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An organizational silo is simply a system where employees are locked in, with the resources they work with—with minimal communications with other parts of an organization.
Now, silos may seem benign from the surface since some level of departmental autonomy is required for a team to do their best work in an organization. But once such a team begins to see itself less and less as a part of the organization’s bigger team goals, three problems pop up:
In short, silos in your marketing team not only drain resources but can threaten the health of the entire organization. In this article, we’ll be exploring:
No marketing team sets out to break itself into unproductive silos that guzzle resources and don’t hit bigger picture targets. But as the day-to-day routine progresses, small issues in the marketing team’s communications and strategy lead to a situation where different units are focused entirely on their own small part of the marketing equation.
Here are four reasons why silos form in marketing teams:
Self-organization is an interesting concept that springs from the Agile methodology. It simply entails that a team should have enough resources—human and technical alike—to work semi-autonomously and to deliver on their targets. This way, they can trim off a lot of back and forth with higher leadership and stay more productive.
But taken too far, self-organization can create a system where a part of your marketing team locks themselves away and starts working in a vacuum, far from the rest of the team.
In the race to be more autonomous, parts of your marketing team can focus 100 percent on their part of the marketing pie, without checking up on how their efforts intersect with other parts of the bigger marketing team.
Communication is the soul of collaboration. After all, how else can everyone stay on the same page and hit business goals?
Silos form more easily in any organization where there isn’t a clear framework for communicating within the team or communicating with other teams whose work intersects with your teams.
For a marketing team to succeed, all its branches must see themselves as a single, cohesive unit pursuing the same goals. If that’s not the case, sub-teams will not only lose alignment around your marketing goals and outcomes but will actually start to compete with one another.
In between wrangling with data in Excel, and determining what the copy for a banner ad should say, it can be easy to lose sight of a marketing team’s why.
In short, the reason the marketing team exists is to attract, engage, and funnel prospects to sales. Now, once parts of the marketing team lose sight of this, individuals or sub-groups within your marketing department may begin to focus more exclusively on doing the best work they can get credit for—without keeping an eye on how their efforts sync with the rest of the team and the organization as a whole.
Now we’ve deconstructed how marketing silos form in organizations, it’s also important to look at them from the why angle. Specifically, why do marketing silos need to be broken down?
Yes, communications breakdown is both a cause and an effect of silos in marketing. This becomes a destructive cycle that gradually pulls the marketing team apart until it can’t deliver on the smallest target.
When several members from across teams get together to strategize, it’s easier to see how resources can be managed and made to go further.
On the other hand, when creative teams in marketing are operating independently, everyone makes decisions that may not sit well when put together. Resource efficiency isn’t a priority, and as a result, waste is inevitable.
When different departments in a marketing team are all trying to get just their own part done, an ugly problem pops up. The bigger picture is there, but there’s no one looking at it. As a result, a lot of work may be done but bigger picture targets are not met because no attention was paid to the critical details.
Since silos are counterproductive to any marketing team that wants to function efficiently, you need to prevent them from forming in the first place or break them if they have already formed. When done without proper planning, it can come across as an intrusive act. Team members might think they are being forced to work together while they could better off alone.
Here’s how you break down silos in your marketing team without creating unnecessary friction.
As much as possible, always define targets, plans, visions, and goals at a high level so all the sub-teams can get a shared vision of where and how everyone’s work fits together to make it all work. Sub-teams can work backward from the big picture
While a lack of communication creates silos in marketing teams, smartly planned and executed meetings offer an easy way out. When you discuss how your efforts intersect, you can stay aligned around bigger picture targets for the long term.
While setting up for more meetings, answer the questions:
Building a smarter meeting culture offers an avenue to bring the various sub-teams together, build a common identity, and unite around shared goals.
Teams that learn together will find it easier to think alike and therefore, work together. This could be in the form of regular update sessions where teams within the marketing department can have a 360-degree of how all their efforts fit so they can see what to do better, not just for success at the team level but to involve every other relevant team and succeed together.
A cross-functional team is one where there’s a number of experts whose project management skills and competencies complement one another. This makes the cross-functional team a self-contained unit that can do much without outside input. In essence, cross-functionality solves the silo problem since teams now have all they need to get things done with zero friction and minimal external input.
It can be demanding to stay on the same page when your team has to do all their work and still try stringing together several communications channels. Use project management templates and marketing project management software that frees up your team to actually do their best work.
Silos are a result of a lack of collaboration and transparency. We built Kissflow Project to solve this exact problem. It combines project management with collaboration in a single platform so it’s easier for your team to stay on the same page.
Take Kissflow Project for a spin and see how your team works as a single unit.