By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on July 4, 2013
Improving productivity and being more effective is the work mantra of the 21st century. The workplace has also changed as teamwork and shared roles are essential for success.
However, working in a team is not always easy, and achieving objectives often turns out to be much more difficult than imagined.
A new study from Aarhus University’s transdisciplinary Interacting Minds Centre (IMC) provides insight on how to improve productivity when members of a group share a clearly identifiable goal.
“Our study focused on how to improve levels of cooperation. What we found was that when people know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing as members of a team, they are more willing to trust each other and cooperate more in the future,” says Panos Mitkidis, a postdoctoral scholar at Aarhus University, Denmark.
Aarhus’s study, recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests that instead of following a process without a clearly defined objective, levels of cooperation improve when we know exactly what our goals are.
The study provides a clue about how science can help us to become more cooperative and productive by switching the focus to goals instead of focusing on processes.
Successful cooperation depends on knowing more than just the rules and processes in which we are involved.
“Knowing exactly what our goals are actually appears to increase our perception of cooperation, trust and shared expectations.
“In fact, the study showed that when the people involved could see the end product they felt they were sharing a collective goal and were therefore more willing to trust and cooperate with their colleagues,” says Mitkidis.
Trust and clear goals are important ingredients in successful cooperation between people in all types of settings.
“Cooperation is a prerequisite for most types of human relations from love to business, and from everyday interactions to more complicated activities. For instance, making dinner with your partner is easier when you know exactly what to cook and have a clear goal.
“And running a business or an experiment at CERN is also easier if you know precisely what you’re trying to achieve,” says Mitkidis.
In a world where productivity is at the center of discussion, the study provides a clue about how science can help us to be more productive.
The study provides insight for managers in the worlds of business and administration, where cooperation and productivity are always important.
“The study develops an insight into the benefits and consequences of rationalizing administrative processes in modern states and formal institutions. In business corporations some important questions are: how can we make sure that all employees have a clear goal for the work they do, and how can we build trust on a business level?” explains Mitkidis.