How to avoid collaboration overload? (+7 strategies explained)
In this blogpost, we will be discussing different ways to avoid collaboration overload. We will also be defining what collaboration overload is and the various factors that lead to it. Organizations are more keenly observing collaborative practices. However, the very factors that are meant to increase productivity can sometimes impede it.
How to avoid collaboration overload?
Collaboration overload in the workplace can be avoided using the following strategies:
- Clarifying roles and responsibilities
- Listening to team members
- Supporting team members
- Providing adequate training
- Cutting down on meetings
- Using the right team-bonding strategies
- Choosing the right collaboration tools
Effective collaboration can bring many positive features to a workplace, in addition to increased productivity. According to a study, 3 out of 4 employees state that collaboration is indeed essential in the workplace. However, collaboration overload has to be avoided at all costs. The measures to avoid collaboration overload are explained below:
Clarifying roles and responsibilities
Once the goals are set, team leaders need to assign tasks and duties to the different team members. In this phase, the team leader has to ensure the right role goes to the right person. It is important to keep in mind not only the various skill sets and expertise a person may have, but also their personalities and their method of working.
With a role comes a set of responsibilities. The team members who understand and accept their responsibilities tend to fulfill them in a more effective manner. Thus, clarifying roles and responsibilities among the team members is important.
Listening to team members
Listening to team members doesn’t only mean paying attention while they are giving new ideas and innovations. It also means listening to them while they are venting or complaining about various issues. In a collaborative environment, every team member’s opinion is considered valuable and important.
And it is necessary to listen to them, especially if they are expressing discontentment. The more a team leader listens to their team members, the better they can avoid the risk of over-collaboration.
Supporting team members
Team members need to work in a positive and supportive environment. When employees don’t feel supported, they would gradually stop actively collaborating with other team members. They might also bring bad practices inside the team.
Ultimately, it leads to lesser work productivity and missing deadlines. Creating a supportive environment for the team members helps them collaborate efficiently, thus avoiding collaboration overloads.
Providing adequate training
Not every employee comes to a team with the right collaborative skills. It is up to the management and the leaders to ensure the team members are trained adequately for this. When team members are aware of the right collaborative practices, it helps the team avoid over-collaboration. It also ensures that the collaborative tools and methods are used properly.
Cutting down on meetings
While meetings are important in workplaces, holding too many meetings can lead to a collaborative overload. It can also lead to a decrease in further collaboration and conflicts between team members. Having too many meetings can also make team members value the interactions less and thus not pay enough attention.
Using the right team-bonding strategies
Team-building strategies are a great way to create bonding between team members. They allow individuals to express themselves and learn about everyone’s personal lives, their skill-sets and expertise.
However, using the wrong team-bonding strategies can lead to the wrong kind of collaboration. While choosing team-bonding strategies, the team leader should keep the identity of the team in mind as well as the specific aim of the team-bonding process itself.
Choosing the right collaboration tools
Since collaboration tools are becoming increasingly used in organizations, using the right tool is essential. There are many collaboration tools available, offering different features and customizations. While implementing a collaboration tool in the organization, management has to carefully consider their needs and choose the tool with the right features.
What is collaboration overload?
Collaboration overload happens when team members spend more time in collaborative activities rather than completing their actual tasks at work. Members might interact more with each other about the project, thus creating distractions.
Those employees at higher levels might also be disturbed more as they are constantly asked for opinions or suggestions. Since collaboration overload is not easy to be aware of, it can become long before something is done to stop it.
What are the causes of collaboration overload?
Collaboration overload can be caused due to many different factors. The most commonly cited reasons for collaboration overload are explained below:
There is too much communication
Communication, while important, has to be done right in order to be effective. If there is too much communication with the aim of collaboration, it can actually be counter-productive to the collaborative practice. Communication between the team members has to be regular but appropriate.
The collaboration is not structured
When the collaboration is not implemented in an organized manner, it can lead to collaboration overload. The collaboration itself has to be implemented at the right time in the right manner for it to be effective.
There are no ground rules
A collaboration done randomly tends to become ineffective. It can also lead to over-collaboration. There has to be a set of ground rules that team members need to follow for the collaborative process. This will ensure that the collaboration is effective and does not boil over to become over-collaboration.
In this post, we have discussed the different ways to avoid collaboration overload. We have also explained what collaboration overload is. In addition, the various factors that lead to over-collaboration have been mentioned.
Frequently asked questions: (How to avoid collaboration overload?)
What prevents collaboration?
Collaboration can be hindered by many factors in the organization. The three most common factors that prevent collaboration are explained as follows:
Lack of active listening in the workplace
When team members don’t listen properly to each other, it can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings in the workplace. Team leaders need to encourage active listening, where the message is dispensed and received correctly. Active listening can also create stronger bonds and solve conflicts.
No mutual trust and respect
Though trust and respect are not factors that occur overnight, they are extremely valuable to an organization. Team members communicate better when they trust their colleagues. This leads to better communication and a more efficient completion of projects.
Everyone is on different pages
For a team to work as a unit, it is important that all the members share great understanding. When everyone is on the same page about the project, the goals and the process, there is a more effective collaboration.
When should you not collaborate?
Even though collaboration is essential to the smooth functioning of an organization, there are times when it should not be encouraged or should be reduced in the team. The times when collaboration should not be implemented as discussed in the following list.
When the organizational culture does not support collaboration
An organization’s culture sets the values and principles which make up the ground rules for collaboration. Sometimes, an organization’s culture is such that it does not support collaboration. Instead, it would deter the process or make it counterproductive to the organizational goals. This is commonly seen in traditional organizations where a strict vertical hierarchy is being followed.
When there is no time for collaboration
Effective collaboration takes a lot of time and effort. Many factors necessary for collaboration like trust and respect don’t occur in a team immediately. However, there might be several projects or tasks that need to be executed immediately. This will not give the team or individuals involved time to collaborate. In this case, collaboration itself can be avoided.
When the collaboration process becomes costly
Collaboration does not come to an organization free of cost. Not only does it need investment of time and effort, but many collaborative practices require a lot of money. This can be particularly seen in collaboration tools.
Digital collaboration tools that offer many versatile features as well as strong security are not cheap. When the collaborative activity itself becomes very expensive, it becomes an unnecessary burden for the company.
How can I improve my collaboration skills?
While workplace collaborative skills are a great asset to your profile, they don’t come naturally to everyone. However, there are several ways you can improve your collaboration skills. A few examples of these are explained below:
Working with a mentor
Mentors are those who are experienced and knowledgeable in a particular field. They guide proteges in the same field who are not as experienced. Finding a mentor in your field who has great collaborative skills can be helpful. You can also work with a mentor who is specialized in collaborative skills and can help you with yours.
Networking on social media
Joining social media groups that have members from the same industry as you can also be a useful way to learn collaboration. These members can teach you professional etiquette, and also demonstrate different techniques that you can use in your workplace.
Since these groups tend to be semi-formal, this is a comfortable way of getting acquainted with others, especially if you are an introverted person.
Stepping outside your comfort zone
Learning a new skill is quite challenging and requires you to step out of your comfort zone. This can also be taking up new projects that are not familiar to you. This will not only allow you to learn new skills but also collaborate with new teams under different leaders. Working on new projects can teach you collaborative skills like inter-dependency, communication and trust.
What are the different types of collaboration tools?
Collaboration tools are of different types, intended to serve various needs in an organization. Some types of collaboration skills are:
Instant messaging tools
These tools are meant to be used for instant messaging purposes. They can be used both synchronously and asynchronously. With instant messaging, team members can communicate with each other easily, while also being physically distant from one another.
Video-calling or Video-conferencing tools
Video calling and conferencing has become widely used today, especially since remote working has become common. Through video calling, team members can see each other even while working from different locations. Video-conferencing can be used to conduct meetings with groups through a virtual mode. This also helps organizations cut down the costs of collaboration.
These collaboration tools are used by team members to share files and documents with each other. They improve the access of information and thus promote project completions.
More and more companies are switching to cloud technology for file storage and access. This helps in globalization of organizations where teams from all across the world can work on projects together.
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