By Art Rainer
Silos exist when areas within an organization conduct their activities without the consideration of the organization’s other areas. They operate in an unhealthy vacuum. Silos can occur in almost any organization, including ministries. When they do exist, leaders will find themselves struggling to move their organization forward and experience a deteriorating staff moral.
For the trained eye (and ear), the presence of silos is relatively easy to spot. Here are 6 signs that silos exist in your organization:
1. Differing priorities
An organization comprised of silos is a confused organization. Silos place priorities on activities and make decisions that benefit their area the most. The organizational vision is supported where it supports activity in their area, muddying the vision for employees. Little attention is given to organizational priorities that focus on other areas. Supporting priorities outside of the silo only occurs when requested by top-level leaders.
2. Limited collaboration
Silos tend to be distrustful, arrogant, and focused on building an empire. For this reason, silos like to operate as Lone Rangers. They desire to be self-sustaining. And it annoys them when they must rely on another area within the organization. Therefore, silos will try to complete activities and pursue goals with limited collaboration.
3. Difficulty sending and receiving information
Communication struggles in organizations that operate in silos. Silos understand the power of information and how it can strengthen the silo. And so while there is a great desire to obtain information, there remains little desire to disseminate it.
Because silos like to be self-sufficient, you will find a duplication of activities and responsibilities amongst the silos. This often creates inefficiencies within the organization that can be lessened by centralizing the activities and responsibilities.
5. Inability to react quickly to environmental changes
Organizations with silos are slow to change. The high level of protectionism within each silo requires an inordinate amount of meetings and negotiations before change can take place. These organizations will watch windows of opportunity come and go.
6. Unhealthy competitiveness
Silos tend to negatively portray other silos. They are quick to lay claim when success occurs, but point their fingers when something goes awry. They compete with other silos, not because they feel that it makes for a better organization, but because it increases their significance in the organization. Silos are not interested in celebrating other silos’ successes.
Silos can be damaging. Leaders should be quick to identify when silos exist so that the deconstruction process can begin.
Art Rainer is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and cofounder of Rainer Publishing. He is the author of several books, Raising Dad and Simple Life.