Three Ways to Gain Employee Cooperation and Increase Teamwork

Published: 15th April 2011
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If you are a leader in any sense of the word, you must never forget the influence you have on others. As a boss, supervisor, or leader, your attitude affects your employees. Your employees' attitudes affect your customers, and your customers are the lifeblood of your business. If you want to gain employee cooperation and increase teamwork, here are three things you can do hold them in high esteem, make them feel valued, and increase their engagement. Here’s how.





Respect


I remember when I was a line worker in a factory, and I had a boss who did not show much respect. I recall setting a meeting with him because I was so frustrated about how hard we had worked only to feel defeated by the mechanical problems. When I expressed my frustration, what I really wanted was a pat on the back, someone to say, "I know you care a lot about your job and it must be frustrating to work so hard for nothing." Or I wanted him to ask me what ideas I might have for making some changes. What I got instead was, "Hey, I didn’t ask you to work here. If you don’t like it, find another place to work." Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, and no longer a factory worker, I do understand that leaders get tired of employee complaints, and I frequently talk about how drama in the workplace hampers productivity. However, as a leader, you must set the tone of how complaints are registered, and you must develop the wisdom to respond appropriately instead of reacting to an employee’s negativity. You would be surprised at how you can shift an employee’s attitude simply by using good listening skills.





Listen


"It's no big deal. Quit being such a cry baby," or, "No one else is complaining." The worst thing you can do when an employee comes to you with a problem is to criticize or discount. Second to discounting is pretending to listen. Even if you hear what is being said, when you are distracted by checking e-mail, or looking at a message on your Blackberry, you are unintentionally communicating that the person in front of you is not important enough to give full attention.





To show you are listening, stop what you are doing, and look the person in the eye. Then acknowledge what he or she just said. This does not mean you agree with what was said, just that you heard what was being communicated. A simple statement like, "Sarah, it sounds like you are frustrated," will let Sarah know you heard the essence of what she was trying to communicate. If you feel distracted, or otherwise unavailable, the solution is to set an appointment for a time later in the day when you can be free of distractions.





Engage Them


It’s true you can get employees to do their job, but if you want real engagement you have to find a way to make them part of the process. There is a difference between commitment and compliance: Compliant employees do what is required and no more. Committed and engaged employees become part of a team, looking for ways to benefit the company with their expertise, their ideas and their energy. Employees buy in to what they help to create. Once you have built the trust with them, and if your company is considered a good place to work, you can go to the next level and get their active participation. The way to make this happen is to keep them in the loop about what is happening in the company. Tell them the reasons for the decisions that are being made. When possible ask for their input, opinions, ideas and feedback, and publicly acknowledge employee ideas and contributions.


When I was finishing my master’s degree I asked employees the question, what could your boss do to become a better boss? Unequivocally two answers overshadowed every other answer: show respect and listen. A good way to know if you are successful as a manager is not only by employee performance, but by their engagement.





Marlene Chism is the author of Stop Workplace Drama. She helps managers and business leaders increase employee engagement, reduce negativity in the workplace and improve results. Visit Stop Workplace Drama to learn the eight principles help leaders gain clarity and reduce workplace drama.






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