How can we avoid mistakes in collaboration? (+7 causes)

In this article, we will be discussing how we can avoid mistakes in collaboration. We will also be explaining the importance of collaboration for an organization and the many causes of bad collaboration. Since organizations are going global, collaboration is critical. Due to its importance, leaders need to know how to implement collaboration effectively.

How can we avoid mistakes in collaboration?

Mistakes in collaboration, leading to ineffective or bad collaboration can be avoided by:

  • Outlining a proper strategy
  • Defining clear roles and responsibilities
  • Practicing active listening
  • Creating a positive and supportive environment
  • Solving problems ahead of time
  • Ensuring proper communication
  • Providing the right training
  • Giving autonomy to teams
  • Strong teamwork

Collaborative activities take up almost 85 percent of an employee’s day. According to recent trends this number does not seem to be reducing any time soon. Sime more organizational structures are becoming flatter, they are allowing more collaboration to seep in. 

However, many organizations don’t follow the right collaborative practices leading to bad collaboration or collaboration overloads. A few ways to avoid these mistakes are discussed in this section.

Outlining a proper strategy

 For collaboration to be effective, the teams need to have a clear strategy to move forward. It is also important that all team members are on the same page about the project and the expected outcomes. It is also necessary that they be well-acquainted with the stakeholders of the project so that they better understand the budget of the project and the time-frame for the goals.

Defining clear roles and responsibilities

When the team members are familiar with the outline of the project strategy, they need to clearly understand their individual roles and responsibilities. It also becomes the team leader’s responsibility to assign roles appropriately according to the team members’ capacities and expertise. This allows the employees to take more ownership of the goal.

Practicing active listening

Active listening is greatly important in a team setting. Team members need to listen to each other, not just to listen to their complaints and feedback, but also to help each other work better. Team leaders need to intently listen to what the team members are saying and act upon them. This allows employees to feel valued by the organization and thus, they do more.

Creating a positive and supportive environment

Team leaders and management have to strive to create a positive and supportive environment for the employees if they want collaboration to work. This kind of environment allows trust between the various team members while also creating a happy work atmosphere. A positive environment translates to better employee satisfaction, thereby increasing individual productivity.

Solving problems ahead of time

Since the world is always changing, new problems and challenges can crop up anytime. Organizations need to foresee risks and tackle emerging trends before they become a major disruption. This attitude allows the team members to continually learn and update themselves, fostering a long-term commitment to the growth of the organization.

Ensuring proper communication

Without proper communication, team members will not and cannot work together. There has to be effective communication practiced in all the forms, including verbal, non-verbal as well as written communication. This ensures that all the team members are on the same page, guaranteeing a smoother workflow in the team.

Providing the right training

Collaboration skills are not naturally present in everyone. Many employees require specific training in collaborative skills. This is particularly important if the organization is implementing a new collaboration tool, or requiring a particular type of collaboration from the employees. Management has to provide the right training for the employees to enforce this.

Giving autonomy to teams

When teams are given autonomy, it leads to better work productivity. This is because the employees have a better sense of ownership to the project goals as well as the decisions being made. As a result, employees show more transparency and accountability in their tasks, thus leading to an overall increase in productivity.

Strong teamwork

Teamwork and cooperation are elements of good collaboration. Team leaders need to motivate the team members to work together as a unit if they want the collaboration to lead to great productivity. This can be implemented through many ways such as team-bonding activities, creating a strong team identity and quick conflict resolution.

Importance of good collaboration

Collaboration, when implemented effectively, brings many advantages to an organization. A few reasons why collaboration is greatly important for an organization are:

  • All the employees are aware of the organizational goals and values and work in accordance with them
  • The team members are clear about the project and their roles in it
  • It fosters teamwork and brings the employees together
  • Collaboration helps in the decision-making process
  • It turns an organization into a learning organization
  • Collaboration creates happier and healthier employees
  • It positively contributes to the organization’s business profit

Causes of bad collaboration

Bad collaborative practices in an organization can ensue because of several reasons. Some of them are:

  • The collaboration itself is not implemented in an organized or structured manner
  • There is miscommunication between employees as a result of improper or insufficient training
  • There is an excess of collaboration tools in the workplace, leading to collaboration overload
  • The organizational structure and culture are not supportive of collaboration
  • The presence of strong and defensive silos in the organization
  • There are too many meetings which employees are required to attend
  • There are no properly set ground rules or a value system for the collaborative practices


In this article, we have discussed how we can avoid mistakes in collaboration. We have also explained the importance of collaboration for an organization and the many causes of bad collaboration.

Frequently asked questions: (How can we avoid mistakes in collaboration?)

What stops us from collaboration?

Even though employees know the essentiality of collaboration and organizations continually emphasize collaborative practices, many of us don’t collaborate as much as we’re supposed to do so. We might not even collaborate at all. There are many reasons why this happens. Some of the most common obstacles of collaboration are explained below:

Individual performance is given more importance

Most organizations give more importance to individual work and performance rather than the performance of a team as a whole. When individuals are highlighted, the team identity goes for a toss and thus collaboration also fails. Individual performance is necessary and definitely has to be acknowledged. but not at the cost of that of the team as a unit.

Immediate accomplishments are rewarded

Organizations have both short-term and long-term goals. Some of the goals look deep into the future and are more focused on foreseeing risks and creating solutions for problems which are not there yet. However, when only short-term goals and their accomplishments are rewarded, then team members will not work collaboratively as they don’t see the point of it.

Business profit is appreciated more

A business organization seeks to make profit from all its sectors. While effective collaboration definitely translates to more profit for the organization, it might be overtly clear. When an organization appreciates actions that directly lead to profit and ignores actions that lead to strong team cohesion, like collaboration, team members might disengage and lose interest in it.

Team members have a fear of being judged

If team members have a fear of being judged or failing in a task, then they won’t effectively collaborate in a team. A team that has open-minded members generates more ideas and suggestions. In a judgmental team, the members might have great ideas. But they might refrain from sharing as they fear judgement or reprisal.

Introverts are not encouraged

A team can consist of members with various personalities. And each of them has a lot to give to the company. It is a common occurrence that mainly extroverts share more ideas and suggestions in team meetings and discussions. Hence, introverted employees are discouraged. This makes the organization miss out on many innovative ideas that introverts might have to offer.

There is no intrinsic motivation for collaboration

Collaboration cannot be effective if it is forced on employees. That can lead to ineffective collaboration and many bad collaborative strategies being practiced. It can also lead to conflicts between team members and an overall negative working atmosphere.

Why do collaborations fail?

Collaborations fail due to many reasons. However, the most common reason why collaborations fail is because the team members are not on the same page about the goals they need to achieve. When this happens, each team member is working toward a different thing. This can lead to conflicts and can create obstacles in the work process.

What are the barriers to collaboration?

Collaboration is not a recent trend or development in the business world. In fact, it has been happening all this while, though in varying capacities. However, there are some teams that collaborate really well and others that face constant disruption and barriers. The various barriers to collaboration are discussed as follows:

There is no proper time management

When there is no allocated time for collaboration, it will not take place effectively. Employees need to prioritize collaboration as an important part of their schedules for it to take place. However, if there is no proper time allocated or if employees simply do not have any extra time for collaboration, it becomes difficult to collaborate. Thus, collaboration itself does not happen.

The right team members are not chosen

For a team to be effective at collaboration, it needs to have the right team members who are equipped with the right skills. The right skills include a good amount of knowledge and expertise along with collaborative skills like communication, open-mindedness and conflict resolution. This will allow the collaboration process to take place smoothly.

The organizational culture is not supportive

Certain organizational cultures and structures simply do not permit or support effective collaboration. This can be seen particularly in traditional organizations where hierarchy is maintained strictly. If employees are not encouraged to speak up regardless of their position or rank in the organization, then collaboration will not happen effectively.

This can also be seen commonly in organizations which use fear to get work done. In this kind of environment, employees will have a constant fear of failure and a fear of judgement. Thus, they will not share ideas and suggestions with other team members.

Remote working as an obstacle

Remote working has offered great flexibility for many employees. It has, however, also created many challenges for collaboration in organizations. This happens particularly in organizations which have not implemented the right collaboration tool for the employees to interact with each other on a digital platform.

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