How to improve your teamwork skills (with examples for your resumé)

How to improve your teamwork skills (with examples for your resumé)
SEEK content teamupdated on 13 November, 2023
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Effective teamwork goes so much further than pushing a project to the finish line. It’s about building relationships, listening to your peers and helping achieve a common goal together. Teamwork skills are vitally important to develop and help you succeed both in and out of the workplace.

So, what do we mean by teamwork? Put simply, the general teamwork definition is: a group of people coming together and working collaboratively to complete a task or achieve a goal. Teamwork skills encompass a broad range of abilities and behaviours that allow for effective and harmonious work. Some of the benefits of good teamwork include:

  • More effective communication

  • Improved problem-solving skills

  • Greater trust

  • A more enjoyable company culture

  • Boosted efficiency

  • Increased engagement

  • Motivated high performers

  • Better brainstorming, creativity and innovation

Building effective teams

Fostering effective teamwork starts with building a team that welcomes collaboration and cooperation. Building a successful team requires careful consideration of each member’s individual goals, needs, motivations and personality, as well as how each member works within team dynamics. 

To successfully collaborate, every team needs one thing: a common purpose. Each team member should understand the why behind what it is you’re all trying to achieve. This helps each person develop a clear understanding of their team’s role within the organisation and their role within the team. while inspiring passion for the common purpose. 

With a common purpose and clear objectives, team members have what they need to collaborate together and work in the same direction.  

Whether on the field or in the office, an effective team understands the meaning of teamwork. That is: each individual striving to work as best they can to achieve the team's common goals and objectives.

Essential teamwork skills

Effective teamwork relies on a range of different skills, many of which relate specifically to the different facets of communication. Part of building an effective team involves helping each team member develop these essential teamwork skills. Here are just a few of the skills that play an important role when it comes to teamwork.

Active listening 

There’s listening and then there’s active listening. Active listening involves going beyond just hearing the words someone is saying, and paying attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues. It's through active listening that you can fully understand what someone is trying to tell you.

Conflict resolution

Even the most successful teams are likely to experience internal conflicts from time to time. It’s how they actively work toward a resolution that sets these teams apart. The ability to resolve conflicts peacefully is an essential interpersonal skill that relies on active listening and empathy.

Flexibility and adaptability

A big part of effective communication is understanding that everyone communicates in different ways. As a member of a team, it’s important to be flexible and adapt your communication style to suit those around you. You can get better at this by practising different ways of communicating in your personal and professional life. 

Accountability

Being accountable means owning your actions and their consequences, good and not-so-good. Throughout life – including in the workplace – it’s important to take accountability for your actions and their outcomes. When you’re accountable for your contributions in a team setting it encourages you to work harder, boosting your confidence, skills and performance. 

Respect and empathy

Successful teams have members who respect one another and work hard to understand where others are coming from, even if they don’t necessarily agree. A big part of showing respect is the ability to empathise with another person's point of view, which is vital for effective communication. Empathy is one of the best qualities you can cultivate, since it plays an important role in conflict resolution, negotiation and collaboration. Keen to work on your empathy? Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to better understand their perspective.

Effective communication

Great communication skills go hand in hand with the elements of teamwork outlined above. Once you’ve mastered effective communication skills you can use them to create strong bonds within your team, boosting productivity, engagement and satisfaction.

Examples of teamwork skills in action

As you can see, there’s a wide range of skills that fall underneath ‘teamwork’. How do they relate to you and your job? Here are some teamwork skills examples that show how they can be applied in the workplace.

Collaborative problem solving

As the saying goes, 'A problem shared is a problem halved’, and this is especially true in the workplace. Collaborative problem solving can help you achieve solutions faster and more effectively. Plus, when a team works collaboratively to overcome a problem, it can help foster a sense of achievement and unity.

Problem-solving example: When facing a tough challenge, bring the team together for some brainstorming or mind mapping. Whip out some paper and markers (or use a whiteboard) and get everyone to contribute solutions, no matter how abstract. Not only can this help enhance teamwork, but it can also spur the team to think more creatively about solutions to obstacles.

Effective delegation

In a team environment, it’s often necessary to delegate tasks to individual team members – especially under tight deadlines. While effective delegation allows you to tap into team members’ areas of expertise, it also provides opportunities for team members to upskill in less familiar areas.  

Effective delegation example: A team has been tasked with preparing a report based on a research project. The team manager delegates all tasks related to data analysis to a team member who is highly skilled in analytics. Once the analysis is complete, the manager passes the insights onto a skilled writer within the team to complete the written aspect of the report.

Giving and receiving feedback

Both providing and receiving feedback are essential for improving your performance and mastering new skills. When delivering feedback, it’s essential to ensure it’s constructive and specific, so the person receiving the feedback is able to easily take advice on board and make the necessary improvements. 

Feedback example: Sometimes it can help to deliver feedback when it’s sandwiched between two compliments, so you’re not just focusing on the negatives. For example: “I think you did a really great job articulating insights from the latest research project. To make your next report even better, I think it would be helpful if you did a final proof to catch any mistakes. Your analysis is always on point and I’m excited to see what you come up with next!”  

Time management

A critical aspect of any project is making sure it’s delivered on time. Having strong time-management skills means you’re able to manage your workload effectively and meet your deadlines while producing high-quality work. In a team setting, your time-management skills can positively influence other team members to work on their own skills, so they can collaborate more effectively and achieve goals on time. 

Time management example: When it comes to time management, nothing beats a to-do list! Start the day by writing a list each morning. Outline the tasks that are a priority, making sure you get to them first. Enjoy the sense of satisfaction you get ticking off your tasks as you complete them. 

Building trust and rapport

A lack of trust is a common barrier to effective communication and teamwork, so it’s essential to build a rapport with your peers. A team that trusts each other is often more motivated to perform and more comfortable sharing ideas that can drive creativity and innovation.

Building trust example: the most common teamwork in the workplace examples are team-building exercises – and for good reason! Participating in team-building activities can be a fun way to foster trust and rapport among your team. It can be helpful to take a step back from work and provide a safe environment for team members to have fun, speak freely and get to know each other.

Teamwork skills to list on your resumé

Generally speaking, listing ‘teamwork’ as a skill on your resume isn’t quite specific enough – especially when you really want to emphasise how well you work with others. Teamwork skills encompass a broad range of different skills, so it’s important to be specific and list abilities that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. 

There are so many different abilities you can include on your resumé that demonstrate excellent teamwork skills, including:

  • Collaboration

  • Communication

  • Conflict resolution

  • Flexibility/agility

  • Accountability

  • Leadership

  • Empathy

  • Active listening

  • Dependability/trustworthiness

  • Respect

Listing these different teamwork skills on your resumé is one thing, but it’s also important to make sure you have a few real-life examples of teamwork that you can draw on so you’re ready for an interview.

How to improve teamwork skills

Practice makes perfect, and it’s the only way to improve and continuously develop your teamwork skills. These skills take time and effort to master, but the good news is there are a number of different ways you can improve them.

Participate in team-building exercises

Team-building activities are great tools for boosting communication, cooperation and engagement in your team. Get creative and look for different, enjoyable activities that encourage teamwork, to ensure everyone is engaged and having fun. 

Practise active listening and communication

At first, it might not be easy to engage in active listening in every conversation you have. But if you practise each day, you can develop this skill to the point where it becomes second nature. Instead of just hearing people speak, give them your full attention and be attentive to their verbal and non-verbal cues, asking questions when you need clarification. 

Seek out mentorship and feedback

While your workplace might offer official mentorship programmes, seeking out everyday feedback from your superiors and your workmates is also a great way to improve your skills. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas to improve on, so you can boost your performance and hone your teamwork skills. 

Engage in team reflection and self-evaluation

Sometimes it can be helpful to take time out as a team to reflect on your performance and engage in self-evaluation. Although external feedback can be incredibly helpful, self-reflection can give you another perspective on what you did well and things that could be improved upon.

Overcoming common challenges to teamwork

Creating a successful team doesn’t happen overnight. Even the most collaborative team will face challenges they need to overcome – success is a continuous process of reflection and improvement. To this end, developing effective teamwork skills can help the team as a whole work through whatever issues arise. 

Common challenges that many teams face include:

  • Lack of trust and respect

  • Lack of clarity on their responsibilities or the overall goal

  • Poor communication

  • Personal conflicts and misunderstandings

  • Lack of accountability and ownership

  • Difficulty with decision making

Focusing on improving teamwork skills is one of the best ways to overcome these types of challenges and prevent them from cropping up again in the future.

Fostering teamwork in remote and virtual settings

Many companies now offer remote work, which comes with its own set of teamwork pros and cons. But remote work is nothing new, and there are plenty of examples of good teamwork in virtual settings. Thanks to advances in technology, remote working opens new doors for collaboration and teamwork.

Here are some simple steps you can take to improve teamwork and collaboration in a virtual setting.

Establish clear expectations and guidelines for remote work

Keep your team on track for success by establishing clear goals and expectations. Make sure that the goals are specific and achievable. That way, each team member knows what the endpoint is and everyone works together to achieve the common goal.

Use technology for effective communication

With so many different digital platforms to keep in touch with your colleagues, maintaining effective communication within a team is easier than ever before. Often the biggest challenge is simply finding the right technology and tools to suit your team's needs. Encompassing communication, project management, time tracking and more, tech doesn’t just foster effective communication, it can also make your operations more efficient.

Maintain team morale and motivation

Motivating a team can be challenging at the best of times, let alone when everyone is working remotely. Keeping your team motivated is a skill in itself, which can ultimately lead to greater satisfaction, improved productivity and better staff retention. Whether it’s a Friday casual catch-up or a Zoom games afternoon, it’s important to get together online to celebrate wins and milestones. Not only will this help keep your team motivated, it’s also a way to acknowledge their achievements and make them feel seen, no matter how far away they are. 

Measuring and evaluating teamwork

We’ve already touched on the importance of establishing clear expectations and goals in the workplace, but part of setting goals is making sure they’re measurable. Evaluating teamwork and providing constructive feedback is a key part of managing a team and leading it to success. Here are some simple ways to measure and evaluate teamwork.

Defining metrics for success

Before you can provide effective feedback, you need to clearly define how your team's success will be measured. There are a number of different success metrics you can use, so it’s important to choose the right one to suit your team’s goals. 

Some metrics you may consider include: 

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)

  • Return on investment (ROI)

  • Leads, conversions and bounce rates

  • Net promoter score (NPS) and more

When it comes to defining measurements for success, it might be tempting to include a wide range of different metrics, but this can cause more confusion than it’s worth. Instead, keep your list concise and focus on the important points.

Tracking progress and performance

Tracking progress and performance can be a great motivational tool for teams. It allows you to see your achievements so far, while tracking how close you are to achieving your goals. In terms of teamwork skills, tracking progress and performance can also allow you to gauge whether a team member has made improvements within their unique skill set. On the flip side, tracking can help to identify any potential shortfalls that need to be addressed, and provide the basis for performance feedback.

Conducting team evaluations and feedback sessions

Offering regular evaluations and feedback is essential for improving a team's performance. Feedback sessions are a great opportunity to recognise the team’s achievements and celebrate their successes, while also identifying areas for potential improvements. Just make sure your feedback is specific and constructive, so team members can take it on board. Even providing an example of good teamwork that’s been effective compared to an example that needs work can help your team to better digest your feedback.

Whether your team is in the office or working remotely, there’s more to effective teamwork than just cooperation. Building a successful team requires effective communication, trust, motivation, constructive feedback and a workplace culture that fosters creativity and innovation. Teamwork takes nurturing – but the results when you get it right are more than worth it. 

FAQs

What are some common mistakes to avoid when working in a team?

Team settings don’t come without their fair share of challenges, but understanding common mistakes can help you to avoid them. Here are just some of the hurdles that teams often encounter:

  • Lack of clear goals and expectations

  • Poor communication

  • Lack of trust

  • Unhealthy competition

  • Lack of feedback

  • Minimal recognition

How can I improve my active listening skills in a team setting?

Improving your active listening skills takes time and effort – here are some tried and true ways to become a better listener:

  • Repetition: try repeating what the other person has said back to them. This can help you process the message and reassure them that they’re being heard.

  • Consider non-verbal cues: a big part of active listening involves paying attention to the speaker's non-verbal cues. This can provide helpful context to what they’re saying. It’s also worth being mindful of your own non-verbal cues. Making eye contact, nodding and holding an attentive posture all help the other person know that you’re really paying attention to them. 

  • Ask open-ended questions: asking plenty of open-ended questions allows the speaker to clarify what they’ve said and can also help you get to the heart of the issue, so no important details are missed. 

  • Avoid distractions: sometimes it can be difficult to provide 100% of your attention to someone when you’re on the job, but minimising distractions will help you to focus on the conversation at hand.

How do you handle conflicts within a team?

Effective conflict resolution is a key aspect of building a successful team. When handling conflict, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible with the people involved. Make sure to use your active-listening and problem-solving skills to find a solution to the issue.

What are some ways to delegate tasks effectively in a team?

There are several approaches to delegating tasks in a team. First, it’s important to recognise the different skills that each team member brings to the team. From there, you can match the tasks to each person based on their skillset. Be sure to communicate the task and your expectations clearly so there’s no room for confusion, and encourage the team member to ask questions so you can provide feedback along the way.

How can I build trust and rapport with my teammates?

Building trust and rapport is the basis for meaningful relationships with your teammates. Establishing rapport with your colleagues requires you to draw on several different teamwork skills, including practising active listening, using engaged body language, having empathy and asking open-ended questions. Focus on being authentic and transparent, to build trust with your coworkers.

How do you establish a team culture of accountability and ownership?

Establishing a culture of accountability and ownership involves developing clear expectations, providing feedback and acknowledging achievements. When people are held accountable for their actions and work, they’re often more inclined to perform at a higher level. Plus, when team members receive recognition for their work, it can act as a powerful source of motivation.

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