Silo busting: a talent acquisition perspective

Anthony Haynes writes: In Blamestorming and other telling signs your organization is siloed‘ (The Office Blend), Marla Gottschalk raises the question of how to prevent divisions between departments from rendering an organisational dysfunctional.

No organization likes to see itself as ‘siloed’; many would prefer to see themselves as collaborative in terms of culture — yet organizations don’t always exhibit self-awareness on where they stand on the siloed/collaborative continuum.

Gottschalk provides a perceptive checklist for identifying the symptoms of silo culture — for example, when customers are no longer central to the conversation (‘Your teams are so busy putting out fires and keeping up with the demands, that customers and clients are no longer central’).

What is our interest in this, from the point of view of a talent acquisition company?

First, our work provides a vantage point for identifying which companies are collaborative and which aren’t. When you work for a client on talent acquisition, you rarely end up working with only one department. You might well interface with not only the hiring department but also, say, HR and finance. It quickly becomes apparent whether these departments are working collaboratively with each other.

I should add that our vantage point here for seeing into companies derives in part from the recruitment situation in general — that is, it would be true for any talent acquisition consultants. But in addition, it derives from our particular philosophy of talent acquisition. As I’ve written else where on this blog (‘10 qualities of a great recruiter — plus an essential 11th‘), we think that the business of  talent acquisition, despite the managerial jargon that often swathes it, is essentially a human activity — one that depends on gaining an empathetic understanding both of recruiting organizations and candidates. So we like to get to know prospective clients as early as early in the talent acquisition as possible.

Second, we’re interested in silo-ization because it affects the choice of client. I wrote ‘prospective client’ just now because not all prospective clients become clients. From our early days we adopted a policy of not taking on clients simply because they were offering us businesses. After all, poor clients soak up time and energy. There is no better indicator of a likely poor client than evidence of silo-ization. (The corollary of this is that those clients we do take on are organizations that clearly do work collaboratively.) If an organization appears silo-ed, don’t go there!

And, third, silo-ed organizations are great fishing grounds for talent acquisition consultants. Employees in silo-ed businesses are much less likely to be fully engaged or fully developed. They are, therefore, likely prospects as candidates for roles elsewhere.

Silo-ization is bad for business in general — but especially so for a business’s employee branding.

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