If you’ve ever worked in an environment where your coworkers or your staff embraced teamwork and cooperation chances are that you were more productive, enjoyed your work more, worked harder than ever and felt like you were part of something that was bigger than yourself.

The benefits of effective teamwork

When a workgroup is made up of individuals who have strong working relationships with the people they need in order to deliver results cooperation and teamwork become part of the organization’s culture.

In these environments communication increases, people are quicker to identify and solve problems and there tends to be more creativity and innovation. Moreover, there is much less unwanted employee turnover, there’s a greater commitment to fellow workers and there is a greater productivity so that we can deliver better results.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a manufacturing organization a service organization a not-for-profit operation or even a government enterprise, cooperation and teamwork and high-performance teams help organizations create competitive advantage with people to no one’s surprise.

Improving teamwork, understanding the issues

If, for example, interests are diametrically opposed so cooperation is absolutely out of the question because of incentives and practices that the company itself puts in place, and people are only measured on their individual performance and when they aren’t hitting the numbers workers and managers alike were chewed on and punished, we know there is a teamwork problem.

Numbers themselves can conflict with managers judged by one set of metrics and workers judged on another. Furthermore if managers are praised and rewarded for forcing the workforce to be compliant rather than productive, we know that this is a recipe for disaster.

And to make matters worse neither management nor labor had ever received any training whatsoever on teamwork or communication, so would’ve been a miracle if there had been teamwork and cooperation going on.

The process of building better teams

Start with training, people need to know what can be done and, first of all, they need to diagnose, understand and cure teamwork problems. Aim for cooperation and relationship building before actually starting the improvement process. In the absence of an agreement on a common effort to improve things nothing good will happen.

Maybe form a small group of labor and management members  to act as a design team, charge and empower them with finding better ways to get the work done and to increase profitability. Slowly but surely as the people in the design team will meet they will start to communicate honestly and effectively with each other.

People will learn to trust each other and they will identify the real problems that are damaging their ability to compete and take care of their customers. And while doing so, lack of teamwork immediately will move front and center while refashioning  working communication processes and redefining roles of both management and labor within the organization.

Introducing or enhancing cooperation and teamwork

There are a set of practices that emerge and these don’t cost a lot of money even though they require patient and persistent leadership. These are the critical gateways to cooperation and teamwork:

  1. if you’re serious about increasing workplace cooperation and teamwork to achieve better performance it’s imperative that you lead by example. You must demonstrate the behaviors that will help you become known as a team player;
  2. to be a team player you need to have strong working relationships, solid emotional intelligence and the ability to pull people together and a real talent for effective communication. And, you need the ability to stay humble and keep your ego in check;
  3. the quickest way to get a group of people to pull together is to develop consensus around your company’s overarching vision and mission, but also on the  key goals that are necessary for success;
  4. if you really want people to work together it’s imperative that individuals understand how their roles and goals and responsibilities fit together and impact one another;
  5. for workgroup to make progress in moving from cooperation to teamwork and be then ultimately a fully functional team critical behaviors and team-based norms need to be developed.
  6. behavior such as loafing, hoarding resources, not sharing information, or engaging in workplace gossip can damage and even destroy cooperation and teamwork. they need to be identified discussed and discouraged at the team level.

 

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