To Increase Success, Tear Down Your Silos!

March 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm Leave a comment

In my book, “Customer Service New Rules“, one of the things I discuss is the concept of Positive Customer Experience (PCE).  Often, the focus of PCE is on our external customers, but in my blog post I want to focus on an equally important customer – the internal customer.

Diane Weklar, president of The Weklar Consulting Group, is an expert in synchronizing marketing and business operations to accelerate company growth. In her article, “Synchronization is the Key to Success”, she says that both small and large business organizations and their operations are complex systems much like a living organism — capable of response to stimulus, reproduction, growth and development. An organism can be unicellular (a business of only you) or multi-cellular (a business containing many).

A complex system is composed of multiple parts, each acting individually according to its own circumstances and which, by so acting, changes the circumstances affecting all the other parts. Yet, most organizations today operate as though each segment of its operations were an independent organism, with its own goals, processes and results. This approach often causes many problems and even leads a company to failure.

In the business organism, internal customers are people you interact with on a regular basis. They come from other departments within the organization. They might be involved in human resources, payroll management, sales, research and development, engineering, etc. Whoever they are and whatever part of the organization they come from, your internal customer wants to be treated with respect, courtesy and kindness.  They want to be part of the team and considered for their contributions to the team.

An often overlooked, but major contributor to the challenges and even failures in business is something known as the “silo effect”.  The “silo effect” refers to a lack of communication and a lack of common goals between departments of an organization. Lack of communication creates a tendency for departments to exclude or diminish ideas, input and feedback from other departments. Silos frequently limit and stunt productivity in practically all organizations where they exist. Silos are often responsible for lapses in security and breaches in privacy. Silos frustrate consumers, who increasingly expect information to be immediately available to them, and complete.

Silos destroy trust. Without trust, you cannot have an environment that supports teamwork across an organization. And, if a team is unable to work efficiently, it will cause an organization to fall behind its competitors.  When there is little or unclear communication between groups, the “right hand” doesn’t know what the “left hand” is doing. Leaders easily fall out of touch with employee sentiment, lose track of important resources at their fingertips and do not receive crucial feedback. In an organization where people in different divisions have little contact with one another, it’s easy to become inwardly focused and complacent with the status quo.

Command-and-control oriented cultures breed silos. In these organizations, fear prevails. Managers focus on guarding turf rather than on engaging colleagues outside their group. Instead of reaching across the organization, people in command-and-control cultures primarily move information and decisions vertically within the silo.

Silos can arise in any organization, large or small, and are detrimental to organizational success. In order to be successful today, an organization should not function as though each segment of its operations is an independent organism. Instead, a successful organization will look at and consider the entire organization as a comprehensive whole.

We’re interested in hearing from you:  What have you done to prevent silos from forming in your organization? What practices does your organization put in place to help unify operations between departments? What would it mean to your organization to eliminate this problem?

Sophia Brooks is the president and CEO of Global Learning Partners, Inc., an international training and consulting firm located in Southern California.  As an international master trainer and keynote speaker, she specializes in implementing customer service initiatives for businesses to increase their profits.

Visit my Web site, Global Learning Partners, Inc., for more information on how I can help your business!

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5 Components of Communication That Can Affect the Profits of Your Business (Just One Missing Piece Could Jeopardize Your Business). — PART 2 The New Rules of Customer Service: Top 10 Requirements for Providing Exceptional Customer Service

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Sophia’s Quotes

“The customer is not always right. However, there is always a right way to treat the customer.” -- Sophia Brooks

"The United States of America is ready for a service mutiny."
-- Sophia Brooks

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