8 common team collaboration mistakes (and how to fix them)

Dec 01, 2020

8 common team collaboration mistakes (and how to fix them) remote.io blog post banner

Individuals can change their fate through hard work but when teams are motivated for a single goal, the destinies of organizations, communities, and economies can change. This is simply because "two heads are better than one" and there are always many soldiers who fight to win a war.

We remember that Neil Armstrong went to the moon for the first time but we must also realize that there was a team of dedicated researchers who made it happen with years of collective effort.

Both the quantity and quality of work improve with great team collaboration. If you have a family event or an official project, you may notice that when more people are engaged, processes are faster and results are better.

However, certain mistakes in team collaboration can ruin the project and you might think that it was better to engage a single individual in getting work done.

Let's figure out some common team collaboration mistakes that can hinder your team from realizing their maximum potential. In addition, you'll find helpful strategies to fix them.

1. Unnecessary teaming up for work

You must have heard many times in the news that during investigations, authorities often form a five or six-member team. This is because they know that teams can achieve a goal.

Undoubtedly the importance of teamwork and benefits of collaboration are plenty. However, if you are making a team without a genuine need to do so, you're making a big mistake. Sometimes teams can do more harm than good if the overall project does not require the contribution of everyone.

For this, decision-makers should consider the various dimensions of a particular project, then decide if it requires a group of people to work or only a single individual can do the job.

Otherwise, you'll end up increasing the project cost without achieving the desired output. If you think that one to three members can complete a project, don't create complex teams. Even if the top management has no time to evaluate this, a certain person may be assigned the role to assess this need and then according to the facts and figures, decide what is best.

2. Not relying on technology

The right technology and tools can save a lot of time and team effort while increasing productivity. You can make use of several online platforms for team communication including chat groups.

Also, an online collaboration tool such as Asana, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Wrike that can help you get all your projects done. How? It ensures that all the team members are informed about updates and changes. Everyone will be on the same page.

Deadlines and roles will be clearly defined and problems get identified and resolved immediately. Even if people are working in different time zones remotely, they will all know about project progress and their tasks clearly. Such a platform can also keep a clear record of individual and team effort.

3. Not realizing individual strengths

Let's say you've got a team, but their assignments are not based on their strengths. A marketing expert who communicates well may not be excellent in writing content.

This situation tells us that when teams are formed, a proper analysis of the task and skills for the project is needed. Find out who fits the role according to their past performance, education, interview, and talent base. This will help you make things smoother and more efficient.

4. Unclear roles and responsibilities

With less or improper planning from the start, organizations may end up forming teams where all the members do not know what they are supposed to do. They work because they have to achieve something but do not know the directions.

For example, someone works day and night assuming that he is supposed to do that and the others think there aren't many things to do in the project. Often, this happens where there is a lack of initial planning and defining clear job responsibilities.

As an essential step for team collaboration, during the planning phase of the project, clearly define the team responsibilities and criteria. Set the accountability level and communicate this to all the team members.

5. Too much focus on meetings

One of the key mistakes in various projects is that teams are excessively engaged in meetings. If you have a look at their schedules, most of the time goes into discussion and meetings and less time for the actual work.

Only schedule meetings when you have a clear agenda or project emergency or at least reduce the meeting time. Usually, a quarter to half-hour meeting can meet the purpose and important ideas may be discussed.

Don't prolong this time to 2 to 3 hours just because you want to figure out the best of ideas. After a certain time, people just kill the time in meetings and there are no productive things to discuss anymore.

6. Less autonomy to express ideas

Always remember that collaboration means you are working collectively for the same goal. There are no vertical hierarchies in collaborative teams as far as the sharing of ideas and opinions are concerned. Even if the hierarchy exists, don't try to be bossy all the time. Remember communication is key.

Try to engage everyone so that they own the project and contribute to the best of their strengths and energies. Encourage everyone to share their opinion and view or at least create a culture where members are communicative.

7. Changes are not well communicated

Even the most efficient teams can make this mistake one way or another. Whenever there is a change in some tasks or policies, few people keep it with themselves and fail to communicate with the rest of the team.

For example, you're told to pause a certain work aspect but the other person who's working on one of the major dimensions of the task wasn't informed. He continued to work and ended up wasting his effort and time.

If there's any change in a project, make sure to keep everyone in the loop. You can easily do this using your preferred communication channel.

8. Not appreciating individual effort

One thing that can negatively affect team performance is when an individual knows that the whole team will get the credit no matter how much each one contributed. Keep in mind that it is very important to know how your employees feel about work.

Very often, there are a few dedicated people whose contributions are worth noticing but because the whole team is involved, their effort is not highlighted as much as it deserves to be.

If you have experienced this yourself, you may have felt a lack of motivation. On the other hand, lazy team members get to hide behind the effort of others. Because they communicate well during meetings, they can cover up their lack of effort and they enjoy the same benefits like everyone else.

Not fair? Yes, not at all. Individual efforts should be appreciated in the team. You may do it in several ways. As the leader, highlight the names of contributors in the meeting. If you use a collaboration tool, tag and mention them.

For example, you can say, "Congrats team! Our recent proposal has been approved. Special thanks to Mr. X for his valuable contribution and ideas."

You may also announce special rewards for individual contributions. However, you should be careful to maintain a sense of teamwork and not compromise it.


Team collaboration is a wonderful way to accomplish organizational goals. If you will keep the above-mentioned mistakes and solutions in mind, I'm sure you will maximize the output of your team to a huge extent. Also, don't ignore the potential of the right technology for boosting your team productivity.


Bryan Osorio

Bryan Osorio

Bryan Osorio is a Blogger, SEO enthusiast, Content Marketer, and Digital Marketer with 3 years of experience within the Tech and Digital Marketing Industry. He likes to read, write and talk about Science, Technology, AI, Video Games, World News and more. He studied Psychology at the National University of Colombia and enjoys writing about leadership, remote work, team motivation and others.

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