#13: How to break silo's and improve collaboration

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Why do so many organizations face communication and collaboration issues? Why do they have silo thinking and why do organizations not manage to be really customer-oriented? Having a functional organization in fast times can actually place a major role in why an organization is counterproductive.

  • In the past, organizing departments around specialties like marketing, sales, IT, and customer service was really helpful. You could become specialized and deliver great processes. Today, the speed of change has accelerated, meaning the processes in place need to adapt.
  • A lot of these specialized departments have become interdependent of each other and must spend time trying to align with other departments to solve their own issues and objectives. This is why people usually spend more time in meetings trying to align then doing their actual jobs!

The reality is jobs are becoming more and more complex. This can cause organizational stress as many feel they do not have the power to change the things needed in their department.

  • If you have a high complexity but low job autonomy because of the functional structure in place you begin to place your employees at high risk of burning out.
  • Most times it has nothing to with the team member as a person but everything to do with how your organization is structured!

What can you do to prevent this as an organization?

By beginning to remove the interdependencies by changing the structure from a functional organization towards a cross-functional organization. Removing these interdependencies between departments and creating a more cohesive team unit, you will start seeing success in your team members.

Some of the benefits of moving towards a cross-functional organization can be:

  • Less Time in Meetings—People will be spending less time in meetings trying to align. This will allow them to focus more on their specialized job and how they can best deliver what the customer needs.
  • Less Stress—Your team members will no longer feel they are exhausting themselves trying to get what they need but instead will be able to actually do something about the problems at hand.
  • Decrease in Costs—With more cohesive teams, the benefits can be seen for decreasing certain parts of the budget to fit the needs of others without relying on a management decision.
  • Increase in Customer Experience – An increase in customer experience will lead to more satisfied customers and in turn an increase in revenues.
  • Happier Work Culture—This organization structure change allows for employees to decrease their stress and do their job better overall for them and their team.

The Hurdles of transforming towards cross-functional teams

You may wonder with all of these benefits why so many organizations are still not embracing organizing their teams into cross-functional teams to better focus on their customers. There are four major hurdles that stand in the way of success from transforming an organization from a functional one to a cross-functional one.

  • The Management Team – The first big hurdle is the management team or the actual directors of the departments themselves. With this organizational shift, department director roles disappear as the structure shifts. This is one of the biggest hurdles because the people making the decisions to transform the organization are also the first ones to lose their jobs or lose their current role in the company.
  • Uncertainty—The uncertainty in not being sure if they can handle a new role can quickly create a resistance to even positive change.
  • New Team Structures—Joining the teams and combining departments can also cause resistance to change. After having departments blame each other for issues for so long, this can create friction as they now have to work alongside other department members in one cohesive team.
  • Change Takes Time—The process of change requires time to adequately adapt to the processes in place. Some people who do not see results immediately will think it is not working and will want to go back to the old structure. All things take time especially dramatic organizational shifts!
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