Check the Pulse of Your Team Working Skills
One of the most common questions you'll hear on an interview is 'Are you a team player?’, ‘What does an effective team member look like?’, or 'Do you prefer to work alone or in a team environment?'
January 6, 2019

One of the most common questions you'll hear on an interview is 'Are you a team player?’, ‘What does an effective team member look like?’, or 'Do you prefer to work alone or in a team environment?'

It's hard to know what to say. You want your boss to know you're reliable and work well autonomously, but that you also 'play well with others' and are a good collaborator. Even if you prefer to work on your own, every professional needs to have teamwork skills to succeed in the corporate world.

Teamwork has plenty of advantages, such as creating better products by bringing great ideas together, but it isn't always easy to foster a successful team. Different approaches, attitudes and work styles can get in the way of effective teamwork. Today, we will review the best teamwork skills every organisation should focus on.

1. Robust Communication Skills

Communication and collaboration skills are the cornerstones of good teamwork. If you want to be a good team leader, learn how to effectively communicate your ideas to the rest of the group — whether it's on the phone, in person or in an email.

Remember that your verbal communication is just as important as your nonverbal communication. If you are talking to someone with your arms crossed, you can come off as defensive. Be aware of your body language.

Many teams find it helpful to use a communication tool or software to foster robust communication. Samewave is one option — it’s a social performance management teamwork software. Team members can create goals and tasks, communicate via multiple chat streams, upload and store documents — and even generate automatic reports.

Even better, Samewave is free. Sign up today and download apps for your PC, Mac and mobile devices to improve your teamwork process.

2. Good Problem Solving Skills

When people work in groups, everyone has a different point of view. It's inevitable that problems will occasionally arise that need to be mitigated.

The best team leaders have management skills that allow teams to solve problems effectively while staying ahead of deadlines. Good problem-solving requires understanding the fundamental issues of a problem rather than focusing on the symptoms.

For example, if an organisation notices a trend of customers complaining more, they shouldn't just issue a refund and apologise. They should seek to understand the source of the complaint to improve the product or service, reducing or even eliminating the same kind of customer dissatisfaction.

3. Conflict Resolution and Interpersonal Skills

Conflict is a natural part of working in teams, especially when you have team members in a group who don't normally work together. Team leaders should enforce ground rules that help manage conflict and help the team do their best work.

So, what are good ground rules for teams? Every member of the team should try to assume positive intent and have good listening skills. Listening skills are an interpersonal skill that is often undervalued. Listening well means thoroughly and thoughtfully listening to a person before you start formulating your response in your head. Once you've started thinking about how to respond, you've already stopped listening.

Effective conflict management also means being able to see outside of your own perspective. Good team-working skills involve putting yourself in the other person's shoes and seeing things through a different lens. Rather than focusing on being right, focus on the 'win' for the entire team.

4. Team Building Activities

Team members do their best group work when they trust each other. And they trust each other more when they have a personal relationship and friendship outside of the workplace.

Create opportunities for the people in your organisation to spend time together outside of work in order to strengthen their working relationships. Plan recreational activities, happy hours, holiday parties and company-wide get togethers on a quarterly basis, at a minimum. This is especially important for remote teams that don't get the chance to spend face-to-face time together on a regular basis.

5. Make Respect a Part of Your Culture

Any team, no matter how talented, will never be successful if there isn't a high level of mutual respect between team members. Distrust and animosity will tear apart and ruin the productivity of the best teams.

Making a group rule to ‘be respectful’ won't be enough. Respect should be a part of your culture, organisational core values and vision. When someone isn't respectful, team members should feel safe to bring it up and manage the issue.

For example, if group decision making is ignored when one person tries to dominate the group and make all the calls, whoever notices it first should be able to speak up without being reprimanded or insulted.

Finally, colleagues are usually more open to clear communication if they feel respected for their ideas and efforts. Easy things team members can do are making good eye contact, actively listen and use the person's name they are talking with when they address the person.

Improve Your Team Working Skills Today

Some people love working in groups, and others wish they could work on their own without having to talk to someone all day. It's important to take varying work styles into account when working in teams.

Don't let one person do all the work because they are a natural leader and thrive working in groups. You'll miss out on the unique contributions that those who prefer working solo have to offer.

Create a culture that naturally fosters effective teamwork. Develop good ground rules, lean into conflicts so it's constructive rather than damaging, foster team building activities that bring co-workers together, practice good communication skills and problem-solving skills and most importantly — always strive to improve your processes on a consistent basis. The best teams have a focus on continual improvement, and they stay ahead of the competition as a result.

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