5 Ways to Break Barriers for a More Collaborative Work Culture

5 Ways to Break Barriers for a More Collaborative Work Culture
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Many Leaders Strive for a More Collaborative Work Culture

Many organizations are structured around functional silos.  If you want a more collaborative work culture, one that depends on achieving company-wide and team goals rather than disconnected goals, you need to break down the barriers that keep your functions and employees in silos.

Departments or teams that work in isolation can decrease efficiencies, lack innovation, and work against common strategic goals.

Overcoming Silos is Important

  • Recent Accenture research found that 93 percent of leaders believe that functional silos are the biggest impediment to growth and that only 25 percent believe their company’s operating model has evolved quickly enough to align to their strategy.  They also found that de-siloed teams that operate fluidly are 28 percent more likely to achieve the highest levels of revenue growth.
  • A survey from the American Management Association showed that 83 percent of executives said that silos existed in their companies.
  • The same survey also found 97 percent of executives think that silos have a negative effect on organizational health, performance, and customer experience.

While silos can foster powerful expertise and focus, executives who want to fuel high levels of company-wide growth complain that silos lack the necessary levels of transparency at work and elasticity of skills between functions to maximize synergies.

Timely Information Flow Matters Across Teams
In fact, your company’s ability to innovate, grow, and stay competitive may depend upon your company’s ability to share what they know, what they can do, and how they can help.

Our Organizational Alignment Research found that “timely information flow across the company” ranked as the fourth biggest differentiator between high and low performing organizations in terms of profitable revenue growth, customer retention, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.

A more collaborative culture is a smart way to unleash your company’s full potential.

Five Ways to Break Barriers for a More Collaborative Work Culture
In addition to assessing your current organizational culture to see where things stand, here are five ways you can crash through organizational silos that restrict the power of effective collaboration at work:

  1. Get Your CEO and Senior Leadership Team on the Same Page
    Company leadership must understand their role in building a collaborative work culture. Employees take their cues on accepted company and team norms from those who lead them.  Leadership must set the stage by:

    — Identifying and agreeing upon the critical few strategic priorities that truly require cross-functional collaboration to be successful

    —  Modeling the desired behaviors and ensuring that silos and back-channeling is not tolerated

    —  Creating shared goals across functions to break down silo-based mentalities

  2. Clearly Define How You Expect Employees to Behave
    Make sure every employee understands what it means to collaborate and how collaboration looks day in and day out. You need to make sure the entire workforce knows how their specific and observable actions contribute to the kind of collaborative culture you desire at work.
  3. Reinforce Desired Behaviors Through Accountability and Transparency
    Positive change is unlikely to happen unless you are consistent in (1) measuring and rewarding the desired behaviors and (2) having consequences for the silo-building behaviors.

    Employees across the board need to be monitored — no exceptions.

    If you allow a top performer to get away with looking only toward individual goals and not cooperating with team members to help achieve team goals, your initiative will quickly lose credibility and the change effort will fail.

  4. Hire and Promote with Your Desired Workplace Culture in Mind
    Talent alone should not drive your hiring or promotions. You want employees who reinforce the team culture you are striving to create.

    High performing leaders hire and promote people who sincerely want to contribute to the team’s success by sharing information, resources, and points of view.

  5. Foster the Kind of Open Communication that Supports Strong Relationships
    Make sure that the individuals on your team know how to communicate effectively. You want an environment where people can speak honestly and with respect.

    You need communicators who know how to build rapport, manage conflict, seek and encourage feedback, and focus on ways to work productively.

The Bottom Line
Organizational culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies. If your strategy depends upon collaboration across functions, be proactive about creating a more collaborative work culture that you know will help your people and your business thrive.

To learn about the steps required to create a more collaborative work culture, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture that You Must Get Right to Beat the Competition

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance