An introduction to Team co-operation

Co-operation between teams is often overlooked in models of happiness at work but it can affect levels of frustration, stress and sense of progress. Things go more smoothly when teams work well together, but frustrations quickly build when they don’t.

2 Team cooperation

Why it’s important

How well people feel teams within an organization work together is strongly related to how happy employees at that organization feel. We’re usually organized into teams but it’s often the case that work content and volume is affected by the work of colleagues outside of our team.

Our statistical and case study analysis finds the way teams work together is a common happiness challenge, and it’s an important space to get right. When social relationships across teams aren’t good, frustrations emerge. In our experience, they are often expressed as a lack of communication, a mismatch in team goals, or an absence of feeling that “we’re all in this together”. Lack of trust and empathy increase anxiety and take attention away from organizational goals, often affecting everyone’s sense of progress.

Knowing and liking colleagues in other teams makes work easier. Employees who feel more socially connected at work take time to work out ways to improve their skills and ways of working.

What one of our experts says

“It’s a curious thing that a lot of models describing good places to work leave out inter-team relationships. In complex work contexts, positive relationships which traverse teams, power hierarchies, and difference of opinion are often the engine of progress. Team co-operation is often a low scoring area because the way we’re organizing ourselves - in different locations, time zones, and work patterns – is pushing co-operation to new levels of complexity. With all the benefits of flexibility that these trends bring, we can lose sight of the power of relationships to drive innovation and rewarding work experiences.” Dr Jody Aked, Friday

How we measure it

To measure team co-operation we ask:

Do you feel that teams within your organization generally work well together?

The word ‘generally’ in the question is important. Even in the best of organizations, there can be tensions or misunderstanding between teams on occasion, so the question focuses on patterns of experience.

: Friday’s statistical analysis (2018) : Zak, P. (2017) Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performing Companies. New York: AMACOM : Carmeli, A., Brueller, D., & Dutton, J. E. (2009) Learning behaviours in the workplace: The role of high‐quality interpersonal relationships and psychological safety. Systems Research and Behavioral Science: The Official Journal of the International Federation for Systems Research, 26 (1), 81-98