In the workplace, cooperation represents the blending of many skills to produce collective achievement. Even in teams where some members are competitive in nature, there are simple things you can do inspire genuine cooperation.
Focus on Team Goals –Keeping the team’s goals center stage, and explaining how each person’s “to do’s” contribute to the team’s mission, encourages team members to be more cooperative as individuals in order to be more competitive as a team.
Focus Team Members on Doing Their Best (Not on “Besting” Other Teammates) – Make sure members know that they’ve been put on the team not to show what they can do personally, but rather to assist in making the TEAM successful. Identify each person’s strengths from the standpoint of how those strengths will blend with others to help the team achieve its desired outcomes.
Reward the Team by Distributing Rewards Cooperatively Rather than Competitively – Celebrate as a group when the team defeats its “opponent” (such as solving a key problem) and recognize individual contributions toward that victory.
Don’t Confine Cooperation – Apply the Team Concept Beyond the Team Itself – Encourage team members to find ways of cooperating with other departments and outside entities in order to uncover fresh insights and new ways of doing things.
Recommended Training Resource: Celebrate! Change Your Lens, Change Your Life is a new program from National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones. Among other lessons, it teaches that we should each strive not to be the best “in the world” but rather to be the best “for the world”.