Collaboration is crucial for the success of your organization. The benefits of effective collaboration in the workplace are enormous as are the risks you face if you let the silo mentality set in.

Collaboration is a lot more than just divvying up tasks…

In part one of the series on ‘Break Down Silos and Spark Collaboration’, I discussed the many pitfalls of working in silos, how we can overcome these barriers to collaboration, and bring in a much-needed cross-functional collaboration.

To dive a little deeper, in this second part, let’s take a look at what causes organizational silos and understand how you can create value by adopting a collaborative culture in the workplace.

In the last two years, every one of us has had to deal with different forms of work-life pressure. In some cases, this has caused engagement with other team members to take a hit, bringing down employee happiness and productivity.

Further, this can even hamper the performance levels of employees more than you can imagine. Reports revealed that companies that have made collaborative initiatives a part of their work culture are five times more likely to be high-performing than those that fail to do so.

While the benefits of a collaborative culture are many, to be able to break down silos and achieve collaboration across the organization — you need to tackle the problem at its roots. What causes a silo mentality and how does it creep into the business environment?

Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Tackling the root cause: What creates a silo mentality?

Silo mentality can be defined as an isolated mindset.

A silo mentality in an organization will result in pockets of information that end up dividing teams.

Take, for instance, your product teams — if they choose to work in silos and disregard the need to share insights and updates on product developments, your sales team might be going to market with stale information.

Now think of it this way — if your sales team works together with your product and marketing teams, passing on important customer insights and feedback to them — you will be able to roll out products and campaigns that drive in your customers more than ever before.

In this tweet, Sameena Safdar Kluck, Innovation Evangelist, National Speaker & Author says silo mentality is the real talent killer and I couldn’t agree more.

We’ll now run by the common causes of organizational silos:

  1. Unclear goals: In the absence of a clear underlying vision, teams that are not working towards the larger goals of an organization, end up being driven by function-specific goals — hindering collaboration to a great extent.
  1. Unhealthy competition: In my years in the industry, I have realized that competitiveness breeds a silo mentality among teams, stifling collaboration. Let me be clear here — healthy competition is great, but the minute teams start hoarding information and stop sharing knowledge, they kill any chance for collaboration.
  1. Conflicting leadership: Power struggles between team leaders and senior folks is another reason that makes room for a silo mentality. Team leaders may disagree on a strategy, which happens often in workplaces. But the problem arises when this conflict trickles down, causing unrest among larger teams and individuals — further putting forth a whole new set of hurdles to collaboration.
  2. Lack of communication: When clear and flexible communication channels are missing — confusion sets in and silos thrive. Organizations need to embrace a more digital culture where poor communication tools are replaced with effective sharing and collaboration tools. A recent study by Gartner revealed that nearly 80% of employees used collaboration tools for work in 2021.

The solution: A shift in the mindset

If you ask me, mindset is everything. It’s time we stop blaming the culture and start creating the change.

Leadership teams need to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the narrative behind what you’re trying to achieve as an organization. Make it a point to let your teams know the ultimate benefits of tearing down silos and embracing collaboration in the workplace.

We often tend to reason out the lack of cross-functional collaboration by blaming it on immature employees and their inability to work together as a team. Instead of letting resentment set in between teams, try to find a solution that encourages collaboration and make sure this solution is realistic and scalable.

5 key business benefits of building a collaborative workforce

According to reports, high-performing employees spend an equal amount of time working individually (45%) as well as collaborating with other team members (45%).

Source: Zippia

Apart from top-notch performance, the benefits of team collaboration are multifold! Let’s run by a few of them:

  1. Drives innovation: When teams come together and collaborate, you make room for new, vibrant, and innovative ideas. Collaboration taps into the ‘the power of many’ — where, when more people and different perspectives are brought to the table, innovative ideas are born.
  2. Increases business velocity and profitability: When you have a collaborative work culture at the core of your organization, it accelerates your capabilities to create value and speeds up your time to market considerably. Eventually, this helps your business move forward, greatly impacting the overall profitability of your organization.
  3. Improves employee engagement and retention rates: Collaboration brings in the spirit of camaraderie among your teams and takes up employee engagement levels like no other tactic. With highly engaged employees, you’re sure to see higher retention rates. Additionally, with a happier workforce and fulfilling work environment, you will soon be able to attract top talent too.
  4. Brings in the power of adaptability: With greater collaboration comes the power to cope with sudden change. Teamwork makes organizations more flexible and helps them pivot easily to meet changing customer preferences and make way for disruptive new technologies.

Collaborate to win

By now you might be all geared up to smash the organizational silos — while this might be a lengthy process, it sure is a fruitful one!

An arsenal of the right tools, a shift in mindsets, a relatable and clear underlying vision coupled with consistency and discipline will help your teams tear down the walls of silos, collaborate like never before, and row fiercely towards achieving the larger organizational goals.

For more insights on management topics and industry trends, follow me on LinkedIn.

T M Praveen is a highly accomplished global payments leader with over 20 years of experience. A veteran in the payments industry, Praveen has immense wealth of insights to share in payments innovations, emerging technologies, FinTech, and financial services.

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