Silos exist in almost every organization because every organization divides labor into departments. There is a natural defensiveness that encircles each department to protect the labor it produces.
Three suggestions on how to break down silos:
1. Develop a unified vision. This vision should remind everyone of the true purpose of the organization. Every organization has its products and services, but the true purpose is the result of what the products and services will do for the customer. For example, if the company sells home security systems, the true purpose of the organization is to make people feel safe in their homes and deliver peace of mind. Reminding employees on a daily basis that the real purpose of doing their work is to give the customer “peace of mind”, it takes away some of the individual focus factor and centers on the customer.
2. Promote internal customer service. Each employee should think of the person or department they deliver their work to – as their customer. The unified vision should also be applicable to that internal customer. Using the example above of the security system company having the true purpose of delivering “peace of mind”, this can be applied to each employee looking to give “peace of mind” to their internal customer through being responsive, accurate, timely, helpful, informative, and friendly.
3. Motivate teamwork. Take a look at your incentive plans within the organization. Do the set goals of one department sabotage the ability of another department to meet their goals? Incentivizing competition within an organization is a great way to motivate employees but make sure that the end result is to deliver to the customer what was promised. By promoting teamwork to meet the customers’ needs and wants, pride in the organization becomes a key factor that all departments will want to uphold.
My recommendation is to hold meetings between departments that are customers and suppliers to each other most frequently and prompt regular discussions on how they can help each other to deliver to the external customer what has been promised.