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7 Top Causes of Silos at Workplace

Posted by Kanika Sinha

October 23, 2023

Silo mentality starts at the top and spreads, isolating teams and inhibiting collaboration.

A well-functioning organization thrives on open communication and collaboration. Teams of every type and size must share information and collaborate cohesively to ensure the organization’s continued growth, adaptability, and overall success. However, there can be numerous obstacles that can come in the way of effective communication. One of the most common roadblocks are inter-department silos.

In business organizations, a silo is when specific departments or sectors choose not to share information with others. This leads to diminished operational efficiency and lowered morale that may erode the productive company culture. 

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But how do you think these silos occur?  

They do not appear by chance, nor is it a coincidence that many organizations grapple with interdepartmental turf wars. It starts at the top and permeates every level of the organization, perpetuating a culture of isolation and hindering collaborative efforts.

Here are the top seven common causes of silos in the workplace.

1. Lack of clear communication

One of the primary culprits behind silos is a lack of communication. When departments or teams don’t communicate openly and transparently, it creates a void where rumors and misunderstandings can thrive. This lack of communication often stems from discord within an organization, like pitting teams against each other or managers encouraging individuals to strive for personal glory. Being siloed can contaminate office culture and needs to be addressed as soon as a manager or business owner notices it. 

2. Lack of a unified vision

Without a clear, shared vision and common objectives, employees may lose perspective of the bigger picture. Consequently, they may emphasize personal goals, potentially giving rise to silos as they safeguard their interests. Leadership must ensure employees are on the same page. 

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3. Inadequate tools and processes

Outdated or insufficient tech can also be a cause of silos. When teams don’t have access to the right tools and processes for sharing information and collaborating, they work in isolation, using their methods. Often, this is a necessity, not a choice, so companies should invest in the software and systems that smoothen the process. 

4. Departmental egos

Sometimes, departments or teams within an organization develop an ego or sense of superiority, believing their work to be more critical than others. This attitude can create a sense of “us versus them,” reinforcing silos.

5. Leadership issues

Management’s role in promoting cross-functional learning and fostering a culture of communication and transparency sets the tone for the entire organization. When the leader holds biases against a team, that sense of prejudice can trickle down to their direct reports, eventually fueling a cycle that perpetuates a silo mentality.

6. Resistance to change

All companies must adapt to changing times, but communicating changes to the organization is crucial. When employees are uncertain how it will impact their roles, they may retreat into their comfort zones to maintain stability and familiarity. Additionally, the uncertainty can lead to a lack of willingness to collaborate with other departments, eventually resulting in silos.

7. Geographical or organizational distance

Physical distance or organizational structure can also create silos. Due to the physical separation, remote or geographically dispersed teams may need help collaborating effectively. Investing in the platforms or software necessary to ensure everyone can work together is essential, especially for distributed teams.

The final word

A silo mentality can stunt innovation and collaboration in your organization. Recognizing and addressing the cause is the first step in dismantling these barriers. 

A workplace that encourages collaboration, open communication, and a shared sense of purpose will be better at breaking down silos, fostering a more productive, innovative, and harmonious environment for all employees.

Want to know more about building cross-functional organizations? Since 2006, Escalon has helped thousands of startups get off the ground with our back-office solutions for accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, HR, payroll, insurance, and recruiting — and we can help yours, too. Talk to an expert today. 

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This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. Escalon and its affiliates are not providing tax, legal or accounting advice in this article. If you would like to engage with Escalon, please contact us here.


Kanika Sinha
Kanika Sinha

Kanika is an enthusiastic content writer who craves to push the boundaries and explore uncharted territories. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of business-to-business dynamics, she creates compelling narratives that help businesses achieve tangible ROI. When not hunched over the keyboard, you can find her sweating it out in the gym, or indulging in a marathon of adorable movies with her young son.

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