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Breaking Organisational Silos with Peer Learning

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

“Wait but our team has done this too, we thought this was our responsibility”. 

There’s literally nothing more agonising, more frustrating than hearing this at work. Imagine having toiled for weeks on a particular pitch, or a concept development only to find out another team has been working along simultaneously. Apart from the idea that together, you could have worked faster or better, lack of coordination and clarity has led to a waste of time and resources. It’s a clear indication that your organisation is siloed. Organisational silos may be a byproduct of growth, but can be extremely detrimental to your organisation’s efficiency in the long run.

What are Information Silos? 

An organisation is said to have information silos when business divisions operate independently and don’t facilitate a seamless transfer of information. This can be a result of policy, personnel, perception or simply, process gaps. Silos are not bound by structure; they can exist within teams as well. 

The most common silos that companies in the 21st century experience are Data Silos. Over the last 2 decades, technology and data proliferation has given way to every department collecting tons of information and storing it. However, unless this data is collated, synthesised, processed and redistributed across the organisation, it’s going to create more problems than solve. Imagine a loyal customer of a shoe label receiving messages from the marketing team about first-time shopper discounts. Picture the problems that would arise if the supply chain team launched a new product without knowing the dynamics of a market from the marketing team. Now that’s bad for business! 

Silos may also exist in the minds of employees who have a shared impression of its reality.  Organisational silos don’t appear out of nowhere. They are created by a combination of mindset, culture, and various other factors. Tackling the silo mentality is a must for all organisations to avoid losses and inefficiencies. It ensures clarity of purpose and direction for the company. 

5 ways to spot Silos at your workplace

Silos can be very damaging to an organisation and can cost it valuable resources, time and become an opportunity cost. The first step to overcoming silos is identifying them. Here are some ways to spot silos at your workplace. 

1. Dissatisfied customer experience – 

Nothing is more indicative of silos than an unhappy customer. Customer dissatisfaction stems mainly from expectations not being matched. This happens more often than not, when one bit of the piece, as in this case, one team, under delivers. 

 2. Us vs Them mentality

This is a case of the chicken or egg problem. When departments or teams operate in isolation, they begin to develop unhealthy competition. This competition inturn makes them not share information, leading to deeper silos. 

 3. Task duplication

If you start noticing duplication and redundancies at work, your organization might be harbouring silos. Lack of clarity about team roles and responsibilities, is an indication of a siloed organisation.

4. Isolated goal setting

Convergence as a term has suddenly become the go-to-jaron for organisations. Without leaning too much into it, there is some merit to the idea. Lack of a unified vision can lead to teams setting up and racing towards goals that don’t sync with the bigger picture of the company. Such incongruence of goals indicates presence of silos.

5. Inflexible departments

Unified teams are always keen to share information, open to taking up more responsibility and going out of their way to make things happen. Even if it means learning something on the fly, for the sake of the company. If your teams are not doing their bit and more, it may be due to silos within the company. 

How to Tackle Organisational Silos

First and foremost, you need executive buy-in. Business leaders must acknowledge and take active steps to address a siloed organisation. This includes creating an environment where information flow is seamless and teams are driven to work together in lieu of the broader company vision. Effective communication, transparency, accountability and a holistic approach to growth are other essentials that leaders should focus on. 

At BHyve, we look at an innovative approach to fixing silos – Learning and Development. 

Learning & Development might be the silver bullet

One of the most innovative ways to tackle organisational silos is through the implementation of a peer learning exercise in your organisation. Peer learning offers numerous benefits while simultaneously killing the silos mentality, like;

  1. Helps create a unified vision – As written by Patrick Lencioni in his book Silos, Politics and Turf Wars; “Silos – and the turf wars they enable – devastate organisations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardise the achievement of goals.” He advises leaders to address the underlying issues instead of focusing on the communication that comes from the top management. A healthy peer learning environment can usher a higher sense of purpose and reinforce the company’s vision within the workforce. 

  1. Creating an open, welcoming environment- Lack of a unified vision, at times is not a communication issue, but a culture problem. Employees often forget the broader picture while working to attain departmental/ personal targets. Peer learning can address this. A workplace where every employee is invested in the wellbeing of their colleagues, and in the company’s larger vision instantly brings in a mentality change that tackles information hoarding. 

  1.  Collaborate and create – A strong collaborative environment that focuses on ‘we’ and not ‘me’ requires free flow of information. Peer Learning is proven to encourage teamwork, make people better learners & teachers and better communicators. A robust communication network between teams can lead to almost 16% year-on-year growth in customer retention rate compared to people who are non collaborators. 

  1. Use your best assets to their full potential– Employees are a company’s most valuable asset. Peer learning not only makes employees more aware and collaborative but also helps them learn from the people they’re most comfortable with. Peer learning empowers employees to break free from silos, to reach out and engage with people who can add maximum value to their work and thus attain the full benefits of teamwork. It not only helps the organisation attain its goal but also helps individuals realise their personal growth stories. 

Silos stand in the way of innovation and growth by giving rise to a petty mentality. An effective peer learning platform can tackle this in a very cost-effective and efficient way, while promoting a learning temperament at your company. BHyve is one such gamified peer learning platform. It encourages collaboration and learning in a secure, open and friendly environment. If you’re interested in learning about how you can not only break silos but achieve much more, chat with our experts at BHyve.


#employeelearning #corporatelearning #organisationalsilos #peerlearning #employeeengagement

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