Teamwork skills | Main Region

Why teamwork is important and how to develop your skills

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Teamwork is a vital skill for your career success. If you excel at teamwork, you gain a reputation as someone who works well with other team members to achieve common goals, whether that’s in a two-minute conversation or a year-long project.

Effective team working is also essential for an organisation’s success, which is why “Do you work best independently or as part of a team?” is a common job interview question. Regardless of whether it’s on a daily or adhoc basis, most jobs require at least a basic teamwork ability so that you can get along with others and use your unique skills to help reach common goals. Even if your role mostly involves working on your own, there will be times when you need to pull together to meet a shared goal. The importance of teamwork couldn't be clearer.

While teamwork doesn’t come naturally to everyone, it is a skill you can learn. So, if you feel that the importance of teamwork to your career success means you need to improve your ability to work well in a team, the following tips can help you get started. We’ll explore the importance of teamwork, how to improve your teamwork skills and how to demonstrate your teamwork skills to employers.

Why do employers value teamwork?

Teamwork is more conducive to productivity

Firstly, when projects are steered by individuals, the individual shoulders the entirety of the workload. But when employees collaborate with a team of skilled professionals on a project, all team members share the workload.

At the same time, people working in a team together possess a range of different skill sets. This diversity of skills can improve outcomes.

There’s also more opportunities to match each individual team member’s skills and strengths with the tasks they’re best-equipped to complete in the course of the project.

Staff relationships often grow stronger

When employees work in silos, their communication, big-picture view and knowledge are restricted. But when working in a team and enlisting various people to collaborate on projects and solve problems, your employees are more likely to instigate and participate in productive conversations for the purposes of shared goals. By working in a team, they’re also more likely to contribute positively and help and support each other.

Employees who collaborate effectively start to think as a team motivated by shared goals. Stronger bonds and relationships between team members also create a solid workplace culture and improve staff morale.

Corporate knowledge is elevated across the organisation

All employees bring their own corporate knowledge, commercial acumen and experience to teams

When working in a team, employees exchange and share ideas, knowledge and information, and that intellectual capital becomes more concentrated across the organisation.

This heightens the potential of the organisation to fulfil its strategic goals.

How to develop your teamwork skills

Now that we know why teamwork is important, it's time to take steps to improve your teamwork skills. If you want to improve your skills, you can start by targeting skills development in the following areas.

Understand the team’s objectives

For a team to work together towards a successful outcome, everyone involved must understand the common goal. Make sure you understand and accept the common objective.

Understand your individual responsibilities

Be clear about your own individual responsibilities, and the roles and responsibilities of all members of the whole team. Understand what your role in the team does and doesn’t cover, so you deliver what your team members require of you. Remain accountable and don’t let any business task fall through the cracks.

Be positive

Be supportive of your fellow team members. Give positive feedback, approach collaboration with a supportive mindset, share credit and maintain an enthusiastic attitude throughout a project, especially when deadlines are looming and the team’s stress levels rise.

When problems arise, avoid complaining. Instead, refer to your shared goal and work together to come up with suitable solutions.

Communicate and receive ideas:

To work together effectively in a team, you need to open your lines of communication so that you both share ideas and receive feedback. You need to not only understand others, but ensure your own messages are understood.

To confirm your communication skills are up to scratch, pay attention to how effectively you communicate information to others, both verbally and non-verbally. For instance, look at some of your recent written communication and reflect on how concisely and clearly you have shared information. How would you rate the quality of your communication? Was your message clear? What areas for improvement can you identify? Also consider how responsive you are to requests for information from stakeholders and colleagues.

Equally important is how you receive information. Be open to receiving both positive and constructive feedback. Remember, in order to work well together, everybody in a team, including you, should be proactive about communicating. There are a range of communication skills you may need to improve to communicate effectively in a team.

Actively listen to ideas and feedback:

Are you an active listener? To avoid misunderstandings and ensure everyone in the team feels that their contribution is valued, it’s important to be an active listener. Pay attention to other team members’ verbal and non-verbal communication. Give them your full attention and ask questions if you need further clarification.

Even if you disagree with a particular team member, have an open mind and look at the issue from their perspective. Together, this opens you to the views of everyone in your team.

Problem solving:

At the heart of teamwork is problem-solving, big and small. The more adept you are at solving problems in your workplace environment, the more positive an impact you can have participating in your team.

To be an effective problem solver, ensure that you clearly identify the problem you are endeavouring to solve. If necessary, take some time to research, then align with your fellow team members to ensure you all see the problem the same way. This will save unproductive conversations that fail to hit on the same issue.

Don’t forget to brainstorm a range of solutions. Take the time to evaluate each idea objectively. It might be that one single solution is the answer to a problem; however, it might be that an amalgam of solutions is the best way forward.

Sometimes there might not be complete consensus, but the best solutions are often those that have majority support across the team. If there’s division, negotiate and compromise. Remember to document the key points and items of actions in team settings, so everybody is on the same page on the next steps to take when it’s time to get to work.

Manage your time effectively:

Good time managers set aside time to plan how to be most productive. Learn how to order your tasks by priority and urgency. Minimise the time you spend working outside designated work hours to complete tasks. Safeguard time that you need to focus on important tasks.

Excelling in all these areas makes you a much more capable team player who sets manageable deadlines and delivers what your team need from you, when they need it.

How to demonstrate your teamwork skills to employers

Given the importance employers are placing on teamwork today, proving you have these skills in your resume and in a job interview will enhance your appeal as a job candidate.

However, to really make an impression on a potential employer, you’ll need to add more to your CV than mere statements that you are a good team player.

Instead, share successes that demonstrate your teamwork skills. For instance, perhaps you were part of a team that won a lucrative client contract, implemented a new system or delivered a key project ahead of schedule.

Such concrete examples allow you to show recruiters and hiring managers that you have successfully used your teamwork skills.

When applying for jobs or attending interviews, think about quantities of targets you’ve hit within your team. You can also talk about your key achievements within team projects or the number of projects you’ve worked on in team settings.

Be a team player

The importance of teamwork and working well with fellow team members can’t be underestimated. As a highly sought-after soft skill in today’s workplace, taking the time to develop your teamwork skills and knowing how to prove them to a potential employer will aid your career development. It may take time to improve these skills, but by mastering teamwork you’ll be seen as a more effective and valuable group team member.

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Free online learning courses with Hays Learning

Now that you know what is meant by teamwork skills and work effectively in a team, you can further improve your teamwork skills with online learning courses.

Hays Learning is our online learning platform covering technical, digital and soft skills. With Hays Learning, you can access a range of free online learning courses, including in critical thinking.

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