In focus group discussions that I conduct at many colleges and universities to identify obstacles that prevent the delivery of excellent service, one of the most frequently mentioned is the presence of silos among departments. This is not only the case in higher education institutions, but also in many other organizations. Each department acts as an entity on its own and doesn’t show the respect and consideration to the other departments. Ultimately, this affects the external service to the end customer. Internal service has a direct correlation to external service. In other words, if my colleague is rude to me, it is very difficult for me to not take out those feelings of anger or resentment out on my customer – who may be that student or other end user.
To begin breaking down these silos, I would recommend the following activity to take place at the beginning of all staff meetings for the next 6 months.
1. Identify another department or work group on whom your department/work group depends.
2. Identify specific things your department appreciates about that other department.
3. Write a thank-you note to that department sharing all the reasons why your department appreciates them. If you have a large department, ask for a volunteer to write this note on behalf of everyone, if you have a small department, have someone write the note and everyone can sign it.
By doing this, you solidify the fact that we are all dependent on one another and by expressing our appreciation, we can strengthen our relationships. This in turn, leads to better cooperation and delivery of service to each other and our final customers.