As they say, “teamwork makes the dream work,” and as cliche as that phrase may be, it’s the absolute truth and overall solution when it comes to combating the silo mentality, especially in nonprofit organizations where collaboration is king!
A silo mentality, in short, is the unwillingness to share or communicate important knowledge or information with fellow team members across different departments within a company or organization. As you can imagine, this type of mindset can prove to be problematic within any organization as it leads to isolated departments and teams, and ultimately, not achieving set goals.
The great news is that if your nonprofit is experiencing organizational silos, there are ways to break down those communication barriers to create a more fluid flow of information and open communication across all departments within your organization.
The hovering theme of silo mentalities is the lack of communication across different departments, right? Well, consider hosting regular cross-department meetings so that everyone can be on the same page and share ideas. It’s also important to get the entire team involved in some of these meetings as well, not just upper management. By involving all team members, the meeting may take a bit longer, but it allows team members in other departments to see the good work other department members are doing, it improves documentation, and lastly, it puts the bigger picture, or mission/goal, at the forefront for everyone across all departments.
Ensuring that all team members have clear roles and responsibilities will keep accountability intact and aid in the execution of integral initiatives. When roles are clear, it allows the person or group responsible for a certain area to be the primary decision-maker(s) and ensure all cross-departmental groups achieve their group goals. Clear roles and responsibilities also aid in conflict resolution as well.
As easy as it is to say “do as I say and not as I do,” it’s nowhere near as effective as “practicing what you preach.” If breaking the silo mindset is what you desire for your nonprofit organization, then you must exhibit model behavior. Members across multiple departments and diverse teams must engage and participate in training sessions and work together to develop and implement how the levels of collaboration will be strategized and executed.
Just imagine a team that knows a certain project is in operation but doesn’t understand or even know the specific details, when other teams know more. This can make individual team members
feel left out and cause anxiety; transparency should be provided throughout the change from start to finish. Teams should be able to collect and share data, forecast success and potential areas of improvement, and share feedback and ideas all while feeling that they are in a safe space to do so.
It’s easy to get caught up in the competitive side of nonprofits by wanting to be the person who came up with the great idea or the team that brought in the most donations, and when that becomes apparent, it’s a clear indicator that the initial mission and goal got lost in translation. Leading by example will encourage and empower team members to work together towards the overall mission and goal. It will also show that you’re a team player as well. Again, it’s easy to say “do this” and expect everyone to do the task except you. When you practice what you preach, it not only opens the door for consistent communication but also builds trust, which will, ultimately, help your organization thrive and grow.
Silos are meant to separate grain, not communication within nonprofit organizations. Whether your nonprofit organization is in the charity, education, humanities, or a different sector, it’s important to keep the goals you’re trying to achieve at the forefront of your mind and use that as the foundation of why, as a team, you do what you do. Sure, there will be some clashing of ideas and different opinions to consider, but will withholding information from each other across different departments get the team closer to the overall goal? In most cases, no.
If your organization is experiencing silo mentalities, the team at KM Clark knows and understands just how important nonprofits are to our local communities and the important role they play in contributing to society at large. More importantly, they know and understand the challenges nonprofit organizations face and provide consultation services to help teams get on the same page. From management and strategy and partnership building to training and facilitation and media and marketing, the vision of KM Clark is to ensure nonprofits have sustained maximum impact. To encourage teamwork and create a silo-free environment, call today to schedule your initial consultation.