Human Resources Management

Successful co-operation, ensure trust

May 24, 2013 | 1 min read

Which psychological aspects are involved when companies proceed to work together? That was the question that Professor in organization psychology, Sandra Schruijer, tried to answer during the first of four Entrepreneurial Lectures at the TIAS School for Business and Society. “We decide to work together because we are different, but psychological studies show that we fear differences. Because of this paradox, working together is not an easy thing to do.”

Co-operation within a single organization can be challenging, but with numerous different organizations, the support of colleagues is also an aspect. “Colleagues want to exercise control as well, and so the people gathering around the table face a potentially double conflict, namely with the other representatives and with their own colleagues.” In addition, there are always ghosts at every negotiating table; factors that are not visible are in play, and these influence what happens at the table. “The person absent but still present, for example. That is, for example, the minister who is not actually at the table, but who is taken into account. And so you often hear the remark: the minister is of the opinion or, would the minister approve of that?”, according to Schruijer.

Transparency and openness

Which is why Schruijer is in favor of creating a climate that allows for transparency and openness of all parties concerned. This will enable trust to build up; one of the conditions for a successful co-operation. “There is never instant trust, that always takes a while. Give it time. By coming to agreements from the start – on how or when meetings will take place, for example, or on the work itself – and observing these, trust can build up gradually.” Creating a minimal structure in the form of ground rules can help in building up trust. “For example, parties can agree that there must be mutual respect for one another. Should a party feel it has been treated improperly, then it should be given the freedom to bring that to the table.” Face-to-face-contact also helps in building up trust.

Schruijer emphasized that co-operation starts as soon as parties begin to check one another out. Even if a collective goal is as yet lacking, parties must still work together towards establishing the conditions for a successful co-operation. “You should not exclude any parties at that time, simply because they are too small or not interesting. As long as the parties do not share a definition of the problem in hand, one cannot know who can contribute to the co-operation and who cannot do so.”

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