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We recently wrote about 5 Things Schools Do Better Than Most Corporates for Success which offered invaluable lessons in running organisations from the unique perspective of schools. There is one area however that both schools and big corporates frequently struggle with: silo mentality. Here are some strategies for breaking through a silo culture.

Success in school work placeSchools and Silo Mentality

The community is by far one of the greatest strengths of a typical primary school or high school environment.

They share similar values of wanting kids to get the most out of their education and everyone, from teachers to parents, the executive and office staff to the P&C, suppliers and even the community at large, want their school to be successful.

Despite these groups being on the same page in values and wanting the best for the children, however, they often work independently and isolation. This kind of environment lends itself to a Silo Mentality, a common workplace culture challenge.

Silo Mentality, as defined by the Business Dictionary, is a mindset present in some companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce the efficiency of the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.

This sounds like a harsh description I know but it is an easy environment to cultivate if your employees/stakeholders are working independently or in isolation like a teacher in a classroom, departments or faculties, or a member of a P&C working with no committee.

From my perspective, as a facilitator frequently engaged to break down silos in organisations, silo culture usually starts in the Executive Team. Every leader is dedicated, driven and wants the best for their division but sometimes with this drive comes an internal focus rather than a collaborative one.

How Do We Breakdown Silos?

Effective communication and Team Intelligence. Here’s something taken from an article on problems that keep CEOs up at night on how to strengthen Team Intelligence.

Team Intelligence (TeamQ™) is all about teams working together intelligently to improve performance, communication, and ultimately ensure retention of the best team members. It’s where teams build collaborative relationships, communicate openly, and identify strategies for moving forward as a cohesive unit and working to their full potential.

smiley stampStrengthening it is all in the magic of communication, and the great news about communication is it is not rocket science! It does, however, need to be honest, authentic and allow for safe conflict.

Here are 10 ways to immediately improve your communication

Schools and Team Intelligence (TeamQ™)

Team Intelligence™ is not a new concept for those of us working in education. Teachers in a classroom use team intelligence all day long to get their teams (kids) working together collaboratively to improve performance, communication, and overall satisfaction. They draw on natural abilities, personal experience and attributes to take the whole group to the next level.

This wonderful collaborative environment, however, is all too often closed off at the bell, kept within the classroom and not shared in the tea room or in the playground. We’ve written a lot about how to improve an organisation’s success. So now here’s something especially for a school environment. Here are 2 ways to improve your school’s success culture through effective communication and team intelligence.

2 Ways to Improve your School’s Success Culture

1: Share Your Knowledge Share your experiences and insights from your day with your colleague.  Perhaps it’s something you learned in a personal development day. Have you heard of The Protege Effect? The Protege Effect is a great way to bring teams together.

Here’s a quick rundown: For centuries we have known that if you want to perform better, then teach others.  So say you have been doing a course to better your general communication skills, something that everyone could benefit from. Identify someone in your ‘team’ you’d like to share your learning with and then teach that someone what you have learned and ask that person to implement the new skill or approach with you.

2: Stretch Yourself Connect and share your valuable insights and experiences with a colleague you don’t normally communicate with.  Or share it with parents. Believe me, you have an engaged audience here who really cares about your subject. They might have some team intelligence that will build upon what you share. They might even turn into your biggest advocate for whatever it is you are implementing or trying out, in order to improve your shared value (giving kids a great education experience).

3: Think Team Although many people enjoy working in the school system because it isn’t like a corporate structure with all its politics, the benefits of thinking a little like a corporate organisation can be instrumental in accelerating success.

See, what corporates do well is they nurture the business side of a team.  They encourage the interactions of staff to be commercial and success focussed, and if you think about it, schools are commercial.  They are often driven by funding to get the best resources, human and physical, for the good of the students. With that in mind, it is important to engage with your colleagues as such.  As lovely as the ‘family feel’ can be of a school, discussing goals, outcomes, challenges of the children, school teams also need to learn from each other, collaborate and challenge each other professionally – and of course to champion each other.   


Like with corporate organisations wanting to create a culture of success. School’s still need to understand their Why and define their shared values for success but working on our team intelligence lies in the magic of communication. Something we can practice in every given moment.

Get connecting.