When we see the company dividing into groups or teams isolating themselves, we immediately take action. If we don’t, silos will emerge, which can negatively disrupt the culture and cohesion of the company as a whole.
Silos are more common than you think. They may include departments that are cut off from others, teams that are distant from the rest, or even individuals that aren’t integrating into the company. In whatever form, you should identify the silos and then strategize about how to align them.
In-company isolation is typically a communication problem. Departments and teams need to talk to each other. Individuals must speak up when something’s gone wrong. At the same time, sometimes silos occur organically because you’re not proactively building bridges.
Without intentional action to connect teams and align values, your teams may divide up. Building bridges within your company looks different according to your goals, but some examples include:
- Give your employees tools and company time to collaborate. If your workers are so busy they don’t have time to connect with other teams or departments, that’s a problem. And your company will likely pay for it later. Make sure you’ve given everybody the right tools and company time to actually work together. Otherwise snippy emails, lost communication channels or aggressive confrontations are sure to arise in the future.
- Misunderstandings often arise because teammates don’t know each other. It’s important to know where your teammates are coming from. Team-building doesn’t have to be a big event: daily actions such as getting coffee, doing a 30-minute brainstorm together or participating in social Slack channels can actually help.
- Schedule daily or weekly bridge-building activities. What does a cohesive company look like to you? Whatever vision you have, make it happen with weekly bridge-building goals. You can even make a calendar event every Friday to make sure you’ve done your part to bring teams together.
- Intervene when you see isolation. Is the sales team not talking to the design team? Intervene. Get everybody in the same room and find out what’s going on. Is there a conflict? Are teams lacking tools, training or time to work together? Is there a structural disruption that’s blocking the teams? You’ll only know if you seek out the problem.
Shared goals as the glue to a cohesive company
Diversity is a key value for companies. It’s great for you to hire people of different backgrounds and experiences, as you’re sure to see more creativity and depth of approach. The key to aligning across the diverse groups is to focus on company goals.
If you haven’t defined company goals for your employees, do it soon. This is slightly different from your company’s mission statement, which is often read by clients. In contrast, company goals for your employees may include something like: build high-quality solutions, utilize and develop everybody’s unique skill set, collaborate across teams for better results, etc.
You can even do this exercise with your management team, coming up with company goals that everybody can take part in. It’s a great way to focus your employees on shared goals, and understand the work experience in a completely cohesive way.
Benefits of an integrated company
Having a fully integrated company sounds like a dream. But it’s not just that: for us at Making Sense, it’s essential.
There are key benefits of creating a cohesive company and they’re actually necessary to excel in your projects and grow your company, including:
- More communicative and productive teams
- Greater job satisfaction
- Enhanced collaboration and coordination
- Strong rapport to build bigger and more complicated projects
As you can see, these outcomes aren’t just nice-to-haves. They are core values for companies who want to continue to grow and build their brands over time.
Tips to align your workforce in the long-term
At Making Sense, we use a four-pronged approach in order to keep our workforce aligned. We believe these actions feed into the other values we’ve defined above. To drive alignment and build bridges between teams, we’re constantly working to:
- Be transparent: This goes hand-in-hand with our focus on communication. We believe our employees are happier if they’re not in the dark. We’re always working to make our vision and policies clear to everybody. There are no secrets here. Together we create our company goals and then work through the steps to accomplish them.
- Hire for fit: Our people matter a lot to us. As we grow, we’re picky during the hiring process. Even though we understand the pressure to hire quickly, especially when a large project has popped up, we take our time. It’s a smoother process to hire the right people who share our company goals.
- Design a company-wide “goal pyramid.” A goal pyramid is a great tool to really define how everybody at your company will work towards your goals. Basically, you set levels of goals (hence the pyramid), including company, team and individual goals. Some teams even divide their projects into goal pyramids so they have a clear roadmap to completion.
- Make time for team-building and repeat. It’s easy to get carried away with daily tasks and postpone team-building for a less busy moment. But the reality is that there’s never a perfect moment for team-building. You must make time for this: in the end, it’s a preventive measure that makes your teams stronger and ensures that your most important resources – your people – are thriving.
At Making Sense, we don’t just talk about building bridges. We work every day to add our “brick” to our company’s bridge. It’s not easy, but we’re convinced it makes a positive impact on our projects and our people.