How Can I Enhance Employee Cooperation?

Creating a cooperative workplace environment is one of the best ways to increase productivity. When employees are happy, they are more eager to work, less likely to take time off and more likely to stay with the company for the long haul. Less turnover and more productive work days make your business more profitable, and everyone wins. When employees feel like part of a team where their peers and supervisors respect them and work toward the same goals, you have achieved management success. So how do you get there?

Management styles vary by individual. Each person has preference for managing their team, and every team has a different dynamic. There are several strategies you can implement to achieve employee cooperation. Testing out what works and getting feedback from the team moves you toward strategic management that can build company morale and result in better business practices.

Strategies for Team Building

Making your staff a cohesive unit can help a company achieve its goals, but the team starts with the individual. Each employee must feel utilized, valued and heard to maximize their effectiveness as a part of the unit. One management strategy for building morale on the individual level is cross-training. Cross-training means to train each employee in several tasks in the company so people can move seamlessly between jobs when you are short-staffed or working on a labor-intensive project. When everyone is cross-trained, you eliminate the possibility for employees to pass the buck by claiming, "it's not my job."

Getting each individual on the same page in terms of company goals and policies can also enhance cooperation. Making the employee handbook clear and in a motivational tone ensures that each person on the team knows what is expected of them and what they are working toward. The structure of the company can also affect morale and cohesiveness. A division of labor and hierarchy of management is needed for an orderly work environment, but creating a convivial, friendly relationship between upper management and lower-level staff helps eliminate the "us versus them" mentality that can divide rigid workplaces.

Human resources specialists recommend all sorts of team-building exercises to introduce employees to cooperative activities. Not every staff will get excited about playing team-building games, and some people simply prefer to work by themselves. Testing out a few of these strategies will help you pick those people out and feel out the dynamic of your staff to more effectively manage them in the future.

Creating work groups helps demonstrate how effective cooperation can be for completing tasks. Each person's input and expertise is needed to complete the assignment, and the team is evaluated as a unit. Recognizing individual accomplishments remains a vital motivational tool, though, so allow for individual reviews as well. Teamwork can have the unintended consequence of facilitating complacency if some members contribute more than others. If one person falls off on his duties, he is accountable to both his team and himself.

Team-building games can feel cheesy and forced, but they are instantly improved when managers participate. These games should not be embarrassing or overly-personal, but they should make employees feel as though the workplace is a fun, relaxed environment. One way to achieve employee cooperation and great work is offering incentive for teams. For instance, offering to foot the bill for lunch at a nearby restaurant for the team who accomplishes the most sales gives employees something to work toward together. It also draws upon another employee relations strategy, getting employees together for off-site activities so they view each other as peers and friends, not merely coworkers.

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