Working in a small team has many benefits as long as you know how to avoid the pitfalls of small group collaboration. Indeed, when working with a small group of people, you will:
- See things from a new perspective which leads to a greater performance
- Increase your personal satisfaction as a team member
- Develop your skills and creativity
But beware of the following pitfalls if you want to make the most of your small group collaboration sessions.
Poor communication can be a very big problem in a small group of people. According to Expert Market, 86% of corporate executives, educators, and employees cite ineffective communication and poor collaboration as reasons for failures in the workplace.
There are many tools that exist to maintain good communication. Small groups can use video calls for team chat, text chat, or even collaboration tools like Google Docs to maintain good communication. Even if you can meet physically with your team members, it’s way easier to store and update shared documents and files online. That way, everyone on the team can access them and catch up if they missed a meeting for instance.
But with all the different tools that are on the market, the communication process can quickly become more complicated and unorganized. This is why you need to identify the needs of your small group of people to pick the set of tools that suit your way of communicating and working together. I invite you to have a look at our list of best online communication tools to pick the best for you and your small team.
Make sure you and your team are aligned on the way to use each tool. For example, only use emails when you’re reaching out to people that are not part of your group and use Slack for group conversations. Another example would be to always keep a written summary of your meetings in a shared Google Doc or Dropbox document. There are countless ways to collaborate with a small group of people. You just need to make sure your process is clear and understood by everyone on the team. That way no information will get lost and you will maintain good communication.
Lack of motivation and trust
Human beings are social creatures. We depend on each other to get tasks done. We need to know that we can rely on the people we work with and that they will help us out when we need it. This is why it’s very important to motivate each other and build trust within your team to collaborate effectively.
A great way of motivating a small team is by rewarding good work. Rewards come in many forms: cash, physical items, recognition, praise, and promotions. The goal is to maintain your group engaged and give them extra motivation.
Rewarding a single team member for doing a good job may not always be practical or appropriate in a small group. But there is more that you can do to inspire and encourage all team members. You can organize an event for a special occasion and gather all your team members to do a retrospective on all the work that has been done. This is what we do at Lounjee, by organizing team-building trips across Europe on a regular basis. It keeps us motivated and brings us closer by doing some outdoor activities like surfing with our colleagues!
Trust is also one of the most important factors in order to create the most desirable relationships. It is hard to build trust when you are not open with others, which might be something that you are already aware of. Working with other people helps you trust them better because you learn more about them and they feel like they can trust you too.
Some of the most common ways to build trust are:
- Transparency: revealing facts and exposing information about your organization or yourself that you wouldn’t normally disclose or share
- Reliability: showing that you do what you say and that you’re there when you’re needed
- Honesty: being truthful, ethical, and without malice
The lack of individual accountability is a huge problem for small teams. It can lead to team members not taking responsibility for their actions, and a decrease in quality of work, which can eventually lead to the entire team failing. This is because when there are fewer people on a team, it becomes more difficult to make sure everyone is doing their part. If someone doesn’t do their part, then the overall quality of the project suffers.
According to Effectory, employees who experience role clarity are 53% more efficient and 27% more effective at work than employees who have role ambiguity. And on top of that, 75% of employees with high role clarity are significantly more passionate about their job and report higher levels of job satisfaction than others.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are holding your team members accountable for their work. This will help to avoid any confusion as well as resentment from other team members who may feel like they are being overlooked or ignored.
One way this can be solved is by making sure that each person has a role in the team and that they’re aware of what is expected of them. This way, there will be some accountability for every member of the team. You can also take some time to provide feedback on progress and reward good performance.
Inability to resolve disputes
Conflict is inevitable and it can turn out to be very damaging for small team members. It can lead to reduced productivity, low morale, and even the loss of talented team members.
The first thing to do to resolve disputes is to identify the root cause of the problem and work out a solution. The root cause of conflict may be that one or more team members have different goals for the project or different expectations about what should happen next in the project. It could also be that one person is not getting along with another person on the team, due to personality clashes or differences in values.
To resolve disputes, it is important for both parties to understand their own perspective and try to empathize with the other’s point of view. This will help them find a way forward without resorting to arguments.
And when a conflict gets too messy, a good way to deal with it is with mediation, which is often overlooked. It’s a process that allows your team members to come together in an informal setting, with the intervention of a third party. The goal is to discuss their conflict in a way that is less stressful than having an argument.
Small group collaboration comes with its challenges and I hope this article will help you tackle the most common ones. Don’t hesitate to share your experience with us and our readers in the comments section!