Maybe you’ve heard that duct tape fixes everything. From a ripped duffle bag to a car bumper that just won’t stay put, a few strips of this sticky stuff makes everything good as new.
While it might come in handy for a random repair, too many teams use a duct tape approach for collaboration. They haphazardly stick people and departments together in the hopes that the sheer act of being “on the same team” will lead to seamless and effortless synergy.
Or worse? They try to improve collaboration with “forced fun” — as if mandatory happy hours and trivia games will be the difference-maker when it comes to working well together.
Here’s the hard truth: Sticking teams together and hoping for the best isn’t working. Not even close. Sure, teams might eventually get their projects across the finish line, but the process is often fraught with roadblocks, siloes, miscommunication, and frustration.
Need proof? These collaboration statistics show that disconnection is a major problem in today’s workplaces — and it’s going to take more than a few strips of duct tape to fix it.
Statistics on alignment
It’s easy to blame clunky collaboration on tools. Or communication styles. Or time zones. Or any number of different factors.
But before pointing the finger at those, it’s best to return to the basics: Is your team in agreement on what goals they’re working toward? What about what they want out of their jobs? Or what role they want work to play in their lives?
After all, disconnection on teams is inevitable if everybody feels like they’re forging their own path.
- Only 28% of executives and middle managers responsible for executing strategy could list three of their company’s strategic priorities.
- There’s a hierarchy gap in who can find meaning and purpose in their work and who can’t. 85% of executives and upper management agree that they can live their purpose in their day-to-day work. 85% of frontline managers and frontline employees are unsure or disagree that they can live their purpose in their day-to-day work.
- 24% of direct reports listed “having a clear vision and strategy for the team” as their manager’s biggest area for improvement.
- 93% of employees say they know their company goals, but only 65% of respondents strongly agree or agree that they feel confident hitting them.
- 65% of employees can cite at least one problem with their team’s current digital collaboration technologies and want them to be more user-friendly.
- 26% of leaders believe that poor cross-team collaboration is the biggest challenge in project management, making it the top-cited roadblock — even ahead of outdated processes and remote environment struggles.
- In 2020, 56% of employees worldwide felt disconnected from the organization and their colleagues due to remote working.
- Businesses lose as much as $541 billion worth of resources when people spend time in pointless meetings.
What this means for you
So, how do you get your team — or your entire organization — on the same page, especially when people naturally have different approaches to their work or perceptions of how it fits into their entire lives?
You need to emphasize the common ground, and that starts with clear, shared goals. Every employee should have insight into not only the company’s broader objectives, but also how their team and individual goals fuel those.
Keep in mind that alignment doesn’t just mean agreeing on the goal — everybody also needs to understand what success looks like and how they will contribute. Attach clear metrics to any targets you set so that everybody doesn’t only know what the finish line is, but also how to tell when they’ve crossed it. A framework like SMART goals or objectives and key results (OKRs) can help you set goals that empower and unite your team.
Statistics on communication
We spend the majority of our workday communicating with other people — whether it’s in-person or online — so, there’s no overstating the crucial role that communication (both synchronous and asynchronous) plays in effective collaboration.
Crossed wires, misinterpretations, and siloed information all throw major wrenches in any team’s ability to get work done together.
Beyond that, those communication hiccups can also have a major impact on team members’ ability to relate to and connect with one another, especially when miscommunication runs rampant.
9. In one study, no matter the country or industry, “I can communicate with my colleagues easily” was the top factor that contributed to “good” collaboration. 10.
10. 26% of people feel that the way businesses communicate — both internally and with customers — has deteriorated during the past year.
11. 63% of employees say they’ve missed a piece of information because it went into a siloed communication source, like a colleague’s inbox.
12. 95% of people feel that the businesses they deal with could improve when it comes to communication.
13. 20% of employees have gotten into work disagreements because of misunderstandings due to virtual communication.
What this means for you
Communication is the bedrock of a successful team. And, while it might seem like something that should be second nature for everyone, the statistics prove that’s hardly ever the case.
Your team and organization need to be intentional about communicating. Here are a few tactics to try:
- Use a framework like DACI for projects. It’s an acronym for the roles you can assign to different project members, including the driver, approver, contributors, and who’s informed. That way, everybody knows who’s doing what and who has the final say.
- Build a team charter that outlines the essential elements of your team's communication styles so everybody can get important information about how their teammates like to work and how they prefer to be communicated with at a glance.
- Centralize your team’s communication in one platform (MURAL is great for this) so that important messages don’t get lost or missed.
To put it simply, effective communication requires effort and strategy. And, though it sounds strange to communicate about communication, it’s helpful to make sure everybody has the same knowledge about how it works on your team.
Statistics on bonds and relationships
We spend a lot of time with the people we work with — whether that’s happening remotely, in-person, or a little bit of both.
But, frequency doesn’t necessarily lead to fondness. Just because we’re exposed to those people day in and day out doesn’t necessarily mean we automatically share strong bonds and rapport.
Cultivating and maintaining positive relationships with our teammates requires some elbow grease, but it’s well worth the effort. The people we work with have a huge impact on our overall happiness, satisfaction, and engagement in our jobs. Nobody wants to feel like they’re going it alone.
14. 24% of employees say loneliness is their biggest struggle with working remotely, ranking only behind an inability to unplug.
- 65% of workers say they feel less connected to their coworkers in the wake of the pandemic.
- Being part of a team or community is one of the top global employee workplace values.
- Lonely employees have a higher risk of turnover, lower productivity, more missed days at work, and lower quality of work.
- 26% of workers ranked “regular small team-connectivity events” as one of the top-five company policies they’re most interested in.
- Collaborative work has risen 50% or more over the past decade to consume 85% or more of most people’s work weeks.
- Nine in 10 knowledge workers believe that digital collaboration across remote, in-person, and hybrid employees is here to stay and will be an essential aspect of their day-to-day responsibilities.
What this means for you
Team members need opportunities to connect with each other, regardless of if they’re sharing office space or working across the globe.
Think this is a nudge to schedule your next virtual happy hour or mandatory team-wide game of “two truths and a lie”? Think again.
That forced fun can feel inauthentic and even annoying for employees. So, instead of guessing about ways you can help them connect with each other, simply ask them for their ideas and feedback.
You might hear that the working parents want their own Slack channel to share tips and resources with each other. Or, perhaps somebody wants to spearhead a weekly lunch and learn where employees take turns sharing their hobbies and interests.
Those are all opportunities for team members to connect, and they don’t involve pointless games or eyeroll-worthy icebreaker questions. Remember, you want people to bond — but not necessarily over their shared hatred for whatever obligatory activity you’ve scheduled.
Find the tape glue that binds your team together
Seamless collaboration requires more than putting people on the same team and then watching as the magic happens. It takes effort to create an environment where everybody is connected, contributing, and feels empowered to do their best work.
As the statistics show, far too many teams are falling short. But, that doesn’t mean they’re beyond repair.
Use the above strategies, and you’ll stop winging collaboration and find ways to truly bring your team together — no duct tape required.
Collaboration takes intention. Learn how to make it happen with collaborative intelligence. ✨
...Click button to generate icebreaker
About the author
About the authors