4 Reasons Behind Unproductive Collaboration

John C. Maxwell once said “collaboration is multiplication.” These three words summarize the importance of collaboration and the risks behind it. When executed correctly it will bring out the best of your team. At the same time, when executed without enough planning and organization, it will leave a deep impact on the whole structure. 

We have previously explained the external security risks of remote working. So, today we’ll go deeper with inner organizational threats that can result from the unproductive collaboration.

1. Uneven power dynamics

Power dynamics influence everyday interactions in business organizations. And its imbalances heavily affect collaborative relationships. The purpose behind collaboration processes is to embrace teamwork and work towards the same goal. Not giving enough attention to power dynamics can lead to working in silos or losing quality contributions from some team members over time.

Supervisors might be dominating the decisions and actions of their team members. Even teammates could be forcing their ideas over each other. There are a lot of factors that lead to this:

  • Age
  • Experience
  • Ties to higher administrations, etc.

Let’s take the marketing team in a retail company as an example. The team has multiple creative specialists led by one manager. A collaborative working environment means that everyone can contribute to their tasks by sharing resources and ideas as well as having open conversations. That is to say, all team members should be able to express themselves and their work should be evaluated equally.

With uneven power dynamics, the manager or some team members will force their ideas over others and eliminate their contributions. This climate will slowly kill the creativity in the department that revolves around creativity and brainstorming.

How to avoid such uneven power distribution

Here are some things you can do to deal with uneven power dynamics:

  • Cultivate the spirit of teamwork 
  • Empower individuals to share their ideas in every project
  • Avoid predilection among team members based on previous achievements 
  • Motivate all team members to contribute with their ideas.

Building a culture that values the process of team collaboration is very important to maintain an even power dynamic in the company. This raises the bar for all team members and pushes their capabilities to the maximum because they’ll feel their work is valued.

Going back to the marketing team. The manager should focus on the mutual work of all team members in every task assigned to the department. They need to make sure to not eliminate any ideas or degrade any individuals.

Plus, you should constantly encourage your employees to share their ideas and work. That way, each task becomes a challenge to the whole team and the results reflect their collaboration and unity.

To do all of the above, especially in remote teams, managers need a convenient collaborative platform. You can leverage Microsoft Teams for that. It aims to encourage effective and functional sharing. Teams provides users with the proper set of tools for enhanced communication, more contribution, seamless exchange of information, more organized sharing. Essentially, more collaboration. 

2. Duplication of effort 

Overlapping happens when individuals or teams work on similar tasks without enough communication. Lack of communication isolates each working unit in the company. As a result, your company can lose resources that could have been easily saved. 

Back to our example about the retail company. Imagine that the marketing team and the sales team are both working on a customer behavior report in the same week. Both departments have done their best to get accurate details by dedicating time, effort, and cost. The two departments could have worked collaboratively on the report using partial resources of each instead of doubling the effort and losing resources. Sometimes duplication might be the fault of the top management responsible for distributing tasks inefficiently to their teams. 

Is duplication of effort all together bad?

Duplication of effort might not seem dangerous when you think about it for the first time. But what if this was happening all the time in your company? What if teams were reinventing the wheel each time they are working on a project? Although projects will be completed, more resources will be wasted. This results in losing the competitive position in a challenging business world in addition to losing time and money for sure.

Duplication of effort leads to unproductive collaboration. However, if managed properly, collaborative work environments actually eliminate the chances of duplication by encouraging more communication and allowing more transparency within the same company. When individuals and teams are continuously interacting with each other on a business-oriented level it will raise their efficiency and deliverability of results.

Going back to tools that facilitate this process, Microsoft Teams is an excellent resource that helps users communicate, see their tasks, share status updates with each other hence avoiding duplication of effort. These are only a few of the collaborative tools that Teams provide to its users.

3. Miscommunication

One of the early symptoms of unproductive collaboration is miscommunication. Just like a snowball, miscommunication starts small and grows over time. And sometimes it can’t be discovered until it’s too late for a certain project. Imagine having to do the work all over again, just because you miscommunicated the outputs with your team. 

To quote Dale Carnegie, 90% of all management problems are caused by miscommunication. It creates confusion, destroys the company’s culture, minimizes reliability, reduces productivity, as well as stops potential growth.

Let’s jump back in one more time to our marketing team example. Their task is to deliver an advertising campaign after 3 weeks, and they are fine with that. They created the concept, prepared the designs, and finished printing the posters right on time. Everything seemed to be ok until they learned it had to be in Spanish, not in English. They didn’t have a problem doing it in Spanish if they were told to do so three weeks ago, but now it’s too late to do anything. They need extra few days to change the language and redo the printing. This leads to loss of more resources. If that’s not the enough, the competitor had already launched their campaign. Miscommunication doesn’t always have to be about the project’s outcome. It could be about deadlines, requirements, authority, privileges, or any other aspect of the business.

Sometimes managers are at fault for miscommunication, but this is not always the case. It could even happen within the same team. And with no feedback and continuous reporting, it will remain hidden until some point in the future. 

How to eliminate miscommunication?

Overcoming this obstacle is important to increase productive collaboration, and there are multiple solutions for that. For example:

  • Describing the tasks in detail 
  • Working under a clear plan
  • Identifying a set of precise inputs and outputs of every project 
  • Using one proper communication channel.

The latter could be a deal breaker. Sometimes the problem is not that a piece of information wasn’t shared but rather, it was lost. Was it sent via email? Is it in the group chat? Did John send it via Skype? Or was it on our Facebook group? Having a single collaboration platform with built-in communication features solves this issue.

Microsoft Teams ensures the smooth flow of communication across the entire organization with a clear registry and safe information storage. It introduces the concepts of collaboration channels where teams are grouped to interact and work on common projects. 

4. Lack of defined structure 

Having a skilled group of people in your organization is not enough to reach success. A functional organization has a defined structure of responsibilities and processes that coordinates the relationships and work of various individuals and teams. Low quality or non-optimized business processes or underestimating the importance of clear responsibilities will cause contradictions and conflicts that will eventually lead to total failure in terms of collaboration.

A defined structure sets the foundation for productive collaboration as it identifies the way individual departments and managers work together towards a common objective. The lack of structure can lead to ‘scrambled responsibilities’ where some employees will have to do multiple non-related jobs at one time. 

The lack of structure starts with slowing down decision making. Then it cuts the communication between teams in the same organization. It also causes uneven workloads and low performance resulting in a paralyzed organization that can’t face any risk or hold firmly against changing circumstances.

A functional structure sets defined roles for each employee, and groups them together by the tasks they perform within the organization. Building a perfect structure and defining business processes require having a collaborative system. It will help organize the task distribution between team members. Microsoft Teams has many solutions for that.  

The role of collaboration workspaces

Your team can perform better if you provide them with a suitable collaborative system that supports their day-to-day activities. Collaboration Templates by SalesTim are designed specifically for that. They help streamline your collaboration through prebuilt collaborative templates. SalesTim templatizes the collaborative processes, so that you can replicate them from one project or department to another. For example, project management, crisis management, recruitment process, onboarding, etc.

Collaboration Templates help create a structured workspace that contains all the right tools for efficient communication and collaboration:

  • Pre-defined location for focused discussions,
  • File and document templates, 
  • Everyday tools and apps already integrated into the workspace, etc.

When you create a template for a specific business process, you actually structure these processes and then follow it over and over again, achieving operational excellence.

Head over to our demo center to see how Collaboration Templates work.


Collaborative environments are important but keeping them productive over time is even more important. As seen in our article today, you have to keep tracking the performance of your employees to ensure their productivity is always up to the challenging level. Uneven power dynamics, miscommunication, duplication of efforts, and lack of structure are factors threatening the healthy environment of your business.

Read Related Blog Posts