Even with the development of new technology and software to encourage the sharing of information, organizational and departmental silos still plague many companies.
Departmental silos negatively impact efficient communication and collaboration, which are essential for company-wide alignment and cultivating a positive customer experience. While we’ve already discussed how silos can make scaling your business a challenge, as well as make life harder for your customers, you can’t tackle these issues until your organization admits you have a silo problem. A major issue for managers today is failing to notice when silos are developing right before their eyes.
Without spotting existing silos, how can a company even begin to address them?
What Is a Silo?
Organizational and departmental silos exist when employees or teams within a company do not have the software, culture or processes to share information and best practices with each other. When this occurs, employees and departments often work in isolation, which can lead to multiple internal and external issues for employees, departments, and customers.
The Danger of a Siloed Company
When silos exist within a company, they can lead to employee disengagement, inefficiency, duplicate work, and a negative customer experience.
For example, if a department within a company develops a mobile app for their company’s services and fails to consult the team or department that developed the services being offered on the company’s website, contradictions between the two channels may arise. When a company’s website and mobile app are in disagreement, it not only produces a negative customer experience, but also reflects badly on the overall efficiency and legitimacy of the company.
5 Ways to Recognize Company Silos
1. Negative Customer Experience
One of the most obvious signs your company is too siloed is the broken customer experience. For instance, if a company doesn’t have established customer support processes in place, it’s difficult to deduce where a customer is in the process. If a potential customer calls for the third time with additional questions but is treated as a first-time caller, a support rep will likely repeat information the customer has already heard, and force them to work through the same steps they have already done. This may result in a negative customer experience, which will drive customers away instead of encouraging them to continue in the process.
2. Inconsistent Branding
Inconsistent branding is another common issue among companies that are too siloed. Let’s say your regional marketing team plans and implements an email campaign to highlight new products or services, but fails to consult the corporate marketing department. This may result in the branding and messaging in the email contradicting what’s on the website and other marketing materials. If branding across channels is inconsistent, departmental silos are a likely culprit.
3. Duplicate Work
If communication is scarce within a company, there’s a good chance multiple employees are working on the same or very similar projects without knowing it. When goals for each department aren’t communicated and transparent, it’s impossible to know what projects other departments are completing. While confusing customers, duplication can also lead to inefficiency and loss of productivity. If duplication is happening within your company, look to silos as a factor.
4. Slow New Hire Training
When a new person is hired, it’s key to train them as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, take a company that sells luggage. When a new sales rep is hired, she cannot sell luggage as efficiently as a seasoned employee until she is trained on all processes, positioning, and pricing.
If a company is too siloed, new hires may take months instead of weeks to learn the company’s processes, because information and best practices are spread across multiple channels instead of living in one place. This will ultimately result in a decrease in the company’s sales.
5. Low Employee Engagement
While you may not immediately think silos are behind employee disengagement, checked out employees are often a warning sign of a disconnect between teams. When departments within a company are isolated, the team mentality that promotes unity is missing. Without this sense of togetherness, employees often feel alienated and unappreciated. These negative feelings will compound and spread, creating a disenfranchised and sometimes even hostile work environment.
Once a silo problem has been identified, the next step is to align your team around the problem and develop a knowledge sharing strategy. This will lead you towards the transparency and collaboration that’s required to beat silos.