As a manager, you understand the critical importance of each member of your team working harmoniously toward a common goal. Yet sometimes, an individual staff member's personal agenda can interfere with your group working together seamlessly — and your projects can suffer.

Here’s what you need to do: identify foolproof ways to foster cooperation, and get your group dynamic in sync. Follow this clear, research-proven advice to ensure excellent team collaboration, day after day.

Create an environment of fair benefit.

Recent Harvard research found that the atmosphere of a workplace determines whether employees act as "partners" or "rivals." If your staff feels it's appropriate to act as partners, they'll each accept the fact that sometimes one employee will get more praise or benefit from his/her role in helping a project succeed, but that in the end, cooperating as a team helps everyone win.

If your staff feels it's appropriate to act as rivals, however, competition and self-interest will sabotage any kind of group accomplishment.

To avoid these issues, let your employees know that your workplace runs on fairness: Employees who encourage their co-workers to succeed through cooperation will be rewarded with praise and incentives as well when a project succeeds. Those who pursue a selfish agenda and don't cooperate with their coworkers will also be noticed, but they'll get no payoff as an end result.

Foster big picture thinking.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo reported that when you ask your employees to think about the prospective long-term results of a project they're working on, they'll become more motivated to cooperate fruitfully with each other on each step of their task.

At your first group meeting on a project, outline the big picture benefits its successful completion will bring, such as more recognition to your company, bigger immediate profits and the opportunity to network with new clients to bring in more work. These positive possibilities can really motivate your team to pull together.

Discourage gloating.

An intriguing study from USC found that when you smile with too much self-satisfaction during any kind of victory, your gloating will cause others to behavior more aggressively, and non-cooperatively, toward you in the future. To prevent this kind of destructive dynamic from occurring, use yourself as an example.

Mention to your group that you received some praise from a superior, but quickly follow up this news by saying, "Getting singled out felt great, but what's more important to me is working closely with all of you, so we can pool our talents together."

Help your workers become more personally connected.

The more fun your co-workers have together, the more eager they'll be to help each other out while working together from a place of genuine rapport. Encourage this connection through fun activities.

You can order in lunch as a treat for the whole group on Fridays, so everyone can chat and eat together; celebrate your workers' personal milestones, like the birth or adoption of a child, with an office party; or organize company field trips to sporting events or concerts.

Start a compliment campaign.

Make a point of complimenting all of your employees for doing a good job on small tasks, and encourage your team leaders to do the same. Let all of your workers know you love nothing more than to hear them praising their peers when it's deserved as well.

Once genuine compliments become part of your company culture, everyone will bond so much tighter — and helping each other on every aspect of their jobs will become second nature. There's no better guarantee of success!