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Silos and turf wars can cost your organization precious time and money. But the effects can be compounded even more when departments are at odds with one another and lack the proper tools to adapt to a fast-paced, ever-changing workplace. Output then gets delayed because departments refuse to collaborate, and employees feel isolated by a departmental identity that doesn’t fit into the company’s larger mission.
To experience sustained success, companies must adopt a unified mission that permeates throughout the entire organization. Of course, many experts agree breaking down silos starts at the top. But moving past the communication barriers can also be a challenging and time-consuming experience. Here are five proven steps your organization should take to effectively and efficiently unify its entire workforce.
1. Craft a Company Vision
Setting into motion a dynamic company culture is even more important than providing one-off perks, especially if your company employs a large millennial workforce. And, on the contrary, even companies with multiple offices and a large number of remote workers can achieve unity. Experts say the key is casting a vision that all employees can share and contribute to in a meaningful way.
Indeed, having buy-in about shared identity and values can quash past departmental differences by encouraging employees to think of themselves as part of the organization first and their department second. Beyond selling high-quality natural and organic products, Whole Foods lives and breathes its core values every day and is an excellent example of a company whose vision encompasses every employee within every department.
2. Create Better Communication
One of the best ways companies can engage and empower their employees is by decreasing inefficiencies through better, smarter communication strategies. Thus, putting into motion a cloud contact center not only will make your employees’ lives easier but will also better optimize operations by providing a more efficient means for your customers to reach you.
Indeed, these gains in overall efficiency will result in a more positive and streamlined work environment. Call routing, virtual receptionists, voice verification and emergency notifications are just some of the applications that can be useful for a better company-wide communication strategy.
3. Pair Mentors and Mentees
Departments that tend to isolate themselves practice stagnant thinking and have an “us vs them” mentality. But by pairing new employees with a seasoned mentor from another department, your organization can optimize its workforce and strengthen relationships across various departments.
In truth, the mentee will have a broader perspective of the company’s values and an expert (other than a boss or colleague) to go to for questions or advice. In turn, the mentor will gain valuable insight into the younger employee’s needs and motivations. And both mentee and mentor will benefit from the exchange of ideas across departments by developing an understanding of the struggles and priorities inside a department other than their own.
4. Use Collaborative Tools
A siloed workforce doesn’t tend to communicate well and, perhaps most frustratingly, performs repeat work. However, your company can avoid this by streamlining its communication, file management, and storage systems. Not sure where to turn? Experts suggest using cloud-based collaborative solutions like Office 365, Slack, Asana or Google Drive to help departments work together more efficiently in order to solve problems. The best part? These solutions won’t hurt your bottom line.
5. Celebrate Success Together
A common problem in the business world is the number of misguided department leaders who try to make themselves look better to another department’s detriment. To combat this toxic blame game, encourage department heads to share key achievements with the entire organization and publicly thank contributors from other departments — the unsung heroes — that made their project a success.
To achieve these results, your company may want to provide a forum for sharing success stories through a newsletter, email announcement or social media. Or, you could go the extra mile by surprising your employees with a free lunch to celebrate department X’s achievements. Ultimately, however, your goal should be to highlight and celebrate as many departments as possible throughout the year.