Career Development

5 Common Collaboration Problems and How To Manage Them

October 14, 2021

Efficient collaboration can have an enormous influence on the success of a company, business or project. As you work, you may encounter various challenges that can make it difficult to collaborate effectively. Understanding how to resolve collaboration issues can help you boost your team's efficiency, increase your productivity and improve the effectiveness of your communication strategies. In this article, we define what collaboration problems are, list common collaboration difficulties and offer helpful solutions for approaching collaboration problems.

What are collaboration problems?

Collaboration problems are communication, productivity or personality conflicts that can deter the success of a group working together on an activity or project. If not addressed quickly, collaboration challenges can affect many project aspects, like budget, timeline, resources and personnel. Learning to identify potential problems before they escalate can help project teams work together and effectively accomplish their tasks.

Related: Teamwork and Collaboration: What They Are and How To Improve Them

Why is it important to manage collaboration challenges?

It's important to manage collaboration challenges because, unaddressed, they can affect productivity, team morale, customer satisfaction and successful project completion. By managing challenges effectively, team members and leaders can facilitate conversations and improve the efficiency of their teams. Early action can help teams overcome obstacles and work together. Supplying teams with helpful strategies and ideas for more effective communication can also equip them with problem-solving skills they can use in the future. Handling challenges as they arise can build team morale, save valuable time and money and help keep projects and activities focused.

5 common collaboration obstacles and how to manage them

Here are some common collaboration challenges you might encounter when working with a team:

1. Communication

Communication is an essential aspect of collaboration. When teams communicate effectively, they can better share important project information, build rapport and complete assignments successfully. Sometimes, ineffective or incompatible communication styles can affect the productivity of a team. To improve your team's communication, consider making it easier for team members to share feedback. Allow space before or after team meetings to voice concerns or ideas.

Try to be encouraging of ideas and support people as they share. If individual team members need more help to be better communicators, consider having a conversation with them apart from the rest of the group. You can ask if there's anything they'd like to discuss, and, if not, give them resources, like books or articles, they can use to improve their team skills and communication style.

Related: 7 C's of Effective Communication in the Workplace

2. Alignment

When teams align toward a common goal, they can produce more value from their individual contributions. Sometimes, when teams don't have a definite goal, it can affect their efficiency, motivation and productivity. To overcome this, ensure your teams understand the direction of the project or activity. Provide clear expectations team members can use to keep their actions focused and helping the team. By delegating tasks, communicating project aims and establishing reliable performance indicators, you can better align your teams and find success in your collaborations.

Meeting frequently, especially at the start of an activity, project, week or a month, can help teams better understand the actions and motivations of their team members. During these meetings, team leaders may communicate their expectations and the goals to achieve. Team leaders can also encourage team members to ask questions if the plans are not clear. Inform the team whenever you change the goals or when you achieve milestones.

Related: How To Increase Collaboration in the Workplace

3. Appreciation

Another reason a team may encounter collaboration problems is because some team members don't feel appreciated. As team members work, it's important to recognize their contributions to the team, company or project. Feedback on what each member has contributed towards the team's success can help members stay motivated and informed of their input. It may also foster pride when a member knows their work has value.

Try to appreciate team members openly, especially during team meetings. You can also give quick responses and feedback during an activity to support desirable actions and behaviors. Being specific about each person's contribution can help your appreciation seem more authentic.

4. Trust

Trust is essential for collaboration. For teams to function properly, its members need to trust both their leadership and their fellow team members. If you're concerned about a lack of trust affecting your team's collaboration, keep communication open and emphasize transparency. While some details are sensitive or private, sharing others can help team members feel included. Establish clear boundaries and hold each member of the team and the team's leadership to the same standard. Building trust can improve employee satisfaction, accountability and alignment. Team-building activities can be another great way to build trust among coworkers and teams.

Related: 14 Ways To Build Trust in the Workplace

5. Culture

Each team member provides a unique contribution to their work's culture. Team members may come from many backgrounds and contexts. By promoting individuality and preparing team members for success, you can improve team collaboration. Leaders can help teams work together by celebrating differences and promoting inclusion in their workplace culture. Ensure each team member understands they are a valuable part of the team by and try to delegate different tasks according to their abilities.

Related: How To Increase Workplace Diversity: 9 Steps

Tips on approaching collaboration issues

Here are some tips you can use to address collaboration challenges in the workplace:

Problem-solve as a team

One of the best ways you can ensure healthy collaboration is to address challenges early and openly. If you notice your team is struggling to collaborate effectively, raise awareness and ask team members for their suggestions. By involving your team in the problem-solving process, you can encourage their engagement and sense of community. When team members become invested in the success of their collaborations, they may be more willing to act as more active members of the team.

Identify challenge sources

If you're trying to address company-wide or large-scale collaboration challenges, try to find the individual contributing elements. By identifying the cause of the problem, you can take steps to address issues at their source. For example, you may discover a lack of alignment between departments. If this is the case, try to establish clear goals and create more open channels for communication. Working from the source can instigate wide-scale change and help you improve the company culture.

Ask for help

Some problems may require you to seek external help or input from your immediate supervisor. If you're experiencing challenges collaborating with another team or department, consider asking their leader for advice on how to interact with their group. If you don't notice significant improvement, you can escalate your concerns to a supervisor or manager. They might have valuable suggestions or be willing to help facilitate more effective collaboration.

Find the right time

In a project's life, or as you collaborate, some collaboration issues may be less urgent than the work to be done. For instance, if you are about to deliver an important presentation to a client, it may be more beneficial to prepare for the presentation than to address collaboration concerns. Find a time when everyone can focus and work together on a solution without interfering with important deadlines or tasks.

Set goals

Clear goals can help teams understand their roles, contributions and expectations. By communicating goals effectively, you can help direct your team's attention and focus their efforts. Explicit goals and healthy communication skills can help teams overcome collaboration challenges and miscommunications.

Be open to suggestions

As you solve collaboration issues, you may choose to involve other team members and note their opinions on the matter. Getting feedback from team members can help you better evaluate individual concerns, understand team dynamics and offer applicable solutions. Individual feedback can also lead to helpful problem-solving techniques and ideas. Anonymous surveys can be an effective tool for collecting feedback from team members.

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