Why do collaborations fail? (+5 ways you can fix bad collaborations)

In this blogpost, we will be looking at why collaborations fail. We will also be explaining different ways you can use to fix bad collaborations. Collaborations are not run by a single person and need everyone to be on the same page. Since collaboration is being emphasized strongly in the workplace, knowing how you can fix bad collaborations or avoid them altogether is crucial.

Why do collaborations fail?

Collaborations in the workplace can fail for many different reasons. Some of them are explained below:

  • Team-members are not clear about the goals

A collaborative team is not only defined by its effective interaction and communication within the members. It is also defined by having clear goals to achieve. These goals are shared and common to all. They can be both team as well as individual goals.

When team members lack clarity in the goals they are supposed to achieve, their work processes also suffer. While initiating collaboration in the team, the team leader should ensure that everyone has clearly understood their goals, both the common and individual ones.

  • The leadership is not effective

When the team doesn’t have an effective team leader, the functions of the team will also not be so effective. Having an effective team leader ensures the success of the team and the achievement of the team goals. Team leaders can become effective when they are confident and take ownership of the team and its goal. They should also open up communication and display the utmost sincerity and integrity.

It becomes even more confusing when there is more than one leader. This leads to quarrels and conflicts, wasting company time and efforts. Each team leader will have their own ideas on how to meet the goals, and this can only confuse the members.

  • Improper allocation of responsibilities

Many organizations do not work effectively because a few employees are doing the major chunk of the work. The others might thus micromanage them thus leading to lesser productivity and waste of company time. Allocating the workload effectively means that team members get assigned roles they are better equipped to perform. This allows them to perform the task comfortably and also equipped.

  • Creativity is not encouraged in the team

When creativity is not encouraged in a team, the productivity automatically drops. When creativity is valued in a team, it allows more ideas to flow in the workspace. These ideas can have immense potential for the team and increase their work effectiveness.

But creativity can only flow when there is a positive environment in the organization. There has to be more communication and an atmosphere that lacks judgement. In such an environment,  team members work harder to resource and formulate innovative ideas while also being ready to bring them to the table. This can only be created when there is mutual trust and respect.

  • Successes are not celebrated

As employees who are working towards achieving a certain goal, they expect to be acknowledged when they succeed at it. When achievements are not acknowledged in the workplace, individuals are not motivated to do further for the team. It can also lead to feelings of resentment and conflict in the team.

  • Team members are not fully engaged

The higher the levels of engagement in the team, the better the work gets done. When employees are engaged with a project and have individual responsibilities to fulfill, they will collaborate better with each other.

Ways to fix bad collaborations

Bad collaborations are those that are not effective and lessen the productivity of a team. They can also lead to feelings of hostility and negatively impact the organizational culture. The following list discusses many different ways to fix bad collaborations.

  • There needs to be a specific aim for the collaboration

If the organization is implementing collaboration without a specific purpose, the team members will not perceive it as something meaningful. The entire collaboration process has to be driven with a purpose so that team members connect to it in a deeper manner. It also will be helpful if the aim itself focuses on something more than business.

  • Every team needs an identity

Every group of people automatically develops a culture of their own. This can derive not only from their shared vision and values but also from their communication styles, work policies, etc. Instead of expecting all teams to collaborate in the same manner, individual identity should be encouraged and showcased. When teams thrive on their identities, they also develop legitimacy which then leads to better team work and team effectiveness.

  • Fix the organizational culture

A team in an organization doesn’t work on its own. Though they might have all the right human resources and skill sets, they still are part of a larger unit which is the organization. If the organizational culture and climate are not positive to collaboration, then it will ultimately fail.

Organizational culture itself stems from their original vision and the values that are shared by all. When an organization has more trust and understanding in its people, it shows that it has a great culture that can positively affect collaboration.

  • Avoid over-collaboration

A mistake that many organizations make is over collaboration. This is when too many collaboration tools are used in the process. This not only increases the workloads of the employees but can also lead to miscommunication and mismanagement. It usually happens because the collaboration tools have been selected without careful consideration.

While choosing the collaboration tool, it is essential that we look at the needs of the organization first. It is also important to choose a tool that can offer multiple features like instant messaging, file-sharing, video-conferencing and such. This avoids too many tools coming into the picture, thus eliminating bad collaboration.

  • Supporting remote teams

Since remote working doesn’t seem to be leaving the work culture anytime soon, extra efforts need to be taken to improve collaboration among remote teams. Since remote workers cannot meet each other physically, they often are left out of meetings and other workplace interactions.

However, remote workers also need to be included in the collaborations. Since an organization needs to use every resource it has to the fullest, supporting remote workers can go a long way in work productivity. Many organizations are using digital collaboration tools for better social collaboration among remote workers these days.


In this blogpost, we have explained why collaborations fail. We have also looked at different ways you can use to fix bad collaborations.

Frequently asked questions:

Why do people not want to collaborate?

People in an organization usually refrain from collaborating for various reasons. Some of them are discussed below.

  • The organizational culture is not aligned with collaboration

When an organizational culture doesn’t support collaboration, its employees also won’t be ready to practice it. Many organizations still follow a traditional hierarchical structure. In these organizations, only a few people have full access to information and know about the company goals and vision.

Traditional structures cannot implement collaboration and even if they do, it will not be effective. When an organization has a flatter structure and a culture that supports inter-level communication, collaboration can be easily implemented. The people of such an organization will also be more ready to collaborate since they are working in a pro-collaborative culture.

  • They have tried collaborating and failed at it

The past experiences of people affect their present choices. If employees have already tried collaborating before and found that the process has failed, they would not be ready to try it again. They might have experienced it at their previous organizations or at the present one under a former leader. The experience might have also been negative and painful for some employees, leading them to refrain from collaborating and focusing more on individual tasks.

  • The leaders don’t strongly advocate collaboration

 When team leaders themselves don’t support collaboration, the team members also won’t give it much importance. When team members see their leaders advocating collaboration and practicing it daily, they automatically model their example. Leaders who follow a collaborative style tend to be more communicative, more open & honest and show high levels of integrity.

What can go wrong with collaboration?

When collaboration is not implemented effectively in the workplace, many things can go wrong. The policy that was meant to be positive can turn out to be something toxic and negative. A few things that can go wrong with collaboration are explained below.

  • Group-thinking can become more frequent

Some teams work so closely with each other that the group-phenomenon becomes very common. Groupthink is when the same idea is accepted by everyone easily or is repeated often during brainstorming. Groupthink can happen when there is no creative or innovative spirit in the team. It can also happen when there is a fear of opening up or voicing out opinions in the discussions.

  • There can be conflicts

While collaboration promotes communication and feedback, conflicts can also arise. These conflicts can never be avoided. But when there is effective conflict-resolution, they don’t fester into big problems. Many employees stifle their voices because they are worried about conflicts. A good team leader would encourage honest opinions while showing capability to resolve conflicts at the same time.

  • Collaborations can be costly

For collaboration to be effective, organizations need to spend resources like time and money. Some collaboration tools necessary for communication and project management may need to be bought or subscribed to, creating additional expenditure for the company. These issues can discourage organizations from the process of collaboration itself. But they can be resolved with proper planning and execution.

  • Digital collaboration may not always be possible

While physical connection may always be possible in an organization, digital collaboration may not be so. Digital collaboration needs a stable internet or data connection all the time. This might not always be available, especially in remote areas. Internet connections can be unstable in rural areas and companies located in these regions may prefer physical meetings and non-cloud based file-sharing systems.

What are the consequences of poor collaborative working?

Poor collaborative working can lead to many different negative consequences in the workplace. A few are mentioned below:

  • Poor collaborative working can affect the morale of the organization
  • It can affect the team-cohesion in a negative manner
  • Employees tend to get stressed
  • The productivity levels decrease
  • Both organizational and individual goals are not met



5 Reasons Collaboration Fails







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