silo mentality can produce great creativity and innovation within departments. Managers should remain vigilant to prevent the return of the silos that threaten to hinder and prevent growth.
Nurturing and supporting employees is the only way to facilitate growth. Focusing first on their development will kickstart the process to employees having a proactive attitude towards the business.
If you're looking for a team who work seamlessly to deliver your event vision, email Olivia today.