Teamwork – what is this skill and how to develop it
Unspoken rule: if you don’t know what soft skills to include in your resume, write “teamwork and stress resistance.” We talked about the latter earlier, and in this article, we explain:
What is teamwork
Working in a team is the ability to perform tasks within the framework of a common cause with other people.
Team sports demonstrate skill in action. For example, on a volleyball court, all players have a single goal and strategy, but each has its area of responsibility.
What makes successful teamwork
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – this thought of Aristotle is more than two thousand years old, but it is still relevant. So much so that it formed the basis of a large-scale Google study – the Aristotle project.
The specialists of the largest Internet corporation studied hundreds of work teams in their divisions to derive a formula for success. The bet was made on the stellar composition: the hypothesis was that the stronger and more suitable each other in character participants to recruit into the team, the greater the heights it would achieve. But it turned out that team triumph depends on other factors.
- Psychological safety. Everyone should have an opportunity and a comfortable environment to speak out. And it doesn’t matter at what level of the hierarchy a person is: in a well-built team, everyone can share their thoughts on developing a product or company without fearing being unheard or stumbling upon condescending comments. Another marker is the ability of the participants to say that they needed help understanding the task honestly, underestimated the complexity, and did not meet the deadline. Admitting mistakes is uncomfortable, but if avoided, disaster is inevitable. When colleagues are confident in the team, they know they will be backed up, and problems can be solved with minimal losses.
- Confidence in mutual reliability. It is difficult to succeed by always looking back at a lazy and irresponsible comrade. Trust in colleagues is an important detail, and it must be justified.
- Clear tasks and deadlines. The clearer the participants understand what, how, and when to do it, the better the result. More detailed technical tasks should happen.
- Clear goals. The team that succeeds is the one that knows where it’s going:
- Release a product or update on time, sell for a specific amount, and receive and complete an order for a record advance.
- A massive increase in salaries is a monetary motivation.
- There is also a reputational option: the company will reach the level of the premium segment by renting a stylish office in the center and arranging a team building by the sea. A clearer picture of the desired results – higher work efficiency.
- Personal goals also need to be considered and create conditions for their achievement. Someone comes to work to take the family on vacation, looking for self-realization and a place where they feel useful.
- The importance of each. Each team member must know that their contribution brings results and brings them closer to the common goal.
Why teamwork is important for success
This skill is ranked #10 on LinkedIn’s 2023 Most Wanted Skill list. Forming powerful teams is a global trend.
Top universities and companies encourage people to do joint projects. And that’s why.
Reason 1: teamwork is conducive to the birth of innovations, the rapid search for errors, and the choice of the optimal solution to problems. All this results from active listening and employees’ freedom to express ideas. That is psychological security.
Reason 2: Well-established teamwork saves resources that are spent on hiring and onboarding newcomers. People want to stay longer where the principles of mutual respect, fair pay, and transparency of communication work.
Reason 3: Teamwork helps you make bold decisions. Choosing a more risky but promising option is easier when you know you will be supported and share the responsibility for a difficult choice. And where there are big risks, there are often big profits.
How to Improve Teamwork Skills
Formulate a team player manifesto for yourself. This set of rules is similar to school friendship vows in some places.
- Don’t “knock.” If a colleague makes a mistake, don’t take your time telling your boss or gossip over dinner. It is more productive and more profitable to help and fix the problem together.
- Don’t keep score. Noticing your achievements and praising yourself for your progress are good habits. But keeping the standings in mind and chasing the number of recognition points from the authorities is not a good idea. Rivalry is useful, but in limited doses: the purpose of the work should be focused on something other than the desire to rub the nose of colleagues.
- Admit mistakes and give honest feedback. Flattery, belittling other people’s merits, silence instead of necessary criticism – all this can be useful for career growth. But not for the team’s success and the product’s quality.
- Respect someone else’s opinion. The postulate “There are only two opinions – mine and wrong” – limits thinking and harms progress.
- Go to corporate parties, team building, and work lunches. Not necessarily everything, but sometimes spending time with colleagues outside of work tasks is the easiest way to pump up empathy in teamwork.
Following these rules is the first step, and the second is practice.
- Ask for feedback regularly. Criticism, which they asked for, will hit softer than the same remarks in the mandatory recall of colleagues or superiors. By asking other team members for their opinions, you acknowledge their expertise and show respect. As a result, everyone wins: you get highlighted points of growth, colleagues note your indifference and reliability, and the team improves results.
- Watch natural team players. Analyze office pets. Such characters are ready to listen to a colleague under stress, cover a latecomer for a phone call and help a newcomer even before he asks for it. Notice how colleagues support each other, insure and answer questions.
- Listen. On phone calls, meetings, dinners – everywhere. The more opinions, ideas, and hypotheses you hear, the greater the chance to support an interesting project in time and shine in the team as an attentive and sensitive interlocutor.
- Take the initiative. Actively take tasks to work, research, and look for ideas to promote a company or product. So you will see what profit you bring to the team, and colleagues will be convinced that you can solve problems and take responsibility.
- Learn to enjoy the joint process. Sharing memes in chats, listening to music, and decorating the office Christmas tree is fun. And it’s nice to participate in brainstorming sessions, win tenders and find solutions to complex cases together: team cohesion causes releases of oxytocin, the “love” hormone.
Can an introvert become a team player?
Yes. Teamwork is a skill, which means it can be developed with practice.
Liane Davey, author of business team-building programs and training and a jury member at the APA Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards, advises introverts to avoid people. If ideas are closer to you than their physical carriers, consider the team a free library of thoughts and hypotheses.
Often introverted people can:
- listen long and carefully
- do not interrupt
- enter into an argument deliberately after a detailed study of the arguments in your head.
These skills can be a significant advantage in a team. The player under the net in volleyball stands with his back to his opponents, does not receive the service, and rarely attacks. But he can see his team better: you can assess the strengths and weaknesses and make a deliberate pass.
Here are some more tips from Liane Davey:
- Practice at a loud volume: sometimes, what seems like an inappropriate shout to you is a whisper to others.
- If you’re nervous before the meeting and don’t need more time to be ready to draw attention to the discussion, pitch ideas to key participants in private. So the company will notice your suggestions and initiatives.