Collaboration Red Flags and How to Resolve Them

Building a collaborative work environment is essential for any business. To maintain a collaborative work environment, we need to pay attention to early signs of red flags. A study by Harvard Business School found that: 50% of employees who experienced incivility in the workplace reduced their effort and made a conscious choice to spend less time at work. 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work. A similar collaboration red flag profoundly impacts the employees’ physical and emotional state. It eventually results in low quality work and unsatisfied clients. It might also cause a high voluntary turnover despite offering competitive salaries and benefits. This, in its turn, leads to losing valuable resources and skills.

There is no way to prevent glitches from happening in a workplace. Still, there are many ways to help you proactively assess the situation and resolve them as early as possible. In this article, we will show you how to protect your collaborative environment from the spread of negative habits by identifying three collaboration red flags.

Internal and external communication is failing 

Internal communication refers to exchanging information, conversations, ideas, and files within the same organization. For instance, sending an email from the financial department to the marketing manager about upcoming estimations of the marketing budget. In contrast, external communication is directed to clients, 3rd party contractors, and any kinds of external stakeholders. For example, the sales manager sends a list of specifications about a product to a potential client. Internal and external communication could happen via multiple mediums like phones, messaging apps, emails, printed documents, and modern collaboration platforms. 

Lack of communication is a big collaboration red flag and affects the business badly. It causes delays in project delivery, cost increase, unsatisfied clients and/or contractors, a negative work atmosphere, working in silos, and many other damaging consequences. Consider the example of a marketing team with poor internal communication. They don’t share ideas and resources and rarely hold brainstorming sessions. When assigned a project, one employee might repeat the same work that a colleague previously did because of poor communication. On top of that, the manager doesn’t properly communicate with the client and doesn’t fully understand their needs and wants. The whole team might be working on a marketing approach that will be rejected upon delivery. It may even be too late to revise the whole thing.

Here are some signs that will let you know that you have communication issues in your company: 

  • Some of your employees have no idea what’s going on inside their team – they are out of the loop. 
  • You’re constantly receiving complaints from your customers. 
  • Gossip is becoming more and more widespread. 

Solution to this collaboration red flag

If your company is experiencing communications issues, here is what you can do:

  • Having an internal and external communication strategy is a crucial factor. It should have baseline standards and governing rules to control the flow of information. 
  • Valuing contributions and sending feedback helps increase communication because it builds a sort of loyalty, appreciation and encourages more engagement.
  • Leverage technology using advanced collaboration solutions to make it efficient, applicable, and under control. It allows creating structural communication channels between team members, teams in the same organization, and external stakeholders. Make sure to bring all the people involved in the collaboration process together under one collaborative workspace. Also, provide them with the right tools to share information and keep each other updated.
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High employee turnover

You may want to review the hiring statistics and be aware of the gradual rise in employee turnover. The most important is voluntary turnover, where employees leave based on their own decision without being fired or laid off. Even though it could be due to other reasons like the salary or work pressure, bad collaboration is a critical factor too. 

When the level of collaboration within the company drops, it creates a negative work environment that employees want to escape. When they feel isolated, and unappreciated no matter what they do, they will start looking for a better opportunity. Oftentimes people would prefer a psychologically comfortable environment over other benefits.

You can always hire replacements, but it’s a tiring process and costs valuable resources. The time spent searching for potential candidates, and the amount of training required to fill vacancies could affect work results and delivery of projects.

Solution to this collaboration red flag

High employee turnover is a widespread collaboration red flag. So, here is what you can do to boost collaboration efforts and, in the meantime, prevent high employee turnover:  

  • Constantly encourage creativity and coach team leaders to be open to employees. The value of an honest and straightforward conversation is very high. It leads to care and appreciation within the team and within the company at large.
  • Don’t just focus on getting your team members to finish their tasks. Try to interact with them on a human level. You can also use collaboration solutions to foster this kind of atmosphere by showing interest in what others have to say, considering innovative ideas, and guiding everyone to engage productively.
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings to get to know employees personally. If you have too many employees, then instruct team leaders to do that with members of their teams.
  • When employees want to quit their job, make sure to have an exit strategy, where employees get on a meeting to give you feedback and share the reasons behind their decision. It could be a valuable source of information about what is happening so you can fix the circumstances for the remaining staff. Accept the fact that the time you spend building employee’s loyalty is a profitable investment you make to your company’s success.

Inefficient problem solving  

There is a big difference between solving problems and solving them efficiently. Simply solving problems refers to managing any issues that arise to get it over and move forward with your team. Efficiently solving problems means engaging your team in finding comprehensive solutions to these issues, and it prevents having them in the future, thus saving resources for the company. 

A frustrated employee could become the main reason for a project failure, and you might be the reason behind your team’s frustration with your problem-solving techniques, especially if you were adopting a collaborative work environment where your employees are expecting a higher level of engagement and a better understanding of their role in the company.

Suppose a dispute arises between marketing and finance departments about advertising budgets, and you solved it by emailing them your decision. In that case, the actual problem still exists but was just covered temporarily. Meanwhile, you could have organized a meeting and clearly explained who is responsible for this decision and the key metrics to take it. This way, both teams will understand the motivation behind that decision and will learn to do that independently in the future.

Solution to this collaboration red flag 

Here are some things you can do to eliminate this collaboration red flag and pave way for efficient problem solving:

  • Make sure everyone’s task is clearly described. This way, all employees would know their boundaries and obligations.
  • When a new project starts, everyone should receive a detailed description of the project, its roadmap, timeline and what’s required from them. This way, you can identify and unblock the bottleneck easily and detect the failure if it happens.
  • You may want to avoid forcing solutions and be open to interactive discussions with your team about all sorts of problems. This way you will make sure they understand the entire image and help in overcoming obstacles.

When everyone in your team works in the open, and has clear and structured processes, you can efficiently prevent collaboration failures. It’s important to provide all your team members with the tools and resources in place to get the job done. And if you encounter a collaboration red flag, don’t ignore it, and act accordingly to save your company from future losses.

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