mining-relay-silo

Mining with the wrong stockpiles

So what exactly do we mean by the wrong type of stockpiles? They are not as obvious as the ore stockpiles in mining, but are just as valuable. We are referring to employees withholding, deliberately or otherwise, valuable workplace information needed by their colleagues to make decisions and perform in their role effectively.

In this blog, we discuss silos and what can be done to overcome them.

What is a silo mentality?

‘This is an attitude found in some organisations that occurs when several departments or groups do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same company. A silo mentality reduces efficiency and can be a contributing factor to a failing corporate culture’ – Definition from Investopedia

Information Silos in Mining

People have always found a way to overcome seeming insurmountable challenges. Reaching the North Pole, landing on the Moon, racing across the Sahara and The Barkley Marathon all spring to mind (the last one is a definite watch for any Netflix enthusiast).

Some companies have managed to do similar feats where offshore oil fields, deep underground mining and major civil engineering projects all require steadfast approaches and a serious amount of teamwork. The most challenging professional working environments we have first-hand experience of lies within the Mining Industry. The demands placed by shareholders on continual production and output are second to none, and when you compound this with government expectations, increasing fuel and labour costs, the profit margins in this high value industry quickly diminish.

All of this places a massive amount of pressure on the management teams to deliver results. Making sure this team, the ones that make the key decisions, are set up to succeed has to be the most important aspect of the organisation. Well you would think so, wouldn’t you? In order to keep the machine running, mines operate a 24/7 working pattern to minimise production and processing downtime wherever possible. The result of this demand can create a silo mentality and it’s this phenomenon which presents a major challenge to creating high performing teams.

A Culture of Isolation

When we talk about silo mentality, we generally talk about teams and departments not sharing information with each other and operating in isolation. This is often a complaint mentioned within mining, however it goes one level deeper. This is into the rotation cycle within job-sharing roles. The silo effect eats away at collaboration within the team and results in a blame culture emerging across shifts and rotations. This culture is so very hard to get away from, and it becomes more difficult to manage when the accountable manager is cut-off from key information by those in subordinate roles. The anarchy or need to react to situations as a result of isolation drives the wrong type of management (stepping down) and the wrong type of praise to be sought and received.

A few examples:

  • A colleague forgot to order a part and unable to complete work resulting in downtime..
  • Operator mistake that caused a setback with being able to attain the short-term plan.
  • Items continually being rescheduled, such as training or preventative maintenance.

Embracing Communication

Businesses operating 24/7 rosters need to recognise this issue and work hard to reverse it.  Educating teams on the importance of consulting and sharing information will foster a more open culture. Teams need to have systems and processes in place to combat communication breakdown, and one such method is to employ a digital handover tool.

The next time you are setting out to conquer that amazing feat of engineering or production, consider implementing some modern communication tools for your business. This will encourage collaborative working and prevent the silo mentality from emerging and damaging both team performance and corporate culture.

At iHandover we provide the tools for Managers and teams to connect, grow and succeed. The challenges and issues raised in this article can be overcome with our innovative handover solution: Relay, fill out the form below to arrange a one-on-one demo today, and find out how Relay can revolutionise shift-handovers for your teams.