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Team Communication Best Practices: Avoiding the Silo Effect

Teams often lose productivity due to poor communication between teams causing miscommunication and duplicating work efforts. Leaders should focus on improving team communication by using best practices and avoiding the silo effect.

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What is the Silo Effect?

A silo on a farm prevents different grains from mixing. This can be compared to each team within an organization existing within individual silos. A lack of information, communication, and common goals between teams is referred to as the Silo Effect. Siloed employees show a reluctance to integrate their efforts with employees in other functions of the organization. Silos can be formed in individual teams such as development, marketing, customer service, and so on when the emphasis is not placed on external communications. This is often due to prioritizing fiscal performance per team. Leadership must promote teamwork and cooperation in order to increase performance which will result in lower costs for the organization.

Results of the Silo Effect

Even if teams communicate effectively among themselves, they may not communicate with others outside of their team. The most common result of the silo effect is that productivity suffers. When teams are not collaborating together, they tend to work separately on similar goals. If they would combine their skillsets and tasks, they could achieve their goals faster.

Causes of the Silo Effect

One of the major causes of the silo effect is having an “us vs. them” mentality between teams within an organization. I have seen this mentality in action very often between development and marketing or strategy teams. To avoid this mentality, managers should facilitate communication between teams in a positive manner and shut down complaints in favor of constructive criticism.

Another cause of the silo effect is conflicting priorities among teams. Conflicting priorities can reinforce siloed behavior because they are often tied to goals with compensation. This can drive teams to prioritize their own tasks in order to meet their goals. Sometimes conflicting priorities are unavoidable, but managers should strive to align the priorities across all teams.

Team Communication Best Practices Causes of the Silo Effect
Team Communication Best Practices Avoiding the Silo Effect – Video available now on the HoffsTech YouTube Channel!

Internal Team Communication

Silos can also exist within teams. You need to ensure that you are not propagating the silo effect mentality within your team. You should make sure that your physical office space is conducive to collaboration as well as the communication technologies that you use for remote and hybrid employees. You can also move your employees around on different projects so that they have a chance to work with as many people as possible.

When you sit on video calls all day, you may experience video call fatigue. It’s important to consider the communication channels for remote employees, especially so you do not over-schedule them.

Practicing empathy is also a good way to promote comradery. When you and your team are understanding of the lives of others outside of work, this will help to form strong bonds on your team. Working remotely, we are often faced with having to take care of children or family members during the workday or something else that takes us away from our keyboards for a moment. It’s important not to expect instant replies from your team all day long. If they’re productive, it shouldn’t matter if they’re late to a meeting once in a while.

Promoting over-communication is a great way to avoid under communication which of course leads to miscommunication. You should strive to strike a good balance so that you do not over-communicate so much that your messages are distracting to your co-workers.

Team Communication Best Practices – Courses on Pluralsight

Fostering Effective Team Collaboration and Communication
Fostering Effective Team Collaboration and Communication – Available Now on Pluralsight!

You can learn more about this topic in my Pluralsight course, Fostering Effective Team Collaboration and Communication. This course includes animated scenario-based training and you will watch as a management team implements a communication plan to lead a self-managing team. By the end of this course, you will be able to establish a communication plan, avoid miscommunication, and provide your team with the tools for successful collaboration. Click the button below to get started with a free trial today!