How Silo Culture Make Scaling Your Business Challenging

Dana Youngren
Dana Youngren
3 mins
plant growth shows what can happen when you break down silo culture

The sky is blue, the grass is green, and every member of the C-suite wants to grow their business. Some things in life are universal truths that will never change. But along with all the desirable effects of businesses growth comes new challenges, and those challenges are compounded by the silo culture that forms as departments expand and gain new members.

When your business first began, it was smaller, with fewer employees, and having fewer employees required everyone to wear many hats. Your marketing team may have helped with sales calls, your sales team may have provided customer service, your CFO may have handled HR, and so on. The benefit of this is that close proximity and departmental collaboration means everyone understands and appreciates the role others play in the company, and everyone likely grasps the big picture.

Growing your business is challenging enough; the C-suite must work to maintain company culture while scaling, keep up with the market, and balance time and resources. But on top of that, as your company grows, employees’ roles become narrower and more specialized, and departments begin to form stricter borders. At this point, companies are at the highest risk of developing a silo culture, thereby blocking knowledge flow, halting collaboration, and putting a damper on your company’s growth potential.

The Cost of Silo Culture

The growing pains of scaling often revolve around a lack of access to processes, procedures, and documents across each department. Employees are unable to effectively coordinate their projects across departments and maintain consistent brand messaging to the public. Not only does this information isolation negatively affect customers and prospects, but it also hurts your new hires. Silo culture causes a lag time between when a new employee is hired and when they are self-sufficient, productive, and profitable.

As an example, let’s follow the journey of a new hire in a growing company. We’ll call him Bob. Bob has been hired as a sales representative who will be selling electric toothbrushes. He must become an expert on everything about the electric toothbrush in order to perform well. What demographics purchase electric toothbrushes? What are the pain points of manually brushing one’s teeth? What features does this particular toothbrush offer that its competitors lack? Fortunately, all of this information lives in the minds and emails of Bob’s coworkers across various departments. Unfortunately, Bob is not a mind reader.

Bob’s company lacks a central and searchable location for the documents, processes, and procedures that new hires require, and information can’t flow freely across the company. On top of that, they have a disorganized and almost non-existent training method. As a result, it takes Bob four months to become a fully trained and productive member of the electric toothbrush selling team. Imagine the benefit to the company had Bob actually been selling toothbrushes for those four months, as he was hired to do. Now, imagine it’s not one new hire, but twenty.That’s a lot of wasted time, money, and productivity.

Employers must make a conscious effort to ensure employees are connected across all departments within the company in order to continue to improve business while scaling. The key to connecting employees across growing departments is a single, central, accessible location for company knowledge, documents, procedures, etc.  To overcome internal silos as you grow your business, search for a knowledge management solution with features that will unify your employees and departments, not divide them.

Growing your business is exciting and worth celebrating, so don’t let silo culture stand in the way of scaling your company successfully. The right tools and strategies to keep employees connected and collaborating will send your company on its way to selling more electric toothbrushes than ever imaginable.

April 12, 2017

Harness The Power Of Knowledge Sharing With Digital Transformation

Companies that grasp what the digital workplace is really all about are willing to change the ways people and applications connect across their organizations. By fostering a digitally driven culture of collaboration, they break down silos, share knowledge more effectively and compete more successfully.

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