Have you ever come across the term ‘working in silos’? Yes, those things that you often see on farms, but the term is often used in business too. The Oxford English Dictionary describes silos as:
‘A system, process, department, etc. that operates in isolation from others.’
This often happens. Teams in business focus solely on what they do, but not so much on what other teams too. The impact of this can be quite damaging. One team creates more work for another. Processes don’t join up and more than one person doing the same task.
In the end, only one person really suffers – the client or the customer.
In businesses where cross team working is commonplace, things tend to run a lot smoother. Things get done quicker and there tends to be less conflict.
Team 1 doesn’t clearly understand everything about team 2. Team 2 doesn’t understand everything about team 1 or team 3. Team 1 definitely doesn’t understand everything about team 3 and so on.
So, how can you improve cross-team working in your business? Here are some quick ideas:
- Take some time to understand what other teams/department do – It seems like such a simple thing, but this is the starting point. Take some time to get to know colleagues in other departments. Find out what their causes of stress are, what their challenges are, their workloads etc. The more you appreciate what others do, the more you can do to smooth the processes between departments.
- Build relationships with key people in other departments/teams – Make them your point of contact and meet with them on a regular basis.
- Understand the drivers/objectives of other departments – What are the objectives they have and how do they feedback onto the overall strategy of the business
- What expertise do other departments have that you could utilize? – How could other departments help you to achieve your own objectives
- Have clear process maps – Take some time to map out your processes and understand how they all join up. Where do gaps exist and where are any overlaps
- Identify where improvements could be made – Are there opportunities to remove where it’s being duplicated? Do gaps need to be filled where they exist.
Make sure this isn’t all one way. Encourage other teams to do the same. The more you work at this the better things become.
The key is communication. The more you talk, the better you understand. The better you understand, the better the relationship.
If you would like to know more about teamwork and building high performing teams, take a look at our Building High Performing Teams Training Course