Randomly visit any company headquarters and once in the front door you’ll feel a low level drum beat extolling Employee Cooperation. Look around for a moment and you’ll see banners hanging from the ceiling with pithy sayings about cooperation and teamwork, upon closer look you may see plaques listing Team of the Month or Cooperation Stars of the Month. Offices and cubicles will be adorned with cartoons, quotes and bobble heads all affirming the power of cooperation among employees.
So companies seem to know the talk, but what about the walk? Do most companies actively practice Closer Employee Cooperation beyond the banners and reminders in their monthly newsletters, does your company?
My question is a bit loaded, both you and I know the answer. Most companies do not actively engage their employees to excel at cooperation, but maybe it’s not directly their fault. Maybe the reason companies don’t actively promote, engage and teach their employees in the art of cooperation is because they don’t know how. What do you think?
Susan Taylor recently wrote about a surprising link to cooperation.
Cooperation in the workplace is perhaps one of the most important influences on productivity.”
Trust and Accountability
For real lasting engagement to take hold in the corporate culture it must first start at the top with the leadership. Those at the top must show everyone within the company that they too can put aside politics and pet projects and instead focus their energy and resources toward a common goal, a common process.
When the leadership shows their willingness to work together it engenders a culture of trust and accountability and this gets the employee cooperation ball out of the rough and onto the court of momentum. This is the first step, Leading by Example.
A while ago I worked on a political campaign that had dedicated volunteers and donors but couldn’t quite ignite the fire needed to soar to victory. After thinking about it for a while I decided we needed to get our hands and faces dirty so to speak, so I puled the candidate and some volunteers into the van and headed off to a county fair. Once we arrived at the fair and shook some hands I led the candidate to the Pie Eating Contest and signed her up, when she looked at me reluctantly I whispered in her ear, “trust me.”
So what happened? Well, we didn’t win first place but managed a tie for second, and what I thought would happen did. The crowd cheered, the news media took pictures of my candidate smeared with blueberries and the voters roared their approval.
When Leadership isn’t afraid to get dirty everyone takes notice and joins in the game.
The second step may seems like the most obvious, Create Work Teams. I’m not talking about just clumping people together because they do the same job, I’m talking about creating teams that represent products, services and process from start to finish and setting up times for them to meet regularly.
The third step is, Get Out The Door. This step might include a trip to a carnival for some fun time but I suggest it center around activities out in nature. These activities could be as simple as walking on a nature trail or taking a ride across a lake, or maybe something more involved like a weekend camping trip. There is nothing like having a team leave everything behind to spend quality time out in nature with each other to deepen the communication and creative bond.
The forth step may create some resistance within leadership but I assure you it will go a long way toward building employee cooperation. The forth step is, Create Space for Mindfulness. Countless companies have come to the realization that a focused employee is both more productive and cooperative. Companies such as Google and Tesla actively support mindfulness classes for their employees as well as setting aside space within their buildings where people can take mindfulness breaks.
The fifth step is simple, Visit Our Contact Page and send a note asking Susan to contact you about how the Dialogue Process can help your organization get to a higher level of creativity and cooperation while super charging your innovation.