Significant problems can occur when employees with differing responsibilities need to cooperate—and don't. Whether it's two individuals or two groups of workers, if important tasks are to get done in a timely and efficient manner, the employees must share information and be tolerant of each other's interruptions.
It helps if they can develop an appreciation for each other's problems and points of view. They must learn to communicate in ways that demonstrate mutual respect. Here's a five-step plan for a one-hour solution that can help such employees understand each other and cooperate to do their jobs better:
- Call everyone together for an informal meeting. Be sure to tell them what the meeting is about. Remind them that everyone must set aside petty gripes and adopt a proper attitude of . The only way to get good results is to focus the discussion on the work, not on personalities.
- Ask one side to take 15 minutes to list things that would make their job easier. If one side is a group, ask all members to participate. These are things the other individual or group would be asked to do. Record the items in the list on a flip chart. Request that the other side listen quietly and without comment.
- Reverse roles. Again, take 15 minutes for the second side to explain and list the things the first individual or group could do to make its job easier.
- For the final 30 minutes, open the floor to discussion. Remain passive and take notes as the employees negotiate the items on each list. You will find that the group will need very little guidance from you. At first, members may see several easy ways to cooperate with one another. Some other problems may be more difficult to work out, but with goodwill and serious attention from both sides, the results can be surprisingly effective.
- Write up the list of agreed-upon items from each side. Be sure that everyone explicitly agrees that these are workable solutions and that everyone is willing to put them in practice. Distribute the list to everyone present after the meeting.