Breaking Down Communication Silos in Your Organisation

Breaking Down Communication Silos in Your Organisation

The ‘silo syndrome’ is capable of squashing communication, hindering organisation growth, preventing collaboration, encouraging bunker mentality and killing the ability to communicate a unified vision. In order to create and maintain a positive work environment, organisations need to defeat the ‘silo mentality’ by nurturing a culture of sharing and communication, from the top-down. Let’s find out how it can be done.

Atma Godara is a business executive with extensive experience in the field of Human Resources, R&D, Computer Networks and Enterprise Resources Planning. He has worked in HR Transformation, Compensation, Rewards, Business Partnering, Talent Management, Organisation Development, and Change Management in various sectors such as Robotics, Oil & Gas, Hospitality, Heavy Industries, Consumer Electronics, Energy Management, Banking and Consulting. He is currently working in the space of HR Technology and Digital Transformation at OYO. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, Atma is a running enthusiast and a social media evangelist.

Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of working across diverse industries, ranging from R&D setup to Heavy Industries to Oil & Gas to Banking to Consulting to Robotics to Hospitality. In this time, one common thing I have witnessed is that communication is the heart of every organisation and workplace.

The importance of strong communication runs deep within a business and is one of the signs of a high-performance culture. A leader who can communicate the task to his/her team, a colleague who can communicate to another colleague and a person who can communicate to his/her manager effectively tend to get things done faster, effectively and are more successful.

Communication positively affects all facets of life. It is an essential tool in achieving productivity, operating efficiently and maintaining strong working relationships at all levels of an organisation. It helps a manager in getting things done in a more effective manner – accurate and faster. It helps employees to be engaged and motivated at work – employees experience increased morale, productivity and commitment when they can communicate up and down a company’s communication chain. Effective communication helps to mitigate conflict, builds rapport and trust between colleagues and facilitates innovation. It keeps the organisation on track.

However, communicating with someone is easy and difficult at the same time. Interestingly while effective communication can create wonders, misguided communication leads to not-so-good results. What you say is as important as how you say it. A major portion of the communication process is active listening. When you listen to understand and give your undivided attention to the other person in the conversation, half the work is already done.

While communicating anywhere (office, public place or home), evaluate communication on three parameters –

  • Am I true to myself?
  • What good will it do?
  • What will happen if I delay it?

So tomorrow, when you step into office, commute or reach back home, don’t underestimate the power of communication. It has the potential to create magic in every aspect of life (both professional and personal) and ensure success and happiness.

Today ‘working in silos’ has become one of the most commonly heard phrases in organisations – be it a global one, a conglomerate or a startup.

But what do we exactly mean by silos? Here is an apt definition by Business Directory –

The Silo Mentality is a mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce efficiency in the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of productive company culture.

The dreaded silos/structure and behavioural barriers are capable of squashing communication both horizontally and vertically, hindering organisation growth, preventing collaboration and encouraging bunker mentality. Working in silos could be detrimental to an organisation’s productivity, morale and culture itself. This could be tackled in two ways – Through technology or through change management.

1. Create Knowledge Management

It’s very important to fetch out information or knowledge from people’s minds and capture it into a document. People who prefer to work in a certain style and who are in critical positions in an organisation, can’t find time to document their knowledge. That’s where the role of the leader or the HR Business Partner comes into the picture. Schedule a time with these people, record the conversation and start documenting it before it’s too late.

2. The Clarity and Unification of Vision

Patrick Lencioni writes in his book Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars; “Silos – and the turf wars they enable – devastate organisations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardize the achievement of goals. ” He further advises leaders to remove silos by moving past behavioural issues and addressing the contextual issues that are present at the heart of the organisation. The leadership team needs to zero in on the vision of the organisation and agree on how to communicate it in simpler words. Leaders need to come out of the mindset of my business unit or my department.

3. Foster Collaboration

What we prioritize gets executed and eventually becomes the culture of the organisation. The collaboration needs to be encouraged by leaders by fostering cross-functional teams. At GreyOrange, we have formed cross-functional teams for each component which helped us in creating ownership and bringing employees from various functions and business units under one umbrella. This leads to an exchange of knowledge, co-creation, and sense of ownership for a part/component.

4. Motivate and Recognition

Once the entire knowledge is captured, a unified goal is well communicated down the line and people are set to work cross-functionally, it becomes essential to motivate employees to come out of their silos and share their knowledge and work together.

The best thing organisations can do to decrease or eliminate communication silos is to equip their employees with the tools, technologies and processes that enable them to collaborate and communicate effectively.

There is nothing more powerful in any organisation than having all employees working in the same direction to achieve a common and unified organisational goal.

Getting completely out of silos is a challenging task but by adopting the above steps organisations can bust through those silos and let the ideas and communication flow freely.


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