Teamwork requires a collective effort, every member of the team contributes with his hard work and time. Quick and efficient communication breaks barriers to collaboration and prompts productivity.
Effective collaboration is the hallmark of successful project completion. But as it is often said, “Too much of anything is bad”, collaboration overload thwarts individual working. Collaboration overload puts a strain on individual efforts and renders personal work completely futile.
What Is Collaboration Overload?
Collaboration overload is defined as the point where individuals spend so much time assisting their colleagues or engaging in collaborative activities that they are not left with enough time to complete their tasks.
Collaborative resources are grouped into three distinct categories:
- Informational – related to knowledge and skills.
- Social – corresponds to an individual’s position, access, and awareness.
- Personal – involves one’s time and efforts.
Informational and social are shared resources i.e., they do not take something from an individual. Personal resources, however, take one’s time and effort, leaving little time for himself.
Personal resources are the most damaging since they hinder the work of both parties involved. People seeking help often demand hands-on assistance which, not only becomes a barrier in their own learning but is also mentally and physically straining for the other party involved.
The more skilled employees are at a greater disadvantage because their work is frequently interrupted with demands for help or assistance. As a result, 25 to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3 to 5% of employees.
Team members are often unaware of what is collaboration overload and push their work on others unknowingly. Several countermeasures can be taken to offset this collaborative overload.
A Quick Insight Into The Scope And Impact Of Collaboration Activities
Harvard Business Review states that collaboration activities, in recent years, have spiked by 50% or so. In another survey conducted by the Queen’s University of Charlotte, it was reported that 3 in 4 employees deem teamwork and collaboration ‘very important.
Collaboration is also one of the four most important skills considered necessary for employees’ success. The collaborative efforts include frequent meetings, one-on-one sessions, emails, text messages, audio, and video calls, etc.
These facts and figures are proof of the world’s changing attitude towards collective work. Companies foster this change and encourage their workers to communicate regularly so that they can improve their work and minimize errors.
While it is true that communication is the key to success, over-communication, in contrast, can burden employees, making it difficult for them to perform their tasks efficiently.
Employees are often hogged by excessive meetings, emails, video call sessions with little to no time left for their work. In fact, it has been studied that employees spend approximately 80% of their time answering emails, replying to text messages, helping their colleagues, etc.
This indicates that only 20% of their time is dedicated to actual work. The lack of time and the constant mental burden has a direct impact on an employee’s productivity as well as his physical and mental wellbeing. Barring someone from performing his duties or hindering his work schedule can detract him.
How Do Collaboration Activities Spiral Out Of Control?
How can you distinguish between collaboration and collaboration overload? What is the breaking point of collaboration? Let us take a look at a few pointers that might answer these questions.
Collaboration overload can be characterized with the following:
- Miscommunication due to overcommunication
- Lack of organized collaboration
- Unstructured work management
- Lack of a proper code-of-conduct regulating collaborative activities
- Old-fashioned ways of knowledge sharing
- Unnecessary, lengthy meetings
This article discusses a few tips that will help you reduce collaboration overload so that your team can optimize their efficiency and produce better results while staying connected.
6 Quick Tips On How Successful Leaders Reduce Collaborative Overload
We have curated a list of the best tips to reduce collaborative overload in the following paragraphs. These tips will help you understand how successful leaders reduce collaborative overload. Without further ado, let’s dive straight in:
1. Create A Clear And Concise Workflow
To comprehend the underpinnings of how successful leaders reduce collaborative workload, you should understand that you have to start from the beginning.
One of the fundamentals of efficient project management is planning and creating a clear and concise workflow. The workflow will determine the working of the team from start till the end. Creating a workflow includes the following:
- Divide your project into smaller deliverables
- Delegate tasks to your resources
- Set deadlines for each task
- Track your team’s performance to stay informed about the progress of the project
- Identify issues and resolve them
- Minimize hiccups hindering your progress
All these steps will help you structure your project so that there are no problems in the progress and the project flows smoothly.
It will also ensure the timely completion of tasks so that there is no lagging in the process. Furthermore, it is an effective way of making sure that employees are not burdened by overwork.
The clarity and preciseness of the tasks will clarify their responsibilities and the things expected of them. Tracking will also be effective in ensuring quick and efficient delivery to the client.
A properly structured workflow will evenly distribute the tasks so that there is no collaboration overload and work is completed smoothly.
2. Make Sure Employees Are Clear On Their Roles And Responsibilities
One of the things that can be imperative in reducing collaboration overload is clarity on part of the employee. If an employee is clear on his roles and responsibilities, he can complete his tasks without any hiccups.
To do so, before you delegate a task to a team member, identify whether they are the right choice for this task. Do they possess the skills required for the completion of this task? Will they be able to carry out their duties responsibly, etc.
Your thoughtfulness will be beneficial for both the company and the employee. If you assign the right task to the right team member, they will be able to complete the task without requiring any assistance or help from fellow teammates.
In such a way, clarity will minimize overload, making sure that each individual performs his/her tasks diligently.
3. Work Intermittently
One of the biggest barriers to work productivity is working continuously. People often mistakenly think that working without a break will help them finish their tasks quickly. What they fail to see, however, is that over time they lose the grasp on their creativity, and by the end of the day, their work is just a chaotic mess.
They start out fully motivated to finish their job with utmost concentration but not even halfway through, lose the reins of their thinking. This is a result of burnout.
To counter this problem, one should work intermittently, with short breaks in between. To do so, you can try the Pomodoro Technique of time management.
An example of the Pomodoro technique is Robin Sharma’s 60/10 method. This method implies that you work for 60 minutes straight and then take a break for 10 minutes.
Another similar method is the 52/17 rule i.e., work for 57 minutes and then rest for the next 17 minutes. You can also set the timer according to your preference.
The same rules apply to collaboration activities. When collaborating with your colleagues, allot a specific time period to collaboration activities. Make sure that the activities are concentrated in that specific timeframe and the rest of the time is spent on your own work.
Adopt this method in every stream of your work. Answer emails, schedule meetings, review, and exchange feedback respond to messages, etc. in the time allotted to these activities.
Intermittent work will also make sure that your mind remains fresh, you have apt time for your tasks, and you are focused on your work.
4. Redefine The Way You Conduct Your Meetings
Team meetings take a better part of your day. Organizations often schedule daily meetings to give a heads up on the completion requirements. Meetings are effective in helping you improve your communication with your team members and developing better strategies for the future.
While it stands true that meetings are indeed very productive, it is also noticeable that they take up a lot of your time. To make the most out of meetings:
- Schedule meetings beforehand
- Set a proper meeting agenda
- Take notes during the meeting
- Jot down the decisions taken and the follow-up actions
Efficient meeting management guarantees the effective use of time and effort. You can also take help from a meeting management software (such as nTask) to schedule your meeting.
Management software will keep your team unified and will make sure that all the participants are on the same page. It will also be beneficial for automating recurring meetings and syncing your calendar with the schedule.
A clear and concise meeting agenda will help keep the meeting focused on one particular issue. It will also make sure that you or your teammates do not go off-track and concentrate your efforts on the issue at hand.
5. Real-Time Feedback
Real-time feedback is another useful trick that can take the stress off your shoulders. On one part, it can help project managers effectively manage the teams, develop better strategies for the future and improve the quality of the work. On the other hand, it can help employees identify and rectify their mistakes for betterment in the future.
It is a win-win situation. Not only is it beneficial for the employees but also the leaders.
Real-time feedback can also be a way of analyzing the inefficiencies of the process. Once team leaders identify the loopholes, they can fix these issues and enhance the overall performance of the team.
Consistent feedback can also help organizations make better decisions for the future. They can identify the patterns in the process and develop strategies to minimize collaboration overload, such as reducing the number of meetings, use software for automated email replies, etc.
6. Make Use Of Technology
We are the IT generation, with millions of IT solutions, software, and technologies making our life simpler and better. We have incorporated technology in our homes, so why not bring the same transformation to your work.
Collaboration tools are your saviors in the world of collaboration. They make sure that teams are working efficiently and there are no issues in the overall progress of a project.
One of the collaboration tools that has been making headlines is none other than nTask. nTask is our favorite collaboration tool, and we are not being biased. We can prove our stance and we are sure you will also come to love the software after we list its outstanding features.
nTask is a collaboration tool, that:
- Helps plan and create a workflow
- Offers multiple management modules for seamless collaboration
- Time tracks project to help you keep an eye on employees’ performance
- Allows you to leave comments, exchange feedback, reviews, etc.
- Offers easy file sharing
- Schedule meetings with multiple features
- Helps identify and resolve issues
- Provides visual projection of your work
- Multiple integrations to keep everything unified
On top of all these features, what makes nTask the king of the collaboration tools is its affordable, inexpensive pricing. Its Basic plan is available for free for freelancers and individuals. the premium and business plans, with advanced features, start at just $2.99and $7.99, respectively.
Last but not least, make sure that you use one collaboration tool to manage your projects. If your work is scattered across various apps, you will have a hard time keeping up with everything, and it will only add to your turmoil.
A good collaboration tool will offer you everything you need from start to end so that you do not have to juggle between apps and stay focused throughout the process.
Wrapping It Up!
These were some of our pro tips to help you reduce collaboration overload, maximize your productivity, and improve your efficiency. This is how successful leaders reduce collaborative overload. Start using these tips to make the most out of collaboration. Make sure that you do not delay your work by engaging in meaningless activities.
Is there any tip that you are using to keep your collaboration activities under check? Let us know your secret recipe for efficient collaboration in the comments below.