The Elephant in the Room Called Silo

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Having an organisational culture that emphasises ethical behaviour can cut down on misbehaviour of subordinates in the working environment. A healthy organisation must develop a culture that emphasises doing the right thing even when it is costly. This stretches down to whether leaders, starting with the CEO, consider the ethical consequences of their actions.

Silos exist in a business when a certain division, service section, operation section, business unit, or digital section do not wish to disseminate information or ideas with another units within the organisation.

When this happens, it tends to attract isolation and various problems, resulting into inefficiency in the overall operation, reduce trust, passion and morale, which will eventually hinder productivity and on the higher note organisational mission and vision. The Silo perception operates only for its own benefit and not for the benefit of the company.

Origin of Silos

Silo mindset is a disparity that exists between management and employees. If the organisation’s leadership does not permit Silos, there may not be any room for it presence. But when there’s a space, silos creep in, and when it enters, it takes a whole lot of processing to curb.

Silos begin to slow down overtime when the employees within an organisation start developing greater loyalty to their team rather than to their employer. As the internal team relationship solidifies, the trust between members of different silos decreases and make the collaboration between them less likely.

With my findings, one of the easiest and unique ways to unite people is to give them a common adversary, which motivates them to perform better collectively. In a situation where each team leader starts to create the image of adversity in the face of the people from other teams, an inner competition may arise between the teams themselves. If it is friendly and just for the sport, it may boost the performance of the whole company as all of the teams will aim to perform at the peak of their skills. However with envy and price on the line, people from the teams may try to do everything in their power to stop their rivals from winning, including minimizing contact, withholding information, trying to create conflict between the management and other teams, and so on. Constant disagreements between the leaders of different teams or departments may draw a line between their subordinates and divide them. They start to chase only the goals of their silo partners and withhold important information that concerns their other colleagues.

Obstacles in shattering Silos

When a company is evidently faced with Silos Mentality, it is very hard to break but it is possible. Mostly the common areas that are mostly challenged with silos are the operational division part of the business, which comprises the supply chains, Marketing, Business development, Digital, Creative, IT and HR, as well as the Accounting sector of the business. It is easy to allow these to develop. Operations teams are the people dealing with customers and the outside world [audience/prospective clients]; they directly generate sales, while the accountants on the other hand tend to be “the back office”. They provide financial information to management by researching and analyzing accounting data; preparing reports. The accountants do not usually interact with the customers and remain in their own department. Many of them don’t understand the field of operation in the work place; it is easier for the accountant to develop a silo mentality.

So, who is right and who is wrong? They are both wrong. It is up to leadership to ensure that the operating sides of the business understand why things are important in the back office. It is also very important for accountants to familiarize with the complexity of any business.

The Silo Upshot on the Team

Whenever these signals creep into a company, then it is obvious that the silos mentality already exists:

  • Self Complacency: a situation where certain departments or sections do not wish to share information with others in the same organization, self-satisfaction tends to play in and eventually has a gradual and cumulative effect, Change is resisted, innovation and creativity become unknown commodities. Quality deteriorates, collaboration is unproductive, morale is flat, and the vision of the company is thwarted.
  • Workplace Inefficiency: Silos mindset envisions large presence of inefficiencies in the company, thereby spending more money than you needed to in order to arrive at the same result. It further results to low morale, quality time and productivity.
  • Loss of operational performance: There is high possibility of operational loss resulting from inadequate or failed procedures, systems or policies.
  • Redundancy: Research has shown that after people in a company have witnessed redundancy happening around them, the overall performance and efficiency of the company plummets, ultimately leading to a drop in the organisation’s productivity. In many cases, redundancy can severely undermine a business’s human capital.
  • Poor communication: Once initiatives are not properly communicated within the departments or groups, then it is noteworthy that the silo mindset has taken place.

Shattering the Silo Ceiling

Breaking down the silos is not an easy task for any organisation, be it business or other ventures, however, the avoidance of these issues will be more detrimental to the employees and ultimately the overall ability to unite by any transformation effort.

According to Patrick Lencioni in his book Silos, Politics and Turf Wars; “Silos – and the turf wars they enable – devastate organizations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardize the achievement of goals.” He goes on to advise leaders to tear down silos by moving past behavioural issues and address the contextual issues that are present at the heart of the organization.

A unified leadership team will encourage trust, create empowerment, and break managers out of the “my department” mentality and into the “our organization” mentality. And the leaders must be consistent with all of their behaviours first before others will follow.

  1. Working towards a Set Goal

Many times, there are multiple tactical goals and objectives identified, but it is up to the Leadership team to remain on task and define the single, qualitative focus that is shared among them as the top priority. A clearly communicated vision, a little restructuring and shift in mindsets coupled with consistency and discipline is how the best organizations are going to thrive in the twenty-first century.

Once the leadership team has agreed to the over-arching unified vision of the organization, it is important that this team determines underlying root problems that may be causing the ripple effect of silos. Once the “GIANT” has been identified it is important that all executives and all members of management work together towards achieving that common goal and focus on how they can make an impact individually.


  1. Motivate and Incentivise

An incentive is a motivating influence that is designed to drive behaviour and motivate employees to be produce quality work

Motivation can vary across teams, and most importantly across individuals. What really defines a successful manager is one who is able to identify what key components motivate each of their employees and how to communicate this effectively to a wide-range of audiences. Once the common goal has been identified, each member of the management team must incentivize their employees accordingly. It is worthy to note that Most employees need motivation to feel good about their jobs and perform optimally.

All of the tactics described within Motivation are designed to avoid the “it’s not my job” attitude and encourage input, team work, and most importantly – productivity.


  1. Collaborate and Create

The famous quote by Francis Bacon “knowledge is power” has a very pivotal role in modern organisations. There are a few key factors in creating a thriving and productive team; knowledge, collaboration, creativity, and confidence. Without these four basic factors any team is destined to fail

4 . Execute and Measure

Just like any established goal, it is important that once this goal is defined, it is also measured accurately. The leadership team must establish a time frame to complete the common goal, benchmarks for success and delegate specific tasks and objectives to other members of the management team, and down to front line troops. Empowerment and accountability are key.

Some other ways in which Silos Mentality can be controlled or permanently avoided include ;Compensation plans, Fringe benefit, Training, Additional value, and Promotion.


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