Collaboration is key to companies remaining innovative and successful. Here’s how experiential learning can help break down silos in the workplace.
A silo mentality is described as teams or individuals in a workplace who do not share information or work collaboratively with others in a business. It can also be those who are so focused on their individual tasks that they are not aware of other things going on around them, or the need to even communicate. While working in silos can reduce efficiency and productivity, it can also at times be seen to be working in a very focused and effective way as an individual. However, when considering the bigger picture, channels of communication are hindered and a lack of mutual awareness of business activity slows down progress.
Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of breaking down silos, with words such as ‘collaboration’ particularly important within businesses. Sometimes we do need to work in silos, but occasionally we need to break it down, especially to ensure the unique contributions that people are making every day at work are still focused with the overall company goals and direction in mind.
Experiential learning is ‘learning by doing’. Seen as an effective way for employees to learn new skills and retain information, it can also be incredibly effective at breaking down barriers caused by silo working in organisations.
Here’s how experiential learning can help companies move beyond silo mentality:
Live and Breathe the Company’s Vision
Organising experiential learning with a purpose about a company’s vision is a brilliant way of bringing people together. Use the opportunity to define what the company vision means to them and how together they are going to deliver it and bring it to life in a context that's meaningful. As well as being a useful exercise for the company, experiential learning is a great way of developing common purpose and better understanding whatever their role in the company.
Although individuals in a company have many different job roles and areas of expertise, there are also numerous core skills employees need to have too. Core skills in a business may include communication, presentations or public speaking, using specific software or technology, problem solving, leadership and mentorship. All these skills can be developed through experiential learning – so running sessions such as these for people from across a business has the added benefit of bringing people together who wouldn’t normally collaborate. As well as up-skilling the workforce, this is an effective way of breaking down silos.
Breaking down Hierarchies
Silos can particularly develop in organisations where there is a distinctive hierarchy of roles and decision making. This can cause a ‘them and us’ attitude between leaders, managers and the rest of the workforce. Involving individuals of all levels in the business can work wonders for breaking down hierarchies whilst at the same time building respect for each other.
Goal Setting that Transcends Departments
Companies who integrate experiential learning with a company’s vision can also include goal setting within the remit. Working together to define a company’s overall goals helps employees see how they will slot together to achieve them. Everyone from different levels of the organisation can come together using experiential learning to help develop their empathy and understanding for each other's different roles and responsibilities.
Opportunities for Interaction
Experiential learning will have a higher purpose too, but they are tremendous opportunities for colleagues to interact together. It’s a rare chance to put people together whose paths would not normally cross. It’s equally important to build time into the day, and the experiential learning will include ice-breaker sessions, networking and fun team building activities.
Build Confidence Instead of Uncertainty
A knock-on effect of silo working is lack of communication between leaders and the workforce, which can cause teams and individuals to feel uncertain about the future. Speculation can arise about restructuring, redundancies or about the general direction of travel for the company. Starting to break down the negative impact of silo working through experiential learning is also a confidence boost for everyone involved, and if course, creates a happier working environment, contributing to everyone's wellbeing.
Experiential learning has numerous benefits and breaking down silo mentality is a key one. Particularly by improving communication and encouraging collaborative thinking among everyone, experiential learning, as part as an event, brings people together and engenders clarity about shared goals.
Come and experience experiential learning at one of our upcoming taster days!