HR Talent Alignment and Positive Culture = Cooperative Gain

Cooperative gain is a phrase I heard once used in a scientific context and adapted to Human Resource management here .

Cooperative gain

This is what happens when company goals and values are shared by employees, supervisors and owners.  Job design and employee activities are aligned for working productively and respectfully toward company success. The “gain” is that company goals are achieved and employees enjoy their work.  It feels like a good place to work.  Issues are dealt with swiftly and decisively. Employees who work there want to be there.  Employees weigh in on company decisions.  They feel heard and owners make sound, thoughtful decisions.

Uncooperative gain

This is when the company has low or modest profits and overall financial results even though employee activities are not particularly aligned with company goals. Company needs are met to some degree but employees are disengaged.  In this case, the company has either an incredible product/service with steady demand or employees are relatively powerless. It may also be that employees are not the “most important” asset – manufacturing or other heaving equipment and materials with little human intervention. The modest company gains may not be sustainable because employee negativity and lack of alignment will eventually bring about a failure to adapt to market changes. In addition, employee apathy or even sabotage is more likely here with the potential to curtail forward progress.

Cooperative loss

This is where employees and the company are aligned in activities and values but the company experiences financial or market share losses.  It may be that owners are not savvy or strategic and haven’t recruited the right talent. Or it could be a result of unexpected market change; sudden loss of key personnel; competitor breakthroughs; patent expiration or other factors outside employee control. Unforeseen changes in federal policies or applicable regulations may also produce this situation.

Uncooperative loss

This is where the company is suffering losses because employee engagement is lacking.  The company’s failure to enlist employees in organizing to support company goals results in disorganized corporate culture, unclear values or values which do not include integrity, professionalism or respect. Perhaps employees are distracted from their work by chaotic employee relationships, fear, intimidation and toxic employee bullying. Maybe the company has never stated its concept of the ideal culture.  Recruitment and performance evaluations fail to consider employee commitment to the values and results required to achieve financial goals. Left unattended, this sort of environment results in ongoing difficulties, acquisitions and sometimes, in company failure.

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One Comment

  1. Suzanne, I enjoyed your article. You certainly indicate that culture is a significant factor in achieving cooperative gain. According the Edgar Schein, the concept of organizational culture poses a dilemma because there is presently little agreement on what the concept (culture) does and should mean. Schein introduces us to the extraordinary complexity of culture by detailing three levels; artifacts, espoused values and assumptions and speaks to the challenges of measuring culture. It is critical that we continue to understand and diagnose the interaction and dependencies between these layers as you have chronicled. John

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