When was the last time you interacted with colleagues who aren't on your team since the pandemic began?
Gone are the lunches at the pantry, water cooler talks, or break time at the lounge and breakout area -- where you can strike up a conversation with someone from a different department without being conscious of social distancing. Gone are the days when you can see how a certain department works before your own eyes.
According to Microsoft, organizations have become even more siloed because of the shift to remote work.
It means individual team members only interact with their immediate superiors and their closest co-workers, losing contact with their broader network of colleagues. Or worse, working alone as one man on an island.
The COVID-19 pandemic was akin to a game of 'the boat is sinking', where people formed themselves into smaller groups and bubbles. The crisis further widened what was already a problem for many companies in the past.
While employees had to form silos to survive the lockdown at first, they can be detrimental to the organization as a whole.
With a siloed organization, teams withhold data that should have otherwise been disseminated quickly to drive faster results. Here are some of the negative impacts of silos on your organization:
Lost productivity. Time, resources, and manpower are wasted when information does not flow freely from one team to another. Processes go through bottlenecks and delays. Let's say the Marketing team needs to track data about customer preferences for its next project. The Sales department already has the needed information, but Marketing ends up researching from scratch anyway. This is because inter-team communication isn't normalized within the organization.
Lack of morale. Silos can lead to resentment among different teams and departments because they perpetuate a "we vs. them" mentality. It is demotivating for any employee to be in an environment where there is constant blaming, credit-grabbing, and gossiping. It can cripple your organization since time is wasted on internal problems instead of providing services.
Fragmented customer experience. Sadly, the lack of a coherent and unified goal in an organization can reflect on customer interaction. Let's use the Marketing - Sales interaction. The Sales department could be offering something in a way that deviates from the style, tone, and personality of the company, as dictated by the Marketing team. Customers want consistency when it comes to the services they avail. Whether an output was created by your team or the other department does not matter. The output itself does.
In an agile workplace, teams have no problem communicating with each other, information is disseminated rapidly and seamlessly, and an organization drives better results.
While breaking silos is a cultural shift that requires effort and a renewed push for communication, leaders can start through the help of technology.
Use only one messaging channel. The HR Department may be using Skype, the IT team on Discord, and Marketing on Viber. This is not ideal for an organization that should be communicating with one another. Organizations should even be opening up bigger groups where company updates are regularly shared, and where a newly-hired fresh grad can access what the executives are saying.
Open up access to information. Information should be there when a team or department needs it. Digital leaders can start by centralizing and integrating data through software application/s shared by all teams. Leaders can harness the power of technology to bring documents, plans, and projects to shared platforms.
Embracing a hybrid workplace setup. According to Microsoft's study, team isolation was rampant when New Zealand was in lockdown. But the situation improved when people began going to work. The same trend was observed in other countries such as South Korea. While working from home will be here to stay, organizations have the option to embrace hybrid workplaces, giving employees the chance to interact with others.
Starting with the leaders, down to the team members. Yes, organizations become siloed because of their leaders. This happens when leaders fail to communicate a shared vision for the organization -- if there is any at all. It could be a power struggle among executives that are alienating teams from each other, competition for resources, or maybe employees were allowed to become too loyal to their team instead of the organization as a whole.
Whatever the reason, the responsibility to connect different teams and organizations rests mostly on the shoulders of leaders.
Leaders should know how to become better communicators, not just to their respective teams, but to fellow leaders and the organization as a whole.
But how do leaders communicate better when everyone is so far apart and scattered because of remote work?
It can be overwhelming to think about technology, digital transformation, and
digital leadership. But with Prevo, you have a head start.
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