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How to overcome a ‘silo mentality’ to ensure growth outcomes

By Gerhard Hartman, Vice President: Medium Business, Sage Africa & Middle East

Everyone working for a large corporate is familiar with the frustrations of organisational silos.

As we adapt to a new hybrid way of working with a growing number of employees working from homes or from other offices around the world, organisational silos remain a problem that is keeping CEOs up at night! Different departments or team scannot – or do not – interact with one another. What silos end up doing is preventing the sharing of resources and information, making it impossible to build and sustain trust, transfer ideas, collaborate, and ultimately, achieve organisational goals. 

In your own daily work environment, you may have experienced this when a project you were working on for weeks was cancelled because a second department was doing something similar. Or perhaps you spent months trying to solve a crucial business issue, only to discover much later that someone on a different team has the skills or resources to solve your problem in minutes. 

If silos are such a challenge, why are they still so common in larger Middle East organisations?

Undoubtedly, breaking down boundaries within an organisation is challenging as there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem. These challenges are not about technology – although, an integrated corporate application suite might form part of the solution.

Instead, these challenges are linked to cultural issues and a lack of communication and collaboration. So, what does it take to break down organisational silos? It all starts with the three Cs: 

  1. Collaborate effectively: Through introducing collaboration tools across your business, you can help everyone in various departments to communicate better – more employees are now working remotely, which calls for an urgent adoption of collaborative technology. Through working remotely and collaboratively, employees can easily provide feedback to colleagues and managers. Doing so, fosters a culture of information and knowledge sharing. 
  • Create cross-functional teams: In creating cross-functional teams, you open up opportunities for different departments to interact and work together, thereby also ensuring shared accountability. When your team members get to know people from other teams, they’re more likely to ask one another for help because they know what skills or competencies exist within the organisation. 
  • Cultivate common goals: In establishing a shared organisation-wide goal, different individuals and teams are more inclined to collaborate because they’re working towards the same outcome. To ensure the effectiveness of this approach, communicate with each member of your team. Everyone should understand their role in achieving the desired end goal.   

View from the top  

The organisation’s leadership team must be the first to champion any effort to eliminate silos,  considering it is currently compelled to switch to new ways of working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The leadership team needs to be responsible about building a shared vision that aligns with the company’s goals and trickles down to managers and employees. Only once you’ve changed the mentality of those working within your organisation will you be able to encourage everyone to successfully and effectively work in synch. 

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