Silos. No, not the kind that you see on the farm. I’m addressing the ones you see in the workplace. They really come in all shapes and sizes. However, it’s the group of people you always see together. You might see them walking campus and going to lunch together, sharing ideas… but only with each other. I have to ask, how does that behavior help an organization, department, or even an employee grow? According to an article in Fast Company, Neil Seth says, “Every company is split into divisions, departments, or groups, such as sales, technology, and finance. This structure allows expertise in different areas. In companies, silos tend to be places where information, focus (another word for choosing priorities), and control flow up and down. But company silos also cause problems—that same structure prevents the flow of information, focus, and control outward. And in order for a company to work efficiently, decisions need to be made across silos.”
Imagine, for one moment how your department could benefit from you knowing many people across the organization. Or, from you creating a group conversation within your department when you have a good idea. As, Neil Seth points out, Silos aren’t bad, they’re something that happens when you create departments. However, that shouldn’t be an excuse to not network and not know how other departments are doing things. More importantly, it shouldn’t be an excuse not to share your ideas with everyone in your department. We, yes, you and me, have to take the steps needed to ensure that we haven’t created a silo within our own department.
Here are two things that you can do to foster non-silo like conversations within a department and also cross-departmental.
1. When in a public area like the community kitchen, stop and say hello to someone. Again, engage them in a small conversation about their job.
2. Within your department encourage the sharing of ideas. Reward and recognize people who are helping the department grow by fostering open communication across the university.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with going to lunch with the same group of people every week. There’s only something wrong with that situation if you’re brainstorming ideas for your department or organization and not sharing it with other people.
Go, share, and allow your conversation to move things forward!