Tip of the Day

Breaking Down Your Operation’s Silos

Teamwork is important in business where complex organizations depend upon the strengths of different departments working together.  The term “silo” has come to represent individual managers and departments focused solely on their own agendas, functions, and tasks.  

The danger in having silos in your operation is that some managers have little understanding beyond a broad conception of what other managers or their departments do.  Without a keener appreciation of all elements of the enterprise’s operations, how can department heads work together as a team to understand and exceed members’ expectations?

So how does a General Manager go about breaking down silos?  Here are some suggestions:
  1. Hold regularly scheduled weekly meetings with all department heads.  These meetings allow each attendee to update others on what they are working on.  Obviously, this keeps everyone better informed and gives each a better understanding of what others do.
  2. Use the annual planning process as a team building exercise.  Many minds are better than one and often an outside view on problems can bring a fresh approach.  Read the article A Discipline of Planning for more information.
  3. Once a month have one department head lead a brainstorming session to improve their operation.  See the tip Brainstorming Sessions and Continual Process Review to see how it works.
  4. Take department heads to lunch at a nice restaurant once a quarter for socializing.  Follow the lunch with a brief presentation and Q&A session by a community or business leader. 
  5. Hold “Wow Factor” brainstorming sessions with all department heads.  Read the article Club Managers, What Have You Done for Me Lately for information about such sessions.
The Bottom Line:  The more your department heads interact with one another in formal and informal settings, the better they will understand the common challenges they face in running a high quality, customer-focused operation.  When this happens they will naturally begin functioning as a team committed to their common purpose regardless of individual function.