6 Signs That Silos Exist in Your Organization

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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.

Silos tend to be distrustful, arrogant, and focused on building an empire.

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.

4. Redundancy

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.

Tell us your thoughts on silos. Please leave your comments in the comment section below.

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12 thoughts on “6 Signs That Silos Exist in Your Organization

  1. Excellent article with “spot on,” observations. I would enjoy seeing an article of how to effectively “break through” or “break down” these characteristics, without leaving carnage in its wake.

  2. I never had thought about the term “Silos” but as I read, I realize that I have been a part of a silo at times. Trying to get silos to work together is a difficult task. thanks for this article.

    • Thank you, John. You are correct. It is difficult to deconstruct silos. I’m curious, what did you learn from your experience?

  3. I see this problem also being present in many families too. Each member has their priorities and goals and works at them without asking for or offering help to one another. Even if there was a desire to help or encourage, the meager amount of communication in the family renders such intentions moot. Occasional unintended and superficial conversations are about all that props up the facade of these families. Like a JC Penny and an Apple Store in the mall, the family members share space and expenses but it’s not truly a family (or a church.)