We spend many of our waking hours thinking about what makes effective collaboration. What makes good collaboration is as much art as science, but here are three rules that could be just what you’re looking for.

1. Have leaner, meaner meetings

We’ve all sat in those meetings that were about something other than work. People organize meetings for all sorts of reasons that have little to do with getting things done. Sometimes you’re sitting in a meeting because someone thought (consciously or subconsciously) it would be a nice way to break up the day. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of organizing meetings so that we can appear productive or so that we can get a pat on the back for the good work already done.

Try to cut out all of these kind of meetings wherever you find them.

Another mistake is when unnecessary attendees are invited to meetings. It’s very common to invite people to meetings who don’t really need to be there and who would be better off at their desk getting on with something. Ask yourself this question before inviting attendees, ‘if this attendee couldn’t make the meeting would we have to reschedule?’. If the answer is no, then it’s worth considering whether it might be better not to invite them.

The key idea is to pare down your use of meetings to those areas where they really confer most productivity gains. What are meetings really good for? They’re good for brainstorming strategy, and it can be good to have short meetings to make sure that everyone is still on the same page, that execution is going to plan.

2. Make sure accountability is crystal clear

Uncertainty is a major productivity killer, as detrimental in the office as it is to our national economies. If there is uncertainty about whose job is whose, in all likelihood it won’t get done — or it won’t get done well.

It’s very important to make sure that it’s crystal clear who owns the task and what the expectations are. It’s important, not only so that the task gets done but so that it gets done by the right person.

Accountability is also a very important aspect of motivation. If a person feels they have ownership of a task they will be more likely to do a good job and put all their effort into it.

Modern firms are busy, highly complex organizations and it’s easy for wires to be crossed and for accountability to be compromised. But if accountability is damaged, set it right straight away rather than allowing it become toxic.

3. Don’t micromanage

The flip-side of accountability is making sure that you don’t micromanage. When you micromanage what you’re actually doing is eroding accountability. You’re removing true ownership of a task from your team-member.

When you micromanage it not only destroys accountability but it also signals a real lack of trust. This completely undermines the confidence and motivation of your employees.

Once your employees confidence is weakened they’ll be a lot less likely to want to take ownership of a task, to suggest new ideas or put everything they have into really making their task a success. These things are disastrous for productivity.

Instead, delegate, and delegate truly. Place your colleagues in a position of trust so that they’ll be keen to reward that faith.