Throughout your life, you’ve probably been a part of many teams.
Some of these experiences were likely better than others because of how the team functioned.
Maybe your office softball team supported everyones’ strengths and was unstoppable on the field, but in the office, you were assigned group work with a team that struggled to delegate tasks and accept constructive feedback.
Fostering effective teamwork in an office setting is especially important to get things done on time. We’re often paired with strangers, which makes it harder to speak honestly about things that need changing.
These teams can also change frequently, making it difficult to find and stick with a successful team dynamic.
The best way to enjoy great teamwork throughout your career is to develop core teamwork skills. Whether a team works effectively together reflects how well everyone has embraced these skills, and you can build better teams by fostering them yourself.
What are teamwork skills?
Teamwork means working with others to reach a common goal. Teamwork skills are the things we do to accomplish this more effectively.
Sometimes, the goal we’re working toward determines the skills we’ll employ. For example, winning a basketball game requires sharing, task delegation, and good communication skills.
Creating a piece of software requires working independently toward a common goal, attaining missing hard skills, and being adaptable.
But many teamwork skills are helpful in all group work settings. Here are some examples:
Good teams work best when members feel empowered to voice their opinions and give others constructive feedback. Every member’s perspective is important, but varying outlooks can cause conflict.
Keeping the final objective present and using healthy communication and conflict resolution skills to work through differences is essential.
Completing a project or creating a presentation requires critical thinking from everyone on the team. Problem-solving is inevitable, so teams must build rapport with one another and use collaboration skills to make important group decisions as challenges crop up.
A team is the sum of its parts. High-performing teams delegate responsibilities according to everyone’s strengths. This requires effective project management, both from team leaders but also internally. Each member should know what to take on and how to delegate tasks they can’t complete.
Effectively managing projects isn’t all about playing to your strengths — it also requires self-awareness and care. Good time management skills are required to collaborate effectively. If you fall behind on your work, so does the entire team.
Knowing when to step up and lead and when to step back and be led are good examples of teamwork. Teamwork shouldn’t be a hierarchy — good teams equally value all players.
When the whole team works as one, everyone can learn from each other, which benefits the group as new projects and challenges arise.
People must feel appreciated to do their best work, so a great leadership skill is showing gratitude. Goals are easier to achieve when everyone feels valued and motivated.
Why teamwork matters
You can’t accomplish all your goals alone. Teamwork is important because it allows you to learn from and collaborate with your colleagues and loved ones to achieve goals faster.
Good teams bring together a diverse set of information, experience, and skills. Solid teamwork skills also make businesses more productive and profitable.
Effective teamwork can also reduce burnout, which affects 76% of American workers and costs companies up to 20% off payroll because of voluntary turnover.
When coupled with healthy organizational support, teams that focus on building strong interpersonal skills (like regular check-ins, constructive feedback, and collaborative problem-solving) provide emotional support that mitigates burnout.
Teamwork at home
Building strong personal relationships is about promoting equity. Teamwork allows us to learn from our friends and family and show we value their assistance and perspective.
Keeping up with home responsibilities can be stressful, and it’s important for households to share an equitable view of household labor. With an equitable view and open approach, couples and families can find better solutions to any conflict that emerges at home.
How to improve your teamwork skills
Effective teamwork is valuable in every area of our lives. It’s no wonder recruiters often watch out for teamwork skills on a resume and hiring managers ask questions regarding collaboration.
Here are six teamwork skills that will help you thrive in any workplace:
1. Active listening
You can only solve a problem you understand, and your team members will only feel encouraged to share their perspectives if they feel listened to, so actively listening is an essential team-building skill.
Active listening is when we use tactics like remembering key facts and engaged body language to increase focus. By retaining key information and making the speaker feel heard, we’ll be able to deliver more insightful responses and encourage them to share more often.
2. Observational learning
Working together as a group offers the chance to learn from those with different experiences and backgrounds.
Pay attention to your team members, and consider how they apply their knowledge to problem-solving, communicating, and giving and receiving feedback. Observe their healthy habits and try incorporating them into your life.
3. Hard skills
Although we most readily associate strong teamwork with developing soft skills like listening and communication, our teams also depend on our technical knowledge and capabilities. If teams lack the expertise to resolve tasks, they’re less effective.
Imagine you’re working on software development for a client and don’t have anyone on your team with experience coding in the language requested. Someone on your team must develop this skill or a new hire who knows the language should be onboarded.
Someone from another team might be able to help you, too. Staying on top of your hard skills and each team member’s strengths will help your team move efficiently toward your goals.
4. Goal setting
Setting goals allows you to organize your thoughts and strategically follow a plan. Goal planning provides direction and milestones, in turn increasing motivation levels.
Creating productive team goals makes an enormous difference to a team’s success. Each member will know what’s expected of them and how to get there, and goal-setting makes it easier for each member to understand the bigger picture.
Try setting short and long-term SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relatable, and time-bound. Once you’ve set realistic goals and a strategy for each one, check in with each other and offer feedback and encouragement along the way.
Diverse teams offer different perspectives and varied experiences that won’t always align with your own. Stay open-minded and try to find common ground between your view and others to foster empathy and understanding. This practice will decrease conflict and increase mental flexibility.
No matter how in-depth you’ve made your action plan, things change. Being adaptable is about keeping an open mind when you’re presented with challenges, and viewing them as opportunities to learn and grow.
When we refuse to be flexible, we stall progress. Rather than run away or dwell on feedback, unexpected hurdles, and worst-case scenarios, practice developing a solution-biased, resilient mindset by focusing on what you can do to move forward.
Life is a team sport
Professional success requires us to lean on the people around us, and we’ll enjoy happier, more fulfilling relationships if they’re built on equity and collaboration.
Learning to be a team player isn’t a simple task. Developing teamwork skills like effective delegation and active listening takes practice. But honing these skills will help you reach work and life-related goals faster. It also sets a good example for your team and others in your organization.
When everyone’s developing their teamwork skills, project progress will be seamless.