First-time manager’s lessons: How to promote cooperation in a team
Published in Leadership and Soft Skills.
As my latest article with tips for first-time managers has received much positive feedback on Telegram, I’ve decided to play with this topic a little more. Let’s talk about facilitating coordination and cooperation within a team.
Cooperation is a must-have aspect of effective teams. Promoting cooperation is one of the most important manager’s responsibilities. You cannot simply order someone to cooperate with another person.
Tools for promoting cooperation are split between procedural and interpersonal.
Procedural means stand for developing team processes in a way that defends both parties of cooperation, allows shared achievements, and gives teammates flexibility in self-organization and organizing their workload around projects and tasks.
Directs will then actually decide to cooperate to reduce their responsibility and optimize workload all by themselves.
Interpersonal means consist of helping directs to understand the benefits of cooperation, running meetings, suggesting best practices for cooperation, and allowing sporadic change of Project and Task owners as long as they are under someone’s control.
Now let’s talk about the main issues with cooperation & tools you may employ to resolve them.
Make connections between coworkers. Teammates tend to create their networks of usual contacts. Often, they won’t even think of reaching someone outside the circle of 3 to 10 colleagues they’re used to working with. Such structure slows down the spread of ideas and best practices slow down the team altogether. I recommend you to create a set of touchpoints (mostly meetings) where everyone would discuss a certain sphere of knowledge (like SQL, Tableau, CRM, etc.) helping colleagues to develop a broader connection network with experts on various subjects. These meetings should be a safe space for sharing ideas and promoting a learning and teaching culture.
Develop leaders within. Collaboration is usually centered around a small number of activists and informal leaders. If there are no such people, the manager is responsible for answering the questions and helping with everyday issues. And if you’re too busy to do that there’ll likely be no cooperation. Find and nurture informal leaders within a team by letting them manage projects and subgroups on their own.
Working collaboratively is not a skill that everyone is born with; however, it is a skill that one can learn which is why organizations spend money investing in the employees’ teamwork skills.
Celebrate wins collectively. Teams who win together work together, and vice versa. Celebrating personal and professional triumphs together establishes a sense of common purpose and collective victory, and makes teams more inclined to work together towards shared success. These celebrations can take the form of announcing accomplishments in meetings and giving a round of applause or planning a party or outing to commemorate meeting a goal. Sharing joy creates a sense of camaraderie and encourages team members to look out for each other’s interests.
Clarify roles and responsibilities, and set up expectations. Understanding individual roles and responsibilities is essential for teamwork. At the start of the project or during team formation, communicate clear instructions on how the work is divided and what expectations are for each contributor.
It is also imperative that the leadership sets clear expectations for the teams so that as employees work together, everyone is clear on which goal or objective they should reach.
I believe that knowledge workers aren’t people naturally inclined to cooperate as we do most tasks alone combining them afterward. It’s different from working on one construction site or conveyor belt together. Teams need help getting along and getting tasks accomplished. Even the most in-sync teams sometimes need to get back to basics and receive a refresher on working together. Don’t let poor communication take over the workplace, and implement the above tips to ensure cooperation is the new norm!