Silos manifest themselves on a daily basis, undermining profits, performance and productivity costing a corporation millions. The secret to breaking down silos is accepting the fact you have a silo problem. To deny that you have silos obstructing growth and performance is in fact creating a silo. Once you accept the problem, then you can begin to reduce losses and optimize your potential.

Silos have different meanings to different people within the organization. Senior executives it’s profits – management it’s performance – employee it’s productivity (or paycheck). Here are the 10 signs of silos from “C-Suite to Cubicle” that provide a glimpse into the not so mysterious world of silos.


1. I’m Giving My Two-Weeks Notice (Turnover): If you’re losing your top tier talent to competitors or they fail to meet expectations, it’s a sign of a silo. If top talent is leaving or you cannot recruit top talent, then that’s an organizational by-product of several silos that constrict a talented workforce from hiring to firing.

2. The Company Thanks Me with a Paycheck (Bureaucracy): If you have too many employees who feel disenfranchised, then they are working for a paycheck. Often doing their time of 40 hours a week, coasting and undermining employee morale and culture.



3. Those Guys at Corporate Don’t Get It (Step-Child): The farther your associates are away from HQ, the more silos come into play, causing non-compliance, ineffectiveness and inconsistent practices.

Big Deal

4. Those Guys Outside of Corporate Don’t Get It (Potomac Fever): The closer to the top you get, the farther away you are from solving problems. The powerful silo is executive hubris that creates blinders. More formality, more reports, more meetings, and less feel for the workforce will give birth to silos.


5. Another Employee Survey? (Night Light): Too many surveys look for satisfaction, but rarely solicit meaningful input to help employees find more meaning and purpose in their work. Most employees see the survey as a night light trying to illuminate the entire house. Therefore, surveys, for the most part, just reaffirm negative perceptions of corporate being out of touch and the survey is covering someone’s backside.

6. Meeting About Meetings? (Double Jeopardy): Wonder why you have so many meetings? It’s obvious – silos. Getting into the same room together and directly communicating keeps the silos outside the room, but in fact, it only strengthens them. When you get to having too many meetings, then work suffers, deadlines are missed and stress fractures performance.


7. Employee of the Month (Shooting Stars): Recognizing employees who went the extra mile is good, but a formalized, predictable program is counter-productive. For every employee showcased in the EOM, there are nine employees who feel overlooked. Perceptions of brown nosing, gaming the system and “managers’ pet” just builds silos. Randomized recognition breaks down these type of silos.

Employee of the Month

8. That’s Not How We Do It Here (Step-Child): Whether you’re across the world, country or department, corporate policies are too theoretical when you have to perform your job. You call it improvising or just getting the job done. Which came first, the silo or the egg?

9. That’s Not in My Job Description (Anti-Hero): Ever come across someone who is more focused on what he/she is not supposed to do versus focused on doing what needs to get done? It’s either a clunker of a hire or it may be an achievement-minded employee who has taken on way too much work from other folks and simply burnt out. Regardless it’s a silo that started with the job description and hire.

Email 1

10. Can You Resend the Email? (Machine Gunner): Sent an email days ago and it never got looked at or you didn’t see it come in your Inbox? Ever happen? If so, that’s evidence of a silo. There’s always someone who professes that they get over 200 emails a day, maybe you. Yes, it gives the impression that that person/you are very busy, but it also is a warning of key information getting lost or overlooked. This leads to delaying productivity and meeting deadlines.

These 10 signs of silos are the most basic evidence that the corporate structure needs a renovation. There are almost as many silos as there are employees, so leaders and managers must identify the systems, processes and practices that fail to empower the majority of people make up the workforce.


Thankfully, the solutions to silos are found within the organization. Yes, it’s about the organizational culture, but silos have several beginnings from command & control to punching the clock. So where to begin is key and depends on the type of organization framework you have in place.

The more you notice the silos that act like the devil on your shoulder, the more ability you have in breaking them down. The key is putting a system in place that empowers and engages. Look for more in the Secret Silos Series by SL7 Communications. Go to www.PatrickSlevin.com for more on the series and services.


Bull Silo

Are You a Silo Psycho? is part of SL7 Communications New Series, Revealing the Secrets Behind Silos. Be sure to sign up on www.patrickslevinblog.com to get the series and other thought-provoking insights from Patrick Slevin.

THE CRAZY THING ABOUT SILOS is they are viewed as allusive shadows hiding within the corridors of today’s organizations. Silos are responsible for keeping good companies from becoming great and great companies from becoming greater.

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First tip in breaking down silos is knowing that silos are not shadows, but real obstacles casting shadows on employee satisfaction, employee productivity and employee achievement.

Silos are the unseen force that explains why organizations fail good employees and why bad employees fail good organizations.

Yet, silos don’t get enough credit or attention in response to its destructive nature. Silos are studied, discussed and written about, but surprisingly, very few professionals know where to look for them. Or what to do when they stumble upon them.

So what is an organizational silo?

An organizational silo exists much like electricity. It’s out there, but hidden. You don’t see it or feel it until it shocks you. Conductors of silos are barriers, boundaries, borders, systems, processes, policies, language, and infrastructure that ineffectively communicate the vision, mission and values of the organization. The result is noncompliant perspectives, behaviors and attitudes. For a good formal insight, click here on silo.



The latest attempts to identify silos is called “Silo Mentality”, which is defined as “lack of sharing of information” between employees, divisions, and departments. It’s argued that Silo Mentality will lead to the crashing of the corporate culture, if not the corporation itself.

No doubt, when employees don’t share information it undermines the integrity of the mission and operations of the organization. However, this term and focus is a silent silo itself, focused on fixing just one of a multitude of silos. The Silo Mentality’s lens is too narrow and creates a false sense of solution. In reality, Silo Mentality and other would-be employee engagement models are only treating the symptoms with a false sense of success in curing the disease.

Team Silo

We experience the clues left behind by silos every day. So much so, that we accept it as part of the norm. Here’s a sample of comments and attitudes that’s serve as evidence of a silo problem in an organization:

  • “That’s not how we do things here.”
  • “Corporate has their institutional ways and we have ours!”
  • “Those folks at corporate get the better raises and promotions, while we work in the field doing more for less.”
  • “That’s not in my job description.”
  • “That’s not my problem.”
  • “My employer thanks me with a paycheck every two weeks.”
  • “We’ve always done it that way before, so why change?”
  • “Those guys in the ______ department have their own language.”
  • “We don’t need any help.”
  • “Be sure to send an email to cover your ass.”
  • “I do nine things right, but get reprimanded for the 10th thing I didn’t do right.”
  • “If you don’t like it here, then why are you staying?”
  • “I don’t like my boss.”
  • “I don’t like my report.”
  • “The new girl will not last long.”

Who hasn’t heard one, if not all of these comments made around the watercooler? You’ve probably said a few yourself over the course of your career. These sentiments create fractals of negatively charged perceptions that multiple, like a virus, spreading across and weakening the organization. Not to mention, distract you from you objectives at work.

The first secret to tearing down Silos is knowing that they exist in plain sight.

We live in a world where instead of being thankful for what we have and finding satisfaction, we are focused on what we don’t have and become (fill in the ______) envious, jealous, isolated, resentful, unmotivated, depressed, stressed, disengaged, indifferent etc. I’m sure you know co-workers, acquaintances and even family members who fit this description. If may even describe you! If so, that’s ok, because there’s a pathway, if you choose it.

This cynical perspective is unfortunate, but it helps explain why we don’t see silos in plain sight, which empowers its destructive force. This leads to the second secret to reveal.

The second secret to tearing down silos is knowing we are the silos and we are the solutions.

Silos dwell, fester and thrive in nearly every one of us. They not only exist in the workplace, but in our families and in society (that’s another article). Organizations are not made up of brick & mortar, command & control and policy & procedures, but made up of people who affirm and define the corporate culture that often includes silos.

I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not going to give corporate leaders and executives a pass for the silos within their organizations and your organization. They are responsible for providing a work environment that gives meaning, purpose and empowerment in the work you do. In fact, in my next article in this series, I will provide secrets on how corporate leaders can overcome silos from “C-Suite to Cubicle”.  A clue on how to do it will involve an unusual fish in the ocean, but let’s get back to you.

There are three main employees in the workforce: 1). Employees who overcome silos and become rock stars; 2). Employees who shadow box with silos and still maintain a level of productivity; 3). Employees who use silos as excuses for their poor performance.

Sinking the Ship

It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO or the intern. Silos are an obstacle for you to overcome to be successful. The key is understanding what you will do once you identify it.

As a CEO, it’s a matter of motivating employees to assign meaning and purpose to the mission – this often ranks higher than compensation in employee surveys. Moreover, it’s about communicating a vision and values that empower employees. We will look at the corporate “structure” and how to optimize your employee and stakeholder communications platforms that break down silos in my next article coming out soon.

If you’re a professional or an employee, it’s a matter of controlling how you respond in your workplace to silos. If you don’t find meaning in what you do, then take charge of your career and life.

In the context of where you work and what you do, become the solution by exorcising whatever silo constructs have fused themselves to you. At the end of the day, you’re in charge of you, so don’t become “Silo Psycho”.

This means, don’t affirm or validate the silo in your response. If you do, then you’re helping cast shadows and spreading the disease within your team, department, division, region and organization.

We don’t have control over many things in life, but we have 100 percent control over our attitudes and how we respond to adversity.

Share your observations, insights and expertise to make your professional experience more meaningful. If you do that, then you will overcome silos and become a rock star in your company. Once you achieve that, then you can help your fellow associates and company rise above the silos keeping others from experiencing their full potential.

If you choose not to, then the shadows of the silos will darken the corridors of your mind.

Spooky Silo

Are You a Silo Psycho? is part of SL7 Communications Series, Revealing the Secrets Behind Silos. Be sure to sign up on www.patrickslevinblog.com to get the series and other thought-provoking insights from Patrick Slevin.

About Patrick Slevin

Patrick Slevin is a motivational and communications professional leading his firm, SL7 Communications. Patrick is a former mayor, Fortune 500 manager, national trade association director and international agency executive. As a “special projects consultant”, Patrick identifies, designs, and implements innovative solutions for his clients.

If silos are keeping your team, division, department, region or corporation from going from great to greater, then contact Patrick to discuss how he may serve and help resolve your silo challenges.

For more information go to www.PatrickSlevin.com.

Or contact Patrick directly to schedule an exploratory, confidential call at 850.597.0423 or pslevin68@gmail.com.



SlevinNote: This is the first of a series of articles covering the emergence of corporate grassroots lobbying. Be sure to sign up for future blog posts for complete coverage.

Corporate grassroots lobbying has led to an estimated $1 billion-a-year industry and it’s growing. In today’s political and social environments, an increasing number of C-Suite executives have realized they need more than big PAC checks and high-powered lobbyists to achieve their public affairs strategies.


It’s the smart move, because the influence of NGOs, public scrutiny of corporate responsibility and reporting, and high-profile issue legislation have made grassroots lobbying a vital part of corporate political management.


Corporate grassroots lobbying has long been considered taboo and a political affront to CSR and reputation management programs. Ironically, what was once considered a contradiction to corporate good works has now become an emerging public affairs sub-specialty charged with protecting and promoting the corporation’s reputation on the political stage.

In larger public corporations, corporate communications is mainly entrusted with the image, identity and reputation of the company. The notion of public affairs now sharing that responsibility has exposed cultural barriers or silos preventing seamless operation, but that’s another blog article in our series of coverage.

The fact is corporate leaders must break down silos and corporate blind spots to effectively integrate their resources to obtain the strategic high ground in the field.



Citizen activist groups and anti-capitalism special interests have an extensive grassroots playbook (literally) that successfully mobilizes citizens, consumers and voters to attack, erode and weaken a corporation’s reputation and an industry’s credibility.

By generating negative grassroots impressions, activist groups are able to shape public opinion, or at least project an inflated “majority” viewpoint, that adversely influences political outcomes. Highly regulated industries are often engaged in controversial legislation that always seems to come down to one key legislator “sitting on the fence”.

Advocacy 3

More often than not, he/she typically sides with his/her visible and vocal constituents from the home district over a platoon of corporate and association lobbyists at the Capitol.

Corporations lose more than just high-profile legislative battles. They also suffer a damaged reputation in the eyes of stakeholders including community leaders, vendors, employees, investors, business media, bloggers, industry associations, public officials and most importantly, consumers.

Corporations no longer have to sing solo. They can organize a chorus of stakeholders who are eager to participate in grassroots advocacy campaigns.

Corporate grassroots lobbying is rapidly augmenting direct lobbying. According to a recent study, firms that cater to corporate clients to help promote their image and build and mobilize community coalitions are also more likely to provide direct lobbying services. More than 43 percent of grassroots lobbying firms are now providing some level of government affairs representation.

How this impacts direct lobbying firms not offering grassroots lobbying remains to be seen. I’ve worked with many lobbyists who are savvy and counsel their clients to retain grassroots public relations firms. However, I suspect a percentage of firms will expand their inside lobbying services to include outside lobbying, which is comprised of public relations consultation, stakeholder education and engagement, and grassroots mobilization.

As in any industry that’s rapidly growing, there’s mistakes and causalities. When done haphazardly, corporate grassroots lobbying can be “Astroturf” or a manufactured façade simply managed by hired political operatives hiding behind the curtain. This happens much too often and can seriously damage both lobbying efforts and reputations. In today’s digital age, it’s very easy for legislators and media to sniff out an Astroturf campaign, so avoid it at all costs.


SlevinIf done correctly, however, grassroots lobbying will complement corporate responsibility initiatives and GRI Reporting priorities i.e. safeguard reputation. More importantly, it will create favorable stakeholder impressions that elevate direct lobbying efforts that improve the political odds for legislative and regulatory success. That one key legislator who was “sitting on the fence” will now have the political cover to vote for pro-business, pro-market and often times, pro-consumer legislation.

However, it comes down to how the well the corporate grassroots lobbying campaign is designed, organized and executed.

In Part II of my Corporate Grassroots Lobbying series, I will address corporate “best practices” for grassroots lobbying to ensure compliance with corporate governance, while effectively engaging stakeholders on the political stage. We will explore how best practices optimize unilateral initiatives and bolster bilateral or coalition endeavors.

Be sure to follow my blog so you can continue to follow the series.

You can also find out more about my professional background by going to “Profile” page on the site.

About Patrick Slevin

Patrick Slevin is a motivational and communications professional leading his firm, SL7 Communications. Patrick is a former mayor, Fortune 500 manager, national trade association director and international agency executive. Corporate leaders from around the country have retained Patrick for his strategic counsel, campaign leadership and organizational solutions.

For more information go to www.PatrickSlevin.com. Or contact Patrick directly to schedule an exploratory, confidential call at 850.597.0423 or pslevin68@gmail.com.