How Process Documentation Removes Organizational Silos
March 11, 2021
What are Organizational Silos?
Many businesses, large and small, encounter issues with workers and teams creating their own processes and structures, which are self-contained and isolated from the company as a whole, often referred to as silos.
It’s very easy for SMBs to get caught in a silo mentality because there may only be a few team members and they need to play multiple roles to get things done. There often isn’t a training department or budget in place to document processes and train appropriately on them to ensure everyone knows what to do and how to do it.
Over time, many things start occurring in silos across your company that almost nobody knows about. When the proverbial left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, this can create a lot of potential problems for your business.
While management may recognize that silos are occurring within their organization, they often don’t know why, or how best to dismantle them. As an INC.com article puts it, “I can't think of many organizations out there that don't want to be more collaborative, have an aligned vision, communicate better or improve trust and accountability…However, many organizations struggle with their historical systems and structures not wanting to move away from them…
This issue is particularly impactful on SMBs where the resources it would take to readjust your processes are secondary keeping to the business financially viable.
What causes silos?
An article from Salesforce puts it best when it says, “Silo mentality begins with management. Often, divisions within an organization set goals that benefit their department but conflict with the goals of another. Each manager is focused on accomplishing their specific goals, and that focus frequently incentivizes siloed information and creates resistance to sharing it across teams.”
Teams can often find themselves competing with each other while hoarding information and best practices rather than sharing across the company. This can then continue to undermine the foundation of trust and communication between team members, leading to a vastly inefficient work landscape that’s slow to adapt, difficult to understand and functioning at sub-optimal levels.
Silo-ing impacts your bottom-line
Even though it costs resources to identify and solve for silos in your organization, the existence of silos also can cost quite a bit of resources. Silos generally have a negative effect on businesses because they often cause duplicity of effort, wasted resources on un-accounted-for purchases, and lack of transparency in communication around tasks and projects. All of these things, as they build up over time, can start wasting the company a lot of money.
Can silos be removed and/or prevented?
Luckily, silos can mostly be avoided (and existing silos dismantled) through clear process documentation of your business processes and the creation of training to effective teach those processes to team members. These two crucial steps eliminate confusion and encourage teamwork, creating an atmosphere which often prevents silos from needing to be created.
Process Documentation can Help
Silos often occur because there is no single point of truth for team members to refer to when doing something, so everyone is left to fend for themselves. Asking management and team members to document their existing processes is often an eye-opening experience, as people may be following markedly different methods to accomplish similar goals. It’s also very important to establish common goals during the process documentation phase, and help rally your team behind them so everyone feels like their needs are being heard and addressed.
This can open up the opportunity to brainstorm ways to streamline those processes and give team members an opportunity to voice their opinions on which method works best. This generally leads to less conflict and a lot of time saved. As an added bonus, “Employees who can reach outside their silos learn more and sell more.”
Once the processes are clearly defined, it’s much easier to understand everyone’s responsibilities, and move to the next phase of providing training on those processes.
Training on Your Processes
After you have completed the process documentation, it’s recommended to create training that will best help team members understand their roles and responsibilities in relationship to those processes.
First and foremost, training on your documented business processes allows your team to get everyone on the same page because there is no longer ambiguity around how something should be done. People should be following the same process using the same tools in a manner that is proven to be effective.
Management can sometimes be vague around process goals, which can cause apathy or confusion in those doing much of the work. Just as in the documentation phase, it’s recommended to work together with team members to help contribute to the training so that everyone feels like their voice is heard, leading to more buy-in to the training.
When everyone is on the same page, it’s much easier to understand what’s happening and make decisions based on the needs of the company/team as a whole, eliminating the need for silos.
Positive Results™ works with companies to analyze their business processes, and provides training and tools to account for any gaps we find. Often these gaps are caused by organization silos. Through documenting your businesses processes and turning it into effective training, we can help companies like yours function as team and eliminate the need for organizational silos.
If you have additional questions or need support, contact us at:
Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions