12 Easy Ways to Improve Team Cooperation in the Workplace

Home » Resources » Team CooperationUpdated: September 15, 2021

You found our list of the best ways to improve team cooperation in the workplace.

Ways to improve team cooperation in the workplace are means of increasing teamwork and team harmony in the office. For example, creating a safe space to share ideas and hosting regular team building activities. The purpose of these techniques is to help teammates to work together more seamlessly and naturally.

These tactics are similar to trust building activities and team building best practices.

This guide includes:

  • ways to improve teamwork skills
  • team improvement ideas
  • ways to improve collaboration skills

Here is everything you need to know.

List of ways to improve team cooperation in the workplace

Here is a list of tips for getting teammates to cooperate in collaborative work environments.

1. Make connections between coworkers

The first connection phase is one of the most important steps in the team development process. Employees are unlikely to collaborate with unfamiliar colleagues. Leaders should make initial introductions between staff members and create spaces in which team members can interact and get to know each other. For instance, by announcing new hires, regularly updating and re-sharing organizational charts, and creating common spaces such as staff hangouts.

Having an awareness of other teammates’ existence and an established rapport emboldens employees to ask other team members for help. By acting as social connectors, leaders build a support system and a wealth of resources for the staff.

Here is a list of relationship building activities for work.

2. Hold regular team building activities

Hosting regular team building activities is one of the surest ways to improve teamwork skills. Many team building games are designed to boost competencies like communication, delegation, problem solving, and negotiation that are essential for collaboration. These exercises give participants a shared goal to strive towards and require players to work together to achieve the desired end. These challenges can be practice for on-the-job collaborations.

Non-competitive team activities also serve a purpose. By spending time together, teammates get to know each other better and build rapport. Team outings and rituals are common experiences that serve as foundations for relationships. Events as simple as team dinners can encourage bonding between coworkers and improve workplace productivity.

Team building does not have to take the form of murder mysteries, obstacle courses, paint and sip classes, or team parties. The practice can be as simple as holding optional staff events like lunch and learns, having coffee breaks where coworkers can meet and chat, starting meetings with icebreaker questions, or spotlighting different team members in newsletters. In fact, the best approaches to team building are a mix of more formal and longer events as well as quick and easy connection activities.

By hosting team building activities regularly, you communicate the importance of teamwork to the staff and give employees multiple opportunities to improve relationships with coworkers.

Check out this list of outdoor team building activities for more ideas, and here are virtual team building activities for remote teams.

3. Create a safe space to share ideas

To cooperate, teammates must first contribute, and to contribute, employees must feel safe to share thoughts without judgment or negative consequences. Fostering an atmosphere where team members can freely express themselves is an important element of improving team cooperation. This type of environment encourages a more diverse range of thought and leads to true collaboration as opposed to mere agreement.

Examples of ways to create a safe space to share ideas include starting a #no-failure-feedback channel on Slack where coworkers can share constructive criticism, monitoring discussion in meetings and carving out opportunities for quieter participants, and taking a no-tolerance stance on bullying or intimidation. Acknowledging and praising different perspectives is another tactic to foster psychological safety, as is expressing clear rules and expectations about giving feedback.

4. Champion a learning and teaching culture

A group of employees reporting to the same supervisor is not necessarily a team. In the most effective organizations, teams rely on each other for support and opinions and communicate among each other instead of only talking to the boss. One way to make the team more interdependent is to champion a learning and teaching culture.

In these environments, teammates go to each other with questions and show each other how to perform tasks or processes. Teammates brainstorm together and make suggestions about each other’s work and recommend resources to each other. Sometimes, team members mentor each other and watch each other’s work for improvement.

There are many ways to encourage an educational atmosphere in the team. For instance, by introducing a peer review process where colleagues look over work before it moves to a manager. Or, by assigning different team members to give informational presentations during meetings. Managers can also make a habit of pointing out team members strengths and suggesting that other team members consult these areas of expertise. These behaviors normalize peer-to-peer coaching and give workers more of a sense of responsibility for teammates’ development.

5. Model positive teamwork as a manager

Employees take behavioral cues from bosses. If managers preach teamwork yet clash with peers, then chances are reports may not collaborate smoothly either. Modeling positive teamwork sets a good example for your team to follow.

You should avoid negative behaviors, such as gossiping or venting about other managers, and practice positive habits, such as publicly thanking collaborators. Teamwork-minded good managers treat cooperating departments as an extension of the team instead of adopting an us vs them mentality.

Even without explicit instructions that employees should copy these behaviors, team members often mimic the manager and treat coworkers with more respect.

6. Celebrate wins collectively

Teams who win together work together, and vice versa. Celebrating personal and professional triumphs 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. The festivities can be for work wins such as landing a big account or doubling revenue, or personal victories such as finishing school or having a baby. Sharing joy together creates a sense of camaraderie and encourages team members to look out for each other’s interests.

7. Set the stage for peer-to-peer praise

Folks are more inclined to help people who think highly of them. Facilitating peer-to-peer praise is a way to spread goodwill and gratitude and to promote harmony and synergy among teams.

TeamBuilding uses a #you-are-awesome Slack channel where teammates can post positive shoutouts, however there are many other ways to encourage coworker recognition. For example, by placing a “kudos,” jar in the breakroom that coworkers can fill with anonymous compliments and reading the notes out during meetings, or by including a question like “what teammate are you grateful for?” question on a weekly self-assessment.

8. Hone the team’s communication skills

Improving communication is one of the main ways to improve collaboration skills. Good communication is the backbone of cooperation. Miscommunication or radio silence can lead to conflicts or tension in the team, whereas respectful and friendly, regular communication breeds trust and helps tasks get done more quickly.

The first step to improving group communication is to give the team the proper tools and opportunities, such as instant messaging apps and daily huddles. Be sure to lay out standards, for instance, let a teammate finish a complete thought before jumping into the conversation or use Slack as the first means of contact. You can also coach teammates on communication skills, for example, by comparing different emails or statements and discussing which messaging is more appropriate.

Here is a list of remote work platforms that can help improve communication in any type of office setup.

9. Clarify roles and responsibilities

Understanding of individual roles and responsibilities is essential for teamwork. Without a clear idea of who should do what, groups can not work effectively together. Establishing roles gives teams direction and creates a stronger sense of accountability. This approach also helps to ensure that no tasks get missed or repeated.

At the start of the project or during team formation, the leader should communicate clear instructions so that all team members can understand how the work is divided and what expectations are for each contributor. Throughout the process, teammates should check in, and the leader should communicate any changes in the plan.

10. Establish conflict resolution protocols

Conflicts are bound to occur on teams, and being ready to handle clashes can improve cooperation. Leaders should create a process to quickly identify issues and mediate between team members. Ideally, the protocol should be in place before arguments arise. Having a readymade conflict model can cut down delays, decrease tension, and get the team back on track towards working on shared goals.

Much of the work lies in setting expectations early and proactively avoiding conflicts. For instance, by setting ground rules like “deliver updates within twenty four hours,” or “ask a peer to review the work before a manager sees it.” Clear, agreed-upon guidelines can make accountability more apparent and shorten resolution time.

11. Gather regularly

Regular interaction is one of the keys to team cooperation. When each group member is off completing tasks, it can be easy to forget how individual work fits into larger team goals. Not to mention, a sense of isolation can settle in if teammates separate for too long.

Gathering regularly is an easy way to breed a sense of familiarity and community. Getting together is especially important for dispersed teams, coworkers who travel often, or teams on different shifts may see each other much less frequently than regular office-mates. These get-togethers can take the form of a weekly meeting, daily huddle, periodic team building outing, or just a random check-in. Even if there are no pressing matters to meet over, the group should come together on a normal basis to maintain the sense of being part of the whole. This regular contact will keep employees more conscious of other team members and inspire more considerate actions.

12. Collect feedback from staff

Collecting group feedback is one of the most straightforward and reliable team improvement ideas. When looking for suggestions on how to make the team better, members of the team are a great source. Teammates likely have ideas on what the issues are and suggestions on how collaboration can improve. Even if respondents may not have specific recommendations, surveys may uncover barriers to cooperation, for instance, shyness of a certain team member or lapses in communication.

Also, collecting feedback from the staff sends the message that management hears and values teammates’ opinions and gives employees more ownership over the team building process.

Here is a list of sample employee engagement survey questions.

Final Thoughts

Some teams click naturally and work together seamlessly, while other groups 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. The best practices on this list are good advice for any team and can keep coworkers interacting and collaborating in healthy ways.

Next, check out this list of ways to motivate remote employees and this list of ways to boost staff morale.

FAQ: Team cooperation in the workplace

Here are answers to common questions about team cooperation in the workplace.

What is team cooperation?

Team cooperation is when employees on the same department or project work together for the benefit of the collective. Cooperation means more than completing assignments, and is an attitude of devotion and consideration towards others.

What does good team cooperation look like?

Good team cooperation looks like team members automatically working together and splitting the workload instead of managers assigning duties. Team members often do not have to ask for help because teammates check-in or step in. These teammates communicate respectfully, effectively, and often. Praise and constructive feedback are two signals of healthy collaboration.

How do you develop team cooperation?

To develop team cooperation, gather and interact regularly, make connections between teammates, clarify team roles, improve group communication, and create a conflict resolution process.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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