Develop a cooperative spirit in your company

I completed an IT due diligence project (a technology assessment) one time, and I discovered something very special – a company with a tremendous “cooperative spirit”.

The culture in this company was focused on the client and everyone I talked to had a strong sense of client service and purpose in helping one another do the  best job possible.

All too often, hard charging managers and senior technical people are competitive and allow this to become a weakness versus a strength. It’s good to be competitive, but not when it prevents a sincere sense of being helpful to others in the company.

Winning is about the customer winning and not about your organization or team member winning. If the customer isn’t successful, believe me when I say that we won’t be successful as an IT organization.

Your client may be an outside client or an internal organization. Regardless of who it is, there are going to be challenges and pressures placed on your ability to support that client effectively. When these pressures arise, meet them head on with a positive and “cooperative” spirit.

Look for win-win opportunities where everyone comes out of a difficult situation in a positive way. Certainly, the outcome may not be the optimal for you personally or your team, but when both parties win after confrontational issues arise, they start helping one another down the road.

If you have ever worked in a company with a cooperative spirit, you know just how great it is. People helping one another during the good times and the tough times builds camaraderie like you can’t believe.

Approach your most difficult client in a sincere desire to help and drop the idea that you always have to win. This isn’t easy to do – believe me, it is very difficult for me as I like winning and winning is a lot more fun than losing.

Work harder to help others and be a “giver” rather than a “taker”. You will find that your successes become more consistent, and it is very difficult for clients or other managers in your company to create conflict with you when you are genuinely doing things that helps them.

It all starts with you as the IT manager. Don’t expect your client to take the first step. If there is a bad relationship, it’s up to you to fix it. You won’t fix it by fighting and trying to get the upper hand so that you end up winning. You may win the battle but the real issue is to have a positive long term business relationship where everyone wins. We are the ones who must reach out to the other party.

The company’s employees I referred to know why they exist. Their operation exists to help their clients do a better job through the technology and services being provided by the company. It is a culture that starts with senior management and is reinforced by every manager in the company.

This doesn’t mean there are no problems to deal with; they have their fair share to be sure. But the impressive thing is that they are focused on doing what’s right by the client and taking the extra step to ensure the work gets done in quality manner. That means working together.

In every company there are organizations that have natural conflicts with one another as they do their job. In many cases, operational units need more than their IT organization can provide. Frustration builds and barriers are built between the organizations. As managers, we have to recognize these tendencies and prevent our organizations from working against one another.

What can we do to create a cooperative culture ?

  • Be a “giver”.
  • Develop employee performance plans and reward your people for behavior that “gives” rather than “takes”.
  • Reach out to department managers you are having conflict with. Develop a mutual respect for each others role and work toward the common good of the client. Most of us are reasonable when we encounter genuine approaches from people trying to work together.
  • Lead by example. Your people will follow your lead. Be aware of the impact you have by your action, comments, and behavior.
  • Seek senior management’s help in supporting activities that reinforce a cooperative spirit. They can mandate that everyone work together, but that won’t make it happen. However, their proactive support and positive reinforcement can help make it a reality.
  • Realize that changing culture takes time. Be persistent and give the change time to happen.
  • Seek win-wins and realize that it’s more important for your client to win the early issues as long as you both can win in the long run.

Help create a cooperative spirit in your organization to start with and extend it out to other departments in your company. Lead by example and coach your employees on the benefits of helping one another.

One of the expressions I have used a lot is, “We will all be successful together; none of us will be successful individually.”

Teamwork is built on cooperative spirit.

Help others every day and you will find that they will begin helping you become more successful than you might believe possible. I can attest that in my personal life and business, the more I help others the more I seem to succeed.

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