Silos are a well-known head ache for many managers and leaders in organisations today. Silos are often inward and individualistic.
Therefore, they prevent collaboration and co-operation, and hold back progress in forwarding new initiatives and strategies.
In short, if your organisation wishes to progress, then you must break down your silos.
Over my next three blogs, I’m going to explore the prevalence of silos and present some easy and cost effective ways of breaking them down to encourage co-operation, better morale and team working.
Breaking down silos – an easy first step to take
I used this approach with two teams who shared the same service manager, worked with the same service users BUT never the twain did meet! In fact, both teams harboured a deep suspicion and distrust of the other (I’ll talk more about this in my next blog!).
This attitude had a negative effect on the daily lives of the team members, their managers, the policy makers, and the public who were using the service.
Although obvious, breaking up a silo can take one simple and effective action:
Invite people to a get together!
The first time that people get together with others from outside their silo can be a BIG DEAL. It needs to be set up well and then handled well. Otherwise, you could actually help to further entrench the silo mentality.
So, here are the NINE STEPS for a Good Get Together:
- Make sure the content and tone of the invite is comfortable and non-threatening.
- Find a trusted facilitator who is experienced with Silos, has excellent rapport skills and can think on his/her feet if things go pear shaped!
- Find a venue on neutral ground away from both work spaces
- Make sure that the venue:
- Is well stocked with tea/coffee and biscuits
- Has natural light as well as good ventilation
- Has plenty of space to move around
- Is equally accessible for all.
- Mix up your silos – make sure that people are not all sitting in the same silo. You can do this, for example, by asking people on arrival to sit around the table that displays the month of their birthday.
- Make sure the content is interactive
- Get people involved in an activity; not role play, but something as simple as an active listening exercise, whereby a person listens and summarises back what they heard. Find a way where people can talk about the job they do, why they do it, what draws them to the work they do and the people they work with.
- Devise some shared goals which unite them. Get them to discuss the key issues and problems facing their team as whole, and come up with some shared actions which move to an end goal.
- Start in the morning, finish in the afternoon but in the middle of the day, use FOOD. Yes. USE FOOD. The fuddle, to be precise.Fuddle is a term I have pinched from my time in Yorkshire. It’s a combination of “food” and “muddle”. Every one brings something to eat and share. Everyone helps lay it out. Then everyone dives in.That simple task of organising and eating together will be more effective than most away day activities and will continue the process of breaking down the silos.
Building on that..
This is just the first step in a long process – silos can sometimes take years to build so you have to be patient to unpick them. My next blog, Silos 2: Created not Born, recommends another step you can take to break your silos down even more. Click here to read it.
Silos are so prevalent that I’ve created a Knowledge Pack about them for the leaders I work with. Download this free gift, “Everything you need to know about silos”.