5 things to stop doing right now if you want to maximize team collaboration

Executive Summary:

It can be tempting to assimilate the term teamwork with collaboration. Though, they are quite different. Teamwork happens anytime a group comes together to achieve a common goal. Teamwork can happen without collaboration. 

However, collaboration seems more intimate because it allows for inclusion. Collaboration brings people together to work together on a specific challenge while making sure everyone can participate and is on the same page. 

Teamwork and collaboration are integral parts of a good company culture, since it creates a virtuous circle for employees. It helps them realize their strengths, gives them room to bond over solving problems at work, and increases their confidence. 

But, just like hitting the gym and doing the required reps the wrong way can prevent you from getting the desired results or give you bad posture, doing collaboration the wrong way can impede team efficiency. You will have to unlearn these practices and adopt new ones to hack team collaboration and watch your team collaborate without breaking a sweat. While there are lots of practices that could be done wrongly, breaking these five practices is guaranteed to yield positive results for your team.

  1. Stop thinking that meetings are the only way to find solutions together efficiently (think of working asynchronously).
  2. Stop involving everyone in your questions and threads.
  3. Stop sending 5-page text-only minutes after your meetings.
  4. Stop working without proper methodologies.
  5. Stop thinking that it is only about work, and add a few refreshing activities, like a coffee break or an icebreaker, to ease the tension that comes with work.

Many organizations have big ideas on collaboration. They emphasize it a lot in their communication, but it happens they don’t get the collaborative results they expect because they have not been making the most of what they have — their teams. 

Research by Teamstage found that for about 37% of employees, teamwork is crucial. Even more, team collaboration is weighty when new ideas are to be developed, and new things are created. 

The thing is, when working as a team, sometimes some of your collaborative practices might seem relevant and efficient, but they’re not. So in this article, we would like to show you 5 concrete practices that can actually hinder your team’s results, and how to change them while adapting to your needs and context.

As you go on, you will get a clearer picture and learn how to maximize your team's collaboration and efficiency, but let us first explain what team collaboration means.

What is team collaboration?

Now, when many hear the term “team collaboration,” the first thing that might come to mind is teamwork, and rightfully so because they have been used in place of each other many times. 

However, they are slightly different. So, before we define team collaboration, let us address what teamwork means. 


Teamwork is what happens when two or more people come together to work towards a common goal. Teamwork also might involve some parts being done separately by the members of a team, as long as the common goal is realized. It emphasizes team efficiency.

Picture this scenario: Google LLC has decided to bring on the market a new digital product. The product is software. Designing software typically involves software engineers who will handle the programming. It also involves user interface designers and user experience experts. In making this product come alive, each member of the team would be working on their parts separately, and then putting their expertise together and making input into the process of the product's design and conception. This is an example of teamwork. 

Now that you know what teamwork means, let us talk about collaboration and how it differs from teamwork. 


As collaboration systematically involves teamwork, the opposite might not always be true. Team collaboration goes beyond a group of people handling tasks based on their own expertise. As much as it could involve creating new things — products, for example, it allows for more openness in solving the problems resulting from working towards a common goal. 

In collaboration, information flows freely, and sharing is encouraged without bias. This creates more room for unhindered creativity since even the craziest ideas can be shared, and every team member can participate and share their feedback on ongoing discussions. Collaboration does not give room to silos; instead, it allows experts to see the blind spots in each other's perspectives. 

Let’s picture this in the scenario of launching the product that we mentioned while describing teamwork. To tackle this already-designed product, different teams come together. This could be via physical meetings or — in this age of remote work and hybrid work— they could use dedicated collaborative tools to centralize their knowledge and feedback. 

Notice that in this scenario, everyone is invited to share their feedback and knowledge, even if this is not their initial field of expertise. Coming together to allow for a literal mind rub is crucial in bringing out the best creative ideas in a team while helping them bond at the same time. This is what collaboration is. 

Why should you invest into efficient collaboration?

Now that you know what collaboration means, it will help to know why you should make it a top priority in your organization or workplace. This is not an exhaustive list of reasons, but it highlights a few important ones. 

Helicopter view

Every human being has blind spots. A team that collaborates will allow everyone to speak about the concerns they have for what they are working on. Collaboration lets a diversity of perspectives be noticed and different concerns addressed. If just an individual did focused work, it is most likely that that person will not see all the different perspectives. They can only know so much.

Encourage highly efficient collaboration in your teamwork, so that you can have an all-around view of the likely issues that may arise as you head toward your goals.

Faster problem solving 

What if you encountered a problem in your organization? 

Let us assume that it is a startup with a limited staff. Also, because you are just starting, you can only afford to rely on solutions from within. What do you do? 

An efficient team collaboration is what will help. 

In a team, everyone has their strengths (and weaknesses, of course), and this is the beauty of collaboration. Therefore, to salvage the situation, inviting everyone to come together with their strengths and put on their thinking caps is a good move towards solving that problem. Every team member's contribution is listened to and carefully considered. In the end, not all of the suggestions will be used, but they will reveal aspects that a single mind may not have considered. 


The thing with collaboration among teams in an organization is that, when done right, people are encouraged to talk without judgment

This allows people to recognize their strengths. And when team members recognize their strengths, they are eager to take more initiatives and explore what they can do for the organization. 

This, in turn, builds confidence among teammates. Nothing is better than a team of confident people who are open to letting others know about their wildest ideas. They are also aware of their importance to the team. This is a grat recipe for productivity, efficiency, and success

Though there are numerous benefits of an efficient collaboration, it might be possible that you are still waiting for them to appear, even when thinking that you are doing everything right at first sight. There are many reasons why this could happen. 

For example, let’s take a look at Sam, who registered at the gym to improve his health and fitness. Sam notices that other members of the gym see the instructor and allow him to give them advice and the best exercises for what they intend to achieve, but he decides not to. Instead, he goes at it by himself and does whatever comes to mind. In the coming weeks, he will notice that a lot is wrong, as those with whom he started have begun to see the visible changes that they wanted. He also notices that, due to the use of bad techniques, he has bad movement. So he decides to do the right thing and see the instructor.

It is the same for organizations. You might have seen how teamwork and collaboration allow for team efficiency and growth. You might have seen improvements in your team's collaboration, but you believe there is more. You are right. It is possible that, though you have good intentions, there are still some things that you can improve a lot today. Like Sam's bad techniques allowed for his bad movements, some things will not let you maximize your team's collaboration. 

And sometimes, these things are just what everyone else around you is doing as well. So, it might be even harder to identify the practices of yours that you could easily improve.

They are like bad habits that you need to let go of. Here, we will share 5 of them with you and what to do about them. Starting with these will undoubtedly change your team for the better.

5 practices to change to improve team collaboration

Alter these practices and see great improvement in your team's collaboration.

Stop thinking that sync meetings are the only way to find solutions together efficiently

It is strenuous and sometimes boring to leave for work in the morning and spend most or all of your day moving from one meeting to the next. Nobody enjoys it.

Meetings were the order of the day before remote work took over, and since things are evolving, whether we work remotely or not, it is good that we evolve with asynchronous collaboration.

Asynchronous collaboration means you no longer have to organize real-time meetings for everything. This type of collaboration allows your team to work on projects by making inputs when they best can without time constraints (in the case of different time zones).

To work asynchronously, you need tools like visual collaborative platforms that have user-friendly interfaces designed to make collaboration easy. This way, members can come in and make inputs when they can perform optimally.

Stop involving everyone in your questions and threads

While you might think that including everyone every time is a good idea because of transparency, you should also consider that some people might be more concerned by specific areas than others. What’s more, that would reduce the global amount of notifications everyone would be getting about topics that are not really relevant to them, and thus lead them to feel less overwhelmed.

So, for your day-to-day threads and discussions, think about only inviting those who can make a concrete contribution. Of course, thinking about efficient collaboration, doing this should not prevent you from asking for everybody’s feedback at specific stages of your common work. 

But this way, you will have less noise and more meaningful engagement. You will also avoid unnecessary information overload and be able to cut to the chase, making better-informed decisions in less time.

Stop sending 5-page text-only minutes after your meetings  

You know how meetings go: long talk, deliberation, decision-making, or even the adjournment of the meeting. During these long talks, someone writes out all the important information, and after the meeting, they will make it neater and share it with the rest of the team. 

No one wants to read meeting minutes that are several pages long, with not a single visual. Trying to fish out the important parts of the content is considered a chore as well. Not that we should always expect work to be rosy, not at all. But getting the important information and decisions made in a team collaboration meeting should be easier than it is. 

Thus, you can do that by making them visual and using a collaborative tool to instantly generate them. Visual management tools that allow for visual control are of great help. They allow you to take notes, and create diagrams, charts, maps, and graphs that help convey messages better in a clearer and more explanatory way without a hoard of words.

Stop working without proper methodologies 

Starting collaborative sessions without proper methodologies or structures creates room for a haphazard experience. If you intend to maximize your team's collaboration power, make sure you have set methods to achieve your goals

To achieve this, you can use a digital whiteboard. A digital whiteboard is a virtual workspace where teams can collaborate, sometimes with ready-to-use whiteboard templates to not start with a blank page. 

A few examples of such templates for collaborative whiteboards are:

  • Mind mapping templates 
  • Kanban templates 
  • User journey templates
  • Project timeline templates, etc. 

With these templates, your session is ready to go in minutes, and you no longer have to spend 2 hours preparing it. Any time during your collaboration, the structure and methodologies are here help to bring you back on track.

Stop thinking that it is only about work

Another practice you should let go of is forgetting about the importance of informal moments as a team. 

Just like exercising allows space for rest in between reps, some activities should be a breather for your team. You can improve your team’s motivation through weekly team rituals, a coffee break from time to time, or an icebreaker at the beginning of each session. These activities help release the tension that work brings and ease it into each session, creating a better environment for thinking.

Teamwork and collaboration have often been misconstrued as each other. However, they are different. Collaboration allows you to have a more efficient team because it is inclusive. But, you can make your team's collaboration even better by letting go of particular things that used to seem like the regular. So, use these 5 practices, and watch your team's results improve by 100 percent!

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