Business information is meant to be shared, not put into a silo. However, siloing often happens purposefully or accidentally during periods of company growth. Departments get protective over their resources, whether they are talent, budget, or information. This creates a competitive environment within the company and slows down overall growth.
What is a “silo” in business terms?
Putting something into a silo essentially means that you are keeping a resource in a particular department or area of a business, and not sharing it across departments.
When is siloing useful?
Siloing is useful when something needs to be kept out of the mainstream of a business. Here are two examples that require siloing:
1. When programing a new app, giving everyone access to such an app could be disastrous. What if a marketing executive decides to tinker with it to make it more marketable and accidentally adds code that the programming team doesn’t know about? What if the sales team decides to sell functionality that will never get built into the app? It’s better to keep the development project siloed until the work is completed.
2. The same is the case with research and development projects. An experiment does not need to be shared across departments. What if the experiment doesn’t work – but a production executive has already ordered the retooling of equipment to produce it?
When such projects are shared, time, money, and effort can be wasted. So, they are siloed.
When is siloing damaging to a business?
However, siloing can have adverse effects when the information and resources that are partitioned off from the rest of the company should be shared across departments.
In a recent interview with Chad Gill and Adi Klevit, Chad shared a perfect example of why data sharing is vital.
Chad had three employees. Each performed a particular task “as a favor” to the other. They did not know that other employees were performing that same task, so each employee thought another was not doing their job. Over time, this built up frustration, and a key employee left because they felt overwhelmed at having to do their assigned job – plus someone else’s work.
Had Chad put in a system for that one task and assigned the task to a particular job title, he may have been able to keep on a key employee.
This is an example of siloed information that damaged everyone. It caused frustration and was even behind a valued staff member’s departure.
When information, talent, or other resources would allow employees to do a better job, those resources should not be siloed.
How to get information in use across departments
Taking your information out of its silo
Spreading information and sharing resources throughout your company isn’t as simple as declaring, “We will now be sharing resources!” Often, taking data out of its silo and creating a participatory culture means one must change the underlying rules and habits of staff and leadership alike.
This can be done by implementing the following:
Creating rules and standards around data sharing allows for the following:
1. Building a culture around interdepartmental cooperation.
2. Providing underlying principles on which employees can rely.
3. Improving communication between employees and leadership.
4. Providing the basis for building processes and procedures.
5. Making knowledge transfer a normal day-to-day process.
Processes & Procedures
Documenting existing processes and procedures provides a straightforward system for data sharing. Once the steps for a process are recorded, the employee or leadership can discuss improving these steps, simplifying and refining them, and improving them so employees can do the best job possible, every time.
When data is taken out of its silo and systematized, it becomes more useful for every affected employee. Additionally, having a system for something allows employees to see where job overlaps occur and helps them better define their role. Establishing these systems ensures that no one feels as if they are taking on more than their job description asks of them.
Building a culture of data sharing provides more access to basic knowledge in every department. However, many employees in vital roles acquire specialized information they should communicate to others. This is where knowledge transfer comes in. Documenting critical information or technical information allows high-value employees to get extra support, quickly train an assistant, or train a temporary replacement before going on a vacation.
Having knowledge transfer information documented during the employee’s tenure not only helps an employee, but it can help an employer determine if they can promote that employee or replace that employee when they decide to leave or retire.
Building an accessible library of essential documentation gives employees more resources and the ability to work efficiently and easily. Documentation allows executives to better manage their teams and communicate across departments.
Un-siloing may sound like a lot of work, and it can be. But it provides a big reward in reducing double work, increasing employee satisfaction, building efficiency, and creating a rewarding work environment. If that sounds like something you’d like to build into your business, get in touch with the Business Success Consulting Group team here.