What are “Organizational Silos” (and How Can Human Resources Stop Them)?

An organizational silo is a tight group of employees that forms within your larger workforce. You could think of it like a high school clique – members within the silo normally work together really well, but they often clash with other people outside their own group.

Organizational silos can be dangerous, because while the silo might produce great results as a team, they may be less invested in wider company goals and objectives. This makes them very difficult to spot, because on the surface, it can look like the silo is just a group of really dedicated employees! So from your position in Human Resources, take a moment to analyze the social movements of your workforce.

It doesn't matter whether you employ 5 people or 500 – organizational silos can form in any organization. It pays to learn how to stop them.

How Organizational Silos Form

In order to stop organizational silos, you first need to understand how they form. It's worth noting that a silo could be a small handful of people within a team, or it could be an entire department – or even office.

Organizational silos start forming when employees develop a greater loyalty for their group, than they have for their employer. As this group trust grows, members can begin to be less trusting of people on the “outside”.

Four Things to Do Right Now to Stop Organizational Silos Forming

While trust within groups is a good thing, distrust for the rest of the workforce is not. And because silos can go unnoticed for a long period of time, the best way to tackle them, is to put measures into place that stop them forming in the first place. So here are four things you can do right now.

  1. Promote Company Values. While each team within your business has their own agenda, their goals should be aligned with the overarching values of your organization. So make sure you clarify these values, and promote them throughout your entire business.
  2. Work to Beat Competitors – Not Each Other. While a little competitive spirit can do wonders for productivity, too much can be dangerous. Instead of pitting different sales teams against each other, for example, encourage the entire department to work towards beating an outside competitor.
  3. Encourage Interdepartmental Interaction. It's great if you can get different departments working on projects together. This helps promote trust and teamwork between different people with different job roles. If you don't have a project for multiple departments to work on, instead encourage them to interact with each other regularly. For example, at People, we encourage our sales team to practice their pitches with people in finance, or customer service, or marketing.
  4. Do Things Together as a Company. Whether it's a seasonal celebration at New Year, or a summer holiday to Spain, you should organize events that get the whole workforce involved. You could even organize work-related events for your whole team – such as putting your company forward for an award, and taking everybody to the ceremony.

You can start doing all of this right now. There's no point waiting until you already have silos operating across every inch of your workforce – because by then, the damage is already taking its toll, and the effects will be harder to reverse.

Guest Author: Satsindhar, MD at peoplehr.com