Weekly Spotlight

Weekly Spotlight: Breaking Down Organizational Silos


We’re going to interrupt our weekly spotlight blog post to take a moment to thank all of our early community members. We brought Better Messengers to life because when the world seemed upside down, the one thing we felt inspired by and connected to was community. We were empowered to bring together professionals who are all motivated to send a better message. Through some hard work, passionate champions, a cordial sponsor, and a hearty dose of luck, Better Messengers is buzzing with 127 members just four weeks after launch.

Whether we have two members, 127 members, or 8,439 members, our commitment to our manifesto will remain the same (that’s a promise). 

So, what’s it mean to be a better messenger? Here’s what 10 of our members had to say:

  1. “Where everything you say improves the recipient’s day.”
  2. “To me, it means making positive change that uplifts and empowers by being clear and intentional.”
  3. “To add value to people’s lives by simplifying the complexity that is in the world around us so that we can better make sense of it and know how to best respond.”
  4. “To be a better connector of ideas and emotions.”
  5. “Be a better leader through communication.”
  6. “To serve an audience and connect with real human needs.”
  7. “Tell the truth, bring joy, earn a clean wage in the process.”
  8. “Being a better messenger means that I find every authentic and relevant way to speak to my customers and prospects.”
  9. “Communicate more effectively – so that your message is relevant to those that hear it.”
  10. “Creating marketing with meaning.”

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Without further ado, our weekly topic spotlight is below. Look for an update every Saturday to recap the #weekly-spotlight conversation, insights, and lessons learned. Have a great idea for a future topic? Join Better Messengers and let any admin know.

Saturday, May 23, 2020 #weekly-spotlight Recap

For those who haven’t joined us yet, each week we pick a hot topic to dive into as a group for the week, starting with member questions top of mind, and then spend the week sharing answers, insights and learnings to the various threads. This week’s topic was a big one: Breaking down organizational silos.

Some of the questions top of mind around breaking down org silos included:

  • Where / when / why do silos start? 
  • Is there anything that can be done to prevent silos?
  • How can we address silos in our organizations?
  • Who creates content? Specifically, by marketing, by subject matter experts, or a mix of both?

In order to come up with a solution to a problem, we first need to understand where that problem comes from. We’re big fans of the five whys approach to root cause analysis, or, simply asking our community members their thoughts and experiences. 

Where do organizational silos stem from?

There isn’t just one source (there never is, is there..), unfortunately, which means the path to breaking them down isn’t one clean straight path. . 

Here’s a couple of places to look:

  1. Department heads, leaders and connectors. Are they sharing data and information willingly? Are they protective of projects? Why? (Insert root cause analysis—dig deeper here!)
  2. Communication channels. How are teams sharing information? How often? Is it easily accessible by all? So many of us have knowledge or support centers for our customers, but do you have an internal wiki for your team?  
  3. Data and information flow. Do teams have the information they need to make decisions on a daily basis? Does one team have more than another?
  4. Org structure. As organizations grow, there are millions of reasons why the departments start to branch out, teams start to specialize, and silos start to show up. It’s rarely intentional, but one of those natural growing pains that is critical to keep in mind. If we can’t avoid silos, can we minimize their impact on outcomes as much as possible? 
  5. Knowledge awareness. If you were to ask a technology team member what programmatic advertising is, they might not jump to answer. And that’s OK, because we hire experts to be great at their job, not everyone else’s job. Cross-training and wikis might help.

One member noted, “teams often simply don’t know what others are working on and/or why. It happens within departments already, and happens even more across departments. It takes conscious and consistent effort to connect relevant folks together across departments and “compare notes.”  It’s hard.

How can we break down organizational silos?

  1. Cross-department meetings
    1. Regular Q&A meetings with other managers
    2. Quarterly offsite (or, virtual these days) leadership meetings
  2. Internal wikis, knowledge share, and enablement
    1. “Programmatic Advertising 101”
  3. Internal PR
    1. Communicate the work you and your organization is doing on a regular basis
      1. Format? Newsletter, google drive, slack, you name it. Find something that works for you and your audience.
  4. Aligned goals and objectives
    1. Whether you’re using OKRs, quarterly initiatives, or another format, cross-department or company wide goals are a great way to keep teams working together.
    2. Bonus points for creating cross-functional teams to drive some of these key initiatives

When it comes to content, and who owns creation, one member shared “I am encouraging product managers to not create content counterparts as one-way stakeholders, but as two-way stakeholders. Meaning Product Managers are also stakeholders for editors, and we need to be strategically aligned about the tools that we share, in this case, email”.   

The great thing about a diverse community? There’s always someone on the other side. On the same content thread, another member shared “In my world, I have the opposite problem. Email is seen purely as a promotion driver rather than as a retention/CRM vehicle as well. I’m walking that fine line between still getting promos out the door (don’t get me wrong, it’s still necessary) and building up the “other” side that is more content-driven. And since email is lumped in with display, paid social, etc., it’s an obstacle to get internal folks thinking about email beyond a longer “ad.” A strongly agreed upon sentiment? It’s like turning the rudder of a very large ship.” 

The value of breaking down organizational silos

All of these tactics aren’t wasted efforts, either. A few members shared the value that we have to gain from doing that hard work. 

  • “Understanding different departments gives me additional insight and advantage to perform better.”
  • “Without stepping back to consider the bigger picture, we risk higher costs of doing business related to duplication of efforts or tools, delays in development due to miscommunication, and ultimately products/services that aren’t as awesome as they could be.”
  • “When you’re spending more time with your peers, it builds trust and a more collaborative mindset.”
  • “If WFH and remote work become the new standard, then leadership will need to be more intentional about reducing org silos. Especially with reduced casual encounters with peers from different departments in common areas.”

We started the #weekly-spotlight based on a member recommendation, and weren’t quite sure what to expect. We shouldn’t be surprised though—this is the caliber of conversation happening daily in Better Messengers. All in all, not too bad for a week’s worth of Slack chatter. See you next week!

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