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3 team collaboration mistakes you can’t afford to make

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Think of designing a team collaboration system like using a pottery wheel. Sure, you can toss a lump of clay onto the wheel, speed through the process, and end up with something resembling a vase. But look closely and you’ll find imperfections. You’ll notice cracks that let water leak out. The cracks and the leaking water will weaken the vase. One day you have what looks like a fully functional vase, and the next you have the pieces of a poorly-designed receptacle in your hands (and probably on your floor).

If you try to hastily assemble a system for team collaboration, you’ll likely make common mistakes. And when those mistakes start to show, it’ll be a lot more expensive to fix than a failed pottery experiment.

Take a look at these common team collaboration mistakes and learn how to avoid them so you can build a stronger, more collaborative workplace.

Mistake #1: Spreading collaboration across multiple tools

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When people are constantly hopping between tools, they’re not collaborating, they’re getting frustrated. Switching between tools to find documents, team knowledge, and project updates, is time-consuming and confusing. It’s also expensive.

The average employee spends only 3 minutes on one task before switching to another; that’s a lot of lost time and concentration. Context switching eats up to 40% of productive work time, so it doesn’t just tax people’s brains, it taxes the team and company, in time and labor. 

Furthermore, without a central resource for information sharing, no one can be sure what’s up-to-date and what isn’t. Fatima from marketing could be designing a campaign around product specs from last week’s meeting notes, completely unaware that José from product development made changes to those product specs only yesterday. Fatima’s campaign may be as outdated as the product specs she’s using. For effective team collaboration, everyone needs to be on the same page, literally and figuratively.

Solution: Create a living knowledge base

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When you create a single source of truth, you prevent team members from referencing outdated information or doing parallel work. Centralized knowledge keeps the entire team aligned, which is particularly important now — 97% of employees that went remote in 2020 want to work remotely at least part of the time going forward. Whether your team is fully remote, hybrid, or all in-office, team collaboration is easier with a single source of truth.

Cut back on context switching and tool hopping by making Confluence the intersection for all collaboration and knowledge sharing. Create spaces that encompass multiple teams and projects and use pages to keep notes organized. When everything is in one shared place, there’s no need to dig through file folders, search inboxes, or send DMs to find information.

Mistake #2: Defaulting to meetings

Meetings do not necessarily translate to collaboration. In fact, employees say 50% of meetings are a waste of time. Relying on meetings as your de facto space for team collaboration is ineffective because it forces everyone to brainstorm and problem-solve in real-time. Plus, outspoken team members tend to overshadow less vocal people who also have great ideas to share.

Defaulting to meetings causes issues for distributed teams as well. No matter how mindful you are, meetings are rarely time zone-inclusive for every attendee. An afternoon meeting for part of the team might force other employees choose between taking a meeting far outside their working hours or missing the discussion altogether.

Even if you find a time that works for everyone, the meeting itself can be disruptive and encroach on deep work time. Walesa Demetrius of CodeLime says, “for many people, like me, the idea of a meeting haunts me all day. The meeting must be prepared [for] and I think, oh I have two hours, I have to finish [this task] because I have a meeting!”

On top of being disruptive, meetings are often futile. Every month, employees spend around 31 hours in unproductive meetings. Think about how much 31 unproductive hours per employee per month costs you. Even a small team of five people could rack up 155 wasted hours in a month, which is nearly 4 work weeks!

Solution: Lean into asynchronous collaboration

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We’re not saying you should cancel all your meetings. However, meeting less leaves more time and mental space for team collaboration.

Start with your recurring meetings. If you’ve ever thought “this meeting could have been an email,” replace it with asynchronous collaboration in Confluence. All those ideas, discussions, decisions, and important notes can live in a shared space, and team members can contribute when they have time.

Before scheduling a meeting, connect relevant team members in Confluence pages and use in-line edits and comments to discuss the topic at hand. Give people time to sit with their thoughts and think through their contributions. You may even find your quieter teammates are more willing to collaborate. Demetrius says that reducing her team’s reliance on meetings led to richer conversations where people speak with more confidence.

When you do meet, share collaborative agendas one to two days beforehand. Doing so gives people time to prepare, so the actual meeting is more efficient. When you create agendas in Confluence, you can take advantage of real-time editing during the meeting to keep the meeting on track.

Mistake #3: Micromanaging your team

 Unfortunately, many managers micromanage because it feels like the only way to stay in the loop about ongoing projects. However, hovering over your employees and constantly requesting status updates is not collaboration.

Micromanagement negatively affects your team’s mental health — and is linked to increased stress and depression. Moreover, trying to control how people use their time often leads to everyone spending more time talking about work than actually doing it. Micromanagement boils down to a series of interruptions your team has to continuously recover from, eating up an average of two hours of focus per day.

Solution: Use collaboration tools to track projects

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Micromanaging isn’t always intentional, but the negative effects are the same. When you use collaboration tools to monitor projects and task assignments you can stay up-to-date without breathing down your team members’ necks.

Always go back to your single source of truth. Make it clear to employees that team collaboration happens in Confluence, so you can monitor progress by reviewing updates to the Confluence page instead of passing by their desk or sending them a DM, disrupting their work.

Confluence builds notifications, announcements, and active notes right into your home feed. Next time you have the urge to micromanage, open up Confluence and scroll through your feed. You can also review document version history, meeting notes, and comments for more context. When you encourage your employees to use Confluence as their central point for team collaboration, everyone (including you) can work autonomously with confidence.

Stay on top of team collaboration with Confluence

Remember — a poorly designed team collaboration system is like a haphazardly created vase — once the cracks start showing, you’ll end up spending a lot of time (and money) trying to patch it up. Take the time to create something that lasts.

When you create a process for documenting everything and keeping communication in Confluence, team collaboration comes naturally. Plus, with all of our built-in integrations and customization options, your team can use Confluence as the central connecting point for all work. Sign up for a free account and start building a better process for team collaboration in your organization.

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How Piavita manages its product development lifecycle with cross-functional collaboration in Confluence

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