5 Telltale Signs of Trouble and How to Prevent Departmental Silos

By Alison Brown

5 Telltale Signs of Trouble and How to Prevent Departmental Silos

No one wants to have silos in their company, but even in my short career I’ve seen many companies that do. You need organization and structure, but at what point does structure turn to silos? It’s hard to tell when silos are forming and many times it happens right under your nose. What signs can you look for, and what can you do to help prevent silos from forming in your company?

Turnover is a red flag for cultural issues in any organization. However, by the time you realize you’ve had an increase in turnover, it’s usually too late. At Rhythm Systems, we’ve created an Employee Health Index that every employee statuses red, yellow or green weekly on their workload and stress level. The Employee Health Index isn’t going to predict turnover, but it serves as a leading indicator to measure the general happiness of your employees. What leading indicators can you use to alert you that silos are forming within your organization?

We’ve put together a list of 5 telltale signs to help get you started:

  1. You are getting blind copied on emails. – We’ve all heard the term “CYA email.”(Definition for those of you living under a rock.) In a healthy culture where everyone is aligned and working toward the same goals, you shouldn’t need to CYA.
  2. You hear the excuse “that’s not on my employee scorecard.” – Roles become more black and white, and people are more focused on doing what they need to do to get a paycheck than helping the company grow.
  3. People play the blame game.  You hear people blaming other departments for failed projects or missed deadlines.
  4. Departments don’t mingle.  At company social events, teams are huddled around socializing within their own departments.
  5. There is negative competition. – Some competition is healthy, but when competition between different teams goes too far so that people are no longer helping each other improve and reach the company goals, it begins to have a negative effect on the business.

Silos form when communication breaks down and priorities are misaligned across departments. Departmental and vertical organization is essential in every company, so you can’t get rid of the structure, but you can change the way departments communicate and align their goals. I've put together some ideas for how to prevent silos.

If you’ve started to notice a few of the signs above, here’s what you can do:

First, it’s important for every employee to understand every department’s and every team member’s role. Then, they must understand the company’s goals and how every department contributes to achieving those goals. The Rhythm software helps employees to connect the dots with its patented Strategy Connector feature by linking individual priorities to group priorities and group priorities to company quarterly goals for complete organizational alignment. 

Not only should you know how each department contributes to achieving the company’s goals, but also you should help each other get there. Sometimes it’s helpful to have an outside perspective from someone who isn’t a specialist in your area. Departments can benefit from each other by sharing information and processes. For special projects at Rhythm Systems, we’ve begun putting together cross-functional teams, which allows different perspectives from all areas of the company to influence the project. Not only does it help connect people who don’t typically work together, but we’ve also found that it helps create a better outcome since the project is being viewed from all areas.

Last but not least, don’t forget to share and celebrate successes as a company. Some of our clients have quarterly celebration meetings where they share successes from the previous quarter and goals for the next. This helps employees to understand what’s going on throughout the company, the impact each department has, and it builds momentum going into the next quarter. 

Interested in learning more about how Rhythm Systems can help you improve communication, align teams and smash silos? Call us today!

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Did you enjoy this read about organizational silos? Here are additional resources for you:


Departmental Silos: The Silent Killer (White Paper)

Creating Synergy Between Departments and Teams

How to Improve Cross Departmental Processes that Impact Multiple Teams

4 Steps to Bust Team Silos & Encourage Collaboration

Creating Synergy Between Cross Functional Teams

Departmental Silos Can Sneak Up on You: Get Your Teams Aligned

Silos Can Sneak Up On You: Get Your Departments Aligned

Aligning Business Units and Killing Silos

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