Getting The Workforce To Work Together

Basic Business Cents

Nothing is as destructive to an organization as employees working at self-interests. We are taught that everyone is doing their best but that best might not be for the good of the system. They want to do the best for the organization but dissention and competition within the workforce can cause them to focus efforts on themselves. A collaborative workforce is much more productive than a collection of individuals that may be working at cross-purposes. This is where leadership differentiates itself from management.

Leaders first establish a vision of the desired future of the organization. This vision needs to be memorable, inspirational, and compelling. Then the people need to be involved in the definition of the strategic steps needed to achieve the vision. If they are involved, they will have ownership; it will bind the workforce together in the pursuit of that vision.

In order to build teamwork and esprit-de-corps, leaders need to:

  • Model the behavior that they desire because the workers are always watching and they will emulate behavior.
  • Understand the needs and interests of the workforce and help them satisfy those needs.
  • Think long-term and act for the betterment of the entire system.
  • Communicate progress on the achievement of the strategic actions on a regular basis to keep interest, enthusiasm, and positive thinking on the effort.
  • Lead, not dictate. Neither should they abdicate responsibility.

Everyone needs to work on establishing cooperative relationships but it starts with the leader. Competition within the workforce can be very destructive; it promotes win-lose situations. What are desired are win-win activities and results. All need to remind themselves of fixing the problem and not the blame. They need to develop a mutual trust and respect for each other. They need to exchange ideas and help each other. One-on-one meetings often can solve misunderstandings. Leaders can initiate the improvement in relationships within the workforce by replacing individual rewards with rewards for everyone. They can empower and enable others to act and invent options for mutual gain.

Lastly, leaders need to nurture self-esteem of the workers by promoting the understanding that everyone is important. Positive reinforcement should be used often and sincerely.

The workforce should have an input in planning and creating new ideas. People should be given important work and then discretion in getting it done. Micromanaging or constantly looking over workers shoulders inhibits creativity and slows down the work. Visibility should be given on progress and results. Leaders and workers alike need to remember Stephen Covey’s advice that if we want to be trusted, we need to be trustworthy. We must also trust others, and remember they are always watching our behavior.

By involving the workforce in the planning and getting their buy-in to achieve the organization’s goals, developing cooperative behavior throughout the organization, and elevating the self-esteem of the workforce, the old adage the whole is greater than the sum of the parts can be proved in your organization.