Silos aren’t a sin. There, we said it. It’s an easy argument that being heads-down on your next project and nurturing subject matter expertise is good for the company. We’re all working toward goals, after all, whether they’re individual career goals, project, team, hiring, sales or corporate goals.
In fact, it can feel like a natural step to roll solo on initiatives. Raise your hand if you ever ended up being the student who did all the work on group projects in school.
(Raises hand, too.) It was frustrating, at first. But the work was so good. #noregrets
Attack of the Silos
When it comes to the workplace, however, silos signal a number of deeper issues, from narrow vision to poor communication and clashing egos. The silo effect can be particularly insidious in large organizations.
Ever had a project canceled because another division has been working on something strikingly similar — but neither of you knew because no one bothered to share?
You’ve not only wasted time, money and resources. Your self-worth could hit the skids, too. Depending on who else worked on the now-canceled initiative, you could be headed for a morale spiral. All because of poor communication and no sense of the bigger picture.
The problem isn’t that silos exist. As innovation expert Greg Satell explains, silos are often clusters of subject matter experts working toward a common goal. But it’s in their networking and communication that they get a bad rep.
Teams sweating it out to meet serious growth goals are prone to let cross-division collaboration and communication fall off their to-do lists — unless it’s part of their company culture.
Lead The Way Out of Your Silo
Most research on cracking the silo effect insists it starts at the top. Senior leadership and divisional managers need to lead the way and walk the walk. That might mean regular check-ins or cross-divisional stand-ups — and not condoning the ego trips that lead to withholding data from other teams.
Even if it’s not intentional (or ego driven), teams often don’t realize the consequences of playing keep-away with information. A few common examples:
- Marketing and sales teams operating as if the other didn’t exist, withholding data from each other and game-changing insights.
- Hiring managers and the training department not on the same page, making new employees unsure whose on-ramp to follow during onboarding.
- Cross-divisional recruiters maintaining their own divisional contacts instead of building a collective corporate talent network, together.
Store Your Missed Opportunities in Here
What do these scenarios have in common? Missed opportunities. Lack of cross-divisional communication halts workflow, stunts productivity and leaves other teams working with inaccurate data — or reinventing the wheel to collect the same data.
It not only wastes time, money and resources. It trips up your team better than your competition wishes it could.
When it comes to recruiting and hiring, here are three ways we often see the silo effect manifest itself and lead to missed opportunities in large corporations.
1. Referral Buckets Over Network Effects
Missed opportunity: Expanding your talent network exponentially with referrals.
Think about the people in your talent network — and the people in each of their networks. Pretty sizable, right? Now, multiply that across your division. Still pretty impressive. But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the reach of an entire corporate talent network.
Business divisions often separate recruiting and hiring from other sides of the company. After all, recruiting and hiring for sales talent requires different expertise than for life sciences or engineering. Similar to what we see on sales teams, however, recruiters will often keep their contacts to themselves.
Instead of pooling contacts into a greater network, they’ll silo their talent and never realize the extended network they could reach. Especially when it comes to referrals.
Information-sharing and data centralization policies are the keys here. Maximizing the reach of your talent network starts with culture shift. Even if each team stays on a separate ATS or HCM, you can still use a unifying single solution to engage candidates and automate referral requests for open positions across the corporation.
Keep in mind, just because they’re a contact from the marketing talent pool doesn’t mean they don’t have friends with some serious software development chops (or whomever you’re hiring next). Making it easy for your network to share any of your company’s jobs and refer friends, whatever division’s list they’re on, can turn your referral buckets into a viral recruiting success.
2. Limited Redeployment or Internal Mobility
Missed opportunity: Retaining your best internal talent — and their institutional knowledge.
Back when lifetime employment was the norm, companies filled 90% of jobs from within — via internal mobility, like promotions and lateral moves. Today, fewer than 30% of companies even consider internal employees a valuable source for candidates.
Reasons for this mindset shift vary, from lack of investment in professional development to not tracking how internal candidates perform nor ROI on recruitment activities. HR departments are often ill-equipped to recommend candidates for moves across divisions, and recruiters rarely open these posts to internal job boards anyway. Hiring managers are also wary of looking over the wall at someone else’s talent. (Lest the same thing happen to them.)
Employers who think bigger picture value professional development within the organization, as well as the priceless nature of institutional knowledge. It’s in the company’s best interest to keep top talent — but it might require training to help hiring managers embrace that bigger picture.
The trick to redeployment and internal mobility is ongoing engagement with employees, using regular check-ins to know where they stand with their jobs and how their skills might be best applied — and nurtured. Instead of waiting for annual reviews, smart employers can automate this outreach and personalize how to process what comes back.
By working together, HR, recruiters and divisional hiring managers can look at the bigger picture, make smarter moves and see their internal talent as the valuable resource it is.
3. Lagging Time-To-Hire
Missed opportunity: Top talent scooped up by faster offers.
It’s no secret that a slow hiring process kills your chances of landing the top talent you need. Time is of the essence, whatever your industry. Large companies are renowned for moving at a snail’s pace. They don’t have to be.
Guidance abound on how to audit your candidate experience and optimize your hiring process. But silos tend to slow hiring most by barricading communication and limiting talent sourcing. Recruiters might stumble keeping up with different department’s hiring requirements or get held up waiting on feedback from another division’s feedback.
Visibility into the hiring process, with hard, fast deadlines (with penalties for noncompliance) can keep communication fluid between HR, recruiting and each team.
Time-to-hire, however, isn’t simply a metric you’re meeting for candidate satisfaction. Your company needs to hire people, fast, to keep productivity moving. Tapping into the potential of your corporate talent pool with a sound referral strategy can grow your reach, exponentially, and deliver the caliber of talent job boards just can’t beat.
Furthermore, looking inside and staying engaged with temporary and permanent talent will help you see the potential in your internal talent pool. Not only do redeployment and internal mobility increase retention and maintain institutional knowledge within your business, it cuts the time it takes to onboard new employees and get them up to speed.
Put Your Opportunities Here, Instead
Candidate engagement and referral management are essential functions large employers must master to optimize their candidate experiences and make their employer brands stand out. Getting all teams on the same page when it comes to hiring, no matter their expertise, can make or break your chances to land the right talent, every time you hire.
Tapping into a single solution that unifies the ATS or HCM tools your cross-divisional recruiters use can not only deliver a cohesive candidate experience, but grow your referral network, exponentially, and make your operation able to streamline and scale with the growing demands of business.