In today’s workplace, individual excellence can only take you so far. Employers are not only looking for outstanding performers. They are also looking for people with strong teamwork skills.
Teamwork skills are abilities and qualities that enable individuals to work well with others towards a common goal. According to a U.S. Survey, teamwork skills are among the key attributes that employers seek in resumés, along with problem-solving skills.
Teamwork in the professional and personal settings
If you’ve ever watched a relay race, then you know how important teamwork is. Each person has to do their part well, then pass the baton to the next runner. Otherwise, it would be impossible to reach the finish line.
The same is true in personal and professional settings. In a family, members need to pull their weight to keep a household running smoothly and maintain healthy relationships. In the workplace, teamwork is key to organisational success. Different perspectives and skills can come together to reach a shared goal.
Benefits of effective teamwork
Effective teamwork also leads to more benefits at work. These include better job satisfaction, improved productivity, and increased potential for innovation.
Burnout is reduced, as well. When there is a surge in teamwork quality, there is less emotional exhaustion among employees, because they know they have support from their co-workers. More importantly, a harmonious and collaborative culture promotes inclusion and creates a positive work environment.
Being a team player can be challenging, though. A good understanding of how team members interact, communicate, and collaborate is needed to foster a strong sense of teamwork. These so-called team dynamics dramatically impact how successful a team can be.
Strategic planning is needed to build an effective team. All members must know the collective goals and their role in achieving them. Creating a culture of trust and respect is also essential. People should be willing to share their ideas, expertise, and criticism without fear of being judged or ignored.
Collaboration should be encouraged, with enough opportunities for team members to work together and learn from each other.
Ready to play for the team, and play well? Here are vital skills you should master – and add to your resumé.
Most people assume that being a good listener means not interrupting the speaker, following along attentively, and being able to repeat what was said down to the last word. But it is more than that.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, good listening skills do not mean you act like a sponge and merely absorb information. Instead, a skilled listener is like “a trampoline who amplifies and supports a speaker’s thoughts by providing constructive feedback.”
If you want to be a good team member, always pay full attention whenever someone is speaking. Try to understand not just the message, but the emotions and intentions of the speaker, as well.
This leads to a dynamic conversation where teammates exchange ideas and feedback freely, promoting better collaboration. In contrast, poor listeners tend to be competitive or overly critical, only taking note of errors or points to challenge
In the same way that there is no “I” in “team”, there is no teamwork without communication. Effective communication is the foundation of successful teamwork. This allows co-workers to understand each other and get on the same page when completing projects and solving problems.
Without teamwork, things can quickly go wrong: In a study by Fierce, Inc., 86% of workers cite ineffective communication or the lack of collaboration as the primary source of workplace failures.
But what exactly does it take to be an effective communicator ? This skill entails having the ability to express oneself and convey information clearly, as well as to receive and understand messages accurately – both verbally and non-verbally.
The best way to hone this is through practice, and by following the five C’s :Be clear,concise,compelling,curious, andcompassionate. That said, when talking to your team, strive to be understood, and welcome feedback and criticism.
Minor misunderstandings and petty disputes between co-workers can arise any time, leading to workplace conflict – strained relationships, decreased productivity, and a toxic work environment.
This is why mediating between team members is a vital teamwork skill. It helps maintain good working relationships and ensures a smooth workflow.
In effectively managing conflicts, it is important to identify the source of the problem, listen to the parties involved, and work towards finding a mutually acceptable solution.
Let’s say you have two teammates with different ideas on how to execute a project. As a mediator, you can initiate a meeting where each person listens to the other’s perspective. They can then find common ground that combines the best aspects of their ideas.
In today’s fast-paced work environment, tasks, roles, and priorities can change frequently – and drastically, as the COVID era has taught us. It’s important to adapt quickly and be flexible to changing circumstances.
When working on a team, you also need to adjust to different personalities and work styles, and must be willing to take on new tasks.
Imagine working on a project initially planned for three months, but the deadline suddenly got moved up to two months. As a team player, you must adjust your schedule and re-prioritise tasks with your co-workers to meet the new target. In this situation, adaptability is critical for success.
Accountability is taking ownership of one’s responsibilities and actions. It creates a sense of reliability and fosters trust among colleagues. When team members hold themselves and each other accountable for tasks and assignments, they are more likely to meet deadlines and produce high-quality work.
Not surprisingly, this benefits overall team performance. According to research from Harvard University, mutual accountability makes workers more likely to make the necessary adjustments to ongoing work, paving the way for better results.
When dealing with other people – especially in a workplace that embraces diversity – treating each other well is a prerequisite to building healthy working relationships. You can show respect by treating others with dignity, acknowledging their value, and recognising their contributions.
Meanwhile, exercising empathy involves being considerate of the feelings and experiences of others, even if they are different from your own.
Naturally, people will be more open to communicating and working with you if you treat them as human beings. Simple acts like referring to someone by name and making eye contact when conversing can make a team member feel appreciated and valued, leading to better teamwork.
Here are some practical examples of how teamwork skills benefit workplace processes and improve professional relationships:
A work issue , like dealing with a client who’s unhappy with a campaign’s results, can be a massive burden when shouldered by just one person – say, the account executive (AE) assigned to the project.
Instead of leaving the AE to take this on by themselves, a good team will rally to work together to solve the problem. Together, they can come up with more ideas and solutions for better results.
When managers communicate tasks and goals efficiently and clearly, it allows for easier and more effective delegation, minimising confusion and delays.
For example, a team leader assigns tasks to individual team members based on their strengths and areas of expertise, while also considering the team’s needs. This ensures the efficient completion of tasks, while also building trust and rapport among team members.
According to a study published in theJournal of Business and Psychology,team members who received constructive feedback from their peers were more likely to engage in cooperative behaviour and improve their job performance. Great teams encourage giving and receiving criticism in a respectful and supportive manner.
Have you ever worked on a project that wasted everybody’s time because of poor planning and miscommunication? The lack of collaborative effort usually leads to unnecessary duplication of efforts and lots of wasted hours.
When team members align their schedules, deliverables, and deadlines, they can better prioritise tasks and allocate time efficiently.
Teamwork skills can create an atmosphere where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas, feedback, and concerns.
Case in point: A worker who is feeling overwhelmed with their workload will be more likely to open up to their colleagues and ask for help if they are part of a supportive team, versus one that is divisive or competitive.
Also worth noting: Teams with high levels of trust are more committed to achieving their goals, says a study published in theJournal of Applied Psychology.
As in-demand transferable skills, teamwork skills are applicable across multiple industries and job roles. When applying for a position, emphasise the specific teamwork skills mentioned in the job description.
You may also highlight them in the description of your work history. Provide examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits at work.
Some examples of teamwork skills you can highlight:
Add to your summary statement:
I am an experienced communications specialist with a passion for working with teams in creating effective marketing campaigns.
List as part of your key competencies:
Relevant skills: Proficient in English, possesses strong leadership skills, highly organised, adaptable, effective collaborator
As workplaces evolve, mastering the art of being a team player becomes even more critical. It allows better work efficiency, whether working onsite, remotely, or via a hybrid arrangement. Try these strategies to improve your teamwork skills at work:
Joining office-initiated activities such as quiz nights or karaoke sessions aren’t just good ways to de-stress. They’re the perfect avenues for forming great friendships at work.
Plus, aside from promoting more open communication amongst peers, they also help improve trust – especially among virtual teams with zero or limited face-to-face time.
Struggling with being an active listener? One way to be better at listening is to eliminate distractions, like your phone or laptop, when conversing with someone. Ask clarifying questions.
It also helps to paraphrase or repeat what the speaker said in your own words to ensure that you understood it correctly. Consider inquiring with management about training or workshops to improve your communication skills.
A mentor can provide professional guidance and support, helping improve your communication skills and enhance leadership – both necessary for creating effective teams. Regular feedback sessions, whether with your superior or among your peers, can help you identify their strengths and areas for improvement.
By knowing where you excel and where you fall short, you can be a better team member, and can focus on tasks that best suit your competencies.
Self-awareness goes a long way in improving how you interact with others. By taking stock of past experiences and evaluating individual and team contributions, team members can pinpoint their victories and failures and ultimately learn from them.
This is backed by science, too: Research has found that team learning is positively associated with individual performance. And when an individual succeeds, the team will most likely succeed, too.
Effective teamwork is challenging to pull off. Yet we live in an age where collaboration is prioritised in organisations, as collaborative activities have increased by 50% or more in the past two decades. These days, employees spend around 80% of the workday interacting with co-workers over deliverables.
Given this fact, it becomes more crucial for workers to learn how to conquer the common challenges that get in the way of teamwork.
Without these two, it will be hard to expect team members to work together willingly. Encouraging open communication is key, as well as fostering a culture of mutual respect – workplace initiatives that should start from the top.
The goal is to create an atmosphere where everyone feels safe to express their thoughts and ideas without worrying about being judged, mocked, or criticised.
Communication barriers, such as those arising from language and cultural differences, are linked to poor teamwork. They hinder the proper exchange of information and can lead to conflicts.
It should be everybody's priority to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to important work details – something a team can achieve with regular check-ins.
Personal issues can create tension among team members, resulting in a lack of cooperation and decreased productivity. They can also damage relationships among co-workers and lead to a toxic environment.
As mature adults, employees should seek to address and resolve personal conflicts quickly and effectively for everyone’s benefit. Leaders and managers should also be trained to mediate when necessary.
To encourage ownership and accountability among workers, it is important to properly communicate team members’ roles and responsibilities from the get-go and establish clear expectations for everyone. If you’re the team leader, make sure to lead by example, too, modelling accountability and holding yourself to high standards.
Conflicting opinions and a lack of consensus are serious roadblocks for any team. They can delay processes or cause unease among team members. To overcome this, the team needs to come together and consider all perspectives.
Then, come up with a decision that everyone agrees on, or at least a compromise that all can accept. Otherwise, a leader or manager may need to make the final decision.
Nurturing a culture of teamwork in remote arrangements can be tricky, given the lack of face-to-face interaction. It’s not impossible, though. Here are some tips:
Thanks to modern advancements, remote teams can use a variety of digital tools to collaborate efficiently. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Skype can replace in-person meetings. Project management software like Trello and Asana can help manage tasks and deadlines. Messaging apps like Viber and WhatsApp can be used for urgent discussions.
Since the virtual set-up offers more freedom and flexibility for workers, all members must understand what is expected of them during working hours. Regular alignment meetings help ensure that employees stay accountable for their tasks while keeping everyone up to speed on the status of a project.
The lack of social interaction in remote arrangements can cause feelings of isolation among employees, resulting in low team morale and decreased engagement.
To counteract this, employers should prioritise holding team-building activities. Online bingo contests or virtual happy hours allow workers to socialise and build relationships.
So you’ve done what you can to be a better team player. Now how do you know that it’s effective? Companies have varying ways of measuring the level of teamwork in an organisation. Evaluation is necessary for identifying areas for improvement and optimising processes.
According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the chief human resources agency in the U.S., one strategy is to approach it in four ways—with two metrics focused on measuring performance at the individual level, and two on measuring performance at the team level.
Feedback and surveys can also be used to assess teamwork. These entail gathering comments and insights from team members and stakeholders to evaluate the team's communication, collaboration, and overall performance.
Since John Maxwell popularised the line “ teamwork makes the dream work ”, it has been adopted by leaders, teams, and organisations. Science backs this up, describing teamwork as “a cooperative process that allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.”
With companies becoming more connected and collaborative than ever before, it is essential for employees to be well-equipped with teamwork skills. These can significantly contribute to personal development and organisational success.
The challenge now is for you, the job seeker, to maximise this opportunity to get ahead and boost your career prospects – both as an individual achiever and as a team player. If you can demonstrate your ability to work effectively in a team setting, you are more likely to succeed in your career.
Check out our Career Advice page or download JobStreet’s app available on the App Store and Google Play for more tips that can guide you in navigating your career and professional relationships. It also offers expert insights and advice to help you manage your mental health and well-being in the workplace.