Banishing Business Silos: Building a Successful, Thriving Organization

Do you work for or lead a company that has an “us versus them” mentality—department against department or employees against leadership? Often this kind of culture is the result of a business silo mentality. The concept of organizational silos has been around for decades. According to Investopedia, it refers to divisions within a business that operate independently and avoid sharing information. While the natural order of a company has team members fitting together logically within a department, that doesn’t mean that divisions should form, inevitably preventing them from aligning on goals and working together to achieve them. Failing to identify and remove silos can lead to many negative consequences that impact both the internal and external workings of a business.

Ideas, innovation and progress are stifled.

When team members are kept separate, ideas and innovation are stifled. Creativity and input across departments is essential to generating new ideas that fully answer the needs and desires of customers. Some of the best ideas are the result of seemingly disparate groups coming together and each sharing their unique views and expertise to solve a challenge or create something entirely unique. It’s also energizing to brainstorm with colleagues you normally don’t interact with day-to-day. It provides a fresh perspective to all.

The focus is taken off what matters most: customers, relationships, growth, sales, morale and passion.

When silos have built up within a company, the focus turns inward. There’s little to no sharing of ideas, resources, goals or information. It’s “each department for themselves.” Customer service takes a back seat to a contentious mentality, turf wars and general one-upmanship. This results in everything from lost sales and loyalty to the complete collapse of an organization. A thriving business aligns goals across all departments and promotes a culture of collaboration to the benefit of customers and its employees.

Disagreements begin to breed discontentment.

Disagreements go hand-in-hand with business silos, which breed discontentment. When the silos are torn down, disagreements will still happen and emotions will even run high at times, but it’s ok as long as people are part of a cohesive team. Sharing the same goals, they can work together to achieve them, even if it means disagreeing with each other to ultimately make a solution or product better.

Employee turnover increases.

Employees caught in business silos often don’t see the big picture or understand their role in achieving the company’s goals. This narrow view prevents them from recognizing the true value they bring to the larger organization, causing low morale, isolation and disengagement. Teams that understand their value are more satisfied on the job and less likely to jump ship and explore other opportunities.

Work quality suffers.

Business silos create a combative, unhealthy culture. It’s difficult to do your best work when you’re constantly in a battle with other departments or concerned about protecting yourself and your position. And when information isn’t readily shared among departments, solutions, products and services are developed in a vacuum, leading to poor quality and design. Ultimately, the customer experience suffers.

Overcoming business silos can be a challenge, but it’s essential to a successful, thriving organization. It begins with leadership setting the right tone and encouraging collaboration and teamwork. Try establishing goals or assigning projects that require employees from different areas and functions to work together. Ensure everyone is aligned with the company’s mission and vision. This can be achieved through internal branding efforts that bring employees together and emphasize they are all on one team, working toward the same goals. My company has even created internal branding events where employees sign a banner with the company’s values and mission. It creates a visual statement of their unity and commitment.

Step by step, a company can remove business silos and foster a culture in which employees work with, rather than against, each other. When that happens, it paves the way for greater innovation and ultimately greater success.

About The Author

Barry LaBov, a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and inductee into the Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame, is founder, president and CEO of LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training and is president of the board and a shareholder of Sycamore Hills Golf Club, both of Fort Wayne, Ind. LaBov & Beyond was founded in 1981 and has a client list that includes national and international brands in automotive, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, financial services, construction equipment, apparel and medical devices. LaBov has authored or co-authored more than a dozen business books, including The Umbrella Story series of business parables. LaBov has been published in national and international publications as well as appeared on CNBC and Fox Business channels. In addition to its Fort Wayne headquarters, LaBov & Beyond also has operations in Detroit, Phoenix and Indianapolis. His daily blog on business and leadership can be read at For editorial consideration please contact editor@jetsetmag(dot)com.

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