Silos manifest themselves on a daily basis, undermining profits, performance and productivity costing a corporation millions. The secret to breaking down silos is accepting the fact you have a silo problem. To deny that you have silos obstructing growth and performance is in fact creating a silo. Once you accept the problem, then you can begin to reduce losses and optimize your potential.

Silos have different meanings to different people within the organization. Senior executives it’s profits - management it’s performance - employee it’s productivity (or paycheck). Here are the 10 signs of silos from “C-Suite to Cubicle” that provide a glimpse into the not so mysterious world of silos.

1. I’m Giving My Two-Weeks Notice (Turnover): If you’re losing your top tier talent to competitors or they fail to meet expectations, it’s a sign of a silo. If top talent is leaving or you cannot recruit top talent, then that’s an organizational by-product of several silos that constrict a talented workforce from hiring to firing.

2. The Company Thanks Me with a Paycheck (Bureaucracy): If you have too many employees who feel disenfranchised, then they are working for a paycheck. Often doing their time of 40 hours a week, coasting and undermining employee morale and culture.

3. Those Guys at Corporate Don’t Get It (Step-Child): The farther your associates are away from HQ, the more silos come into play, causing non-compliance, ineffectiveness and inconsistent practices.

4. Those Guys Outside of Corporate Don’t Get It (Potomac Fever): The closer to the top you get, the farther away you are from solving problems. The powerful silo is executive hubris that creates blinders. More formality, more reports, more meetings, and less feel for the workforce will give birth to silos.

5. Another Employee Survey? (Night Light): Too many surveys look for satisfaction, but rarely solicit meaningful input to help employees find more meaning and purpose in their work. Most employees see the survey as a night light trying to illuminate the entire house. Therefore, surveys, for the most part, just reaffirm negative perceptions of corporate being out of touch and the survey is covering someone’s backside.

6. Meeting About Meetings? (Double Jeopardy): Wonder why you have so many meetings? It’s obvious – silos. Getting into the same room together and directly communicating keeps the silos outside the room, but in fact, it only strengthens them. When you get to having too many meetings, then work suffers, deadlines are missed and stress fractures performance.

7. Employee of the Month (Shooting Stars): Recognizing employees who went the extra mile is good, but a formalized, predictable program is counter-productive. For every employee showcased in the EOM, there are nine employees who feel overlooked. Perceptions of brown nosing, gaming the system and “managers’ pet” just builds silos. Randomized recognition breaks down these type of silos.

8. That’s Not How We Do It Here (The Establishment):  Status quo attitudes create and sustain organizational silos that lead to atrophy of innovation and enthusiasm.  Assimilation is part of a healthy corporate culture, but leaders need to recognize that change is healthy when communicated effectively to stakeholders.  

9. That’s Not in My Job Description (Anti-Hero): Ever come across someone who is more focused on what he/she is not supposed to do versus focused on doing what needs to get done? It’s either a clunker of a hire or it may be an achievement-minded employee who has taken on way too much work from other folks and simply burnt out. Regardless it’s a silo that started with the job description and hire.

10. Can You Resend the Email? (Machine Gunner): Sent an email days ago and it never got looked at or you didn’t see it come in your Inbox? Ever happen? If so, that’s evidence of a silo. There’s always someone who professes that they get over 200 emails a day, maybe you. Yes, it gives the impression that that person/you are very busy, but it also is a warning of key information getting lost or overlooked. This leads to delaying productivity and meeting deadlines.

These 10 signs of silos are the most basic evidence that the corporate structure needs a renovation. There are almost as many silos as there are employees, so leaders and managers must identify the systems, processes and practices that fail to empower the workforce.

Thankfully, the solutions to silos are found within the organization. Yes, it’s about the organizational culture, but silos have several beginnings from command & control to punching the clock. So where to begin is key and depends on the type of organization framework you have in place.

The more you notice the silos that act like the devil on your shoulder, the more ability you have in breaking them down. The key is putting a system in place that empowers and engages. Look for more in the Secret Silos Series by SL7 Consulting. Go to www.PatrickSlevin.com for more on the series and services.