Building teamwork skills for yourself and your staff.

Teamwork is a critical component of success for many jobs, across all industries. No matter what your job title, if teamwork is a part of the equation, it’s a skill you should work on fostering in yourself and supporting in others.  

In this issue of the Pulse, we look at ways you can develop your own teamwork skills, as well as support teamwork in the workplace.  

Improving on your own teamwork skills. 

No matter what kind of team you’re on – in the workplace, in your personal life – these skills are critically important: 

  • Communication skills – building your communication skills includes practicing better listening, being effective and clear in the language you use to convey your thoughts, and being fluent in the latest methods of communicating with your colleagues, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Zoom. 
  • Mindfulness – while there are always going to be aspects of teamwork you don’t like, such as difficult tasks or differences with teammates, being able to control your thoughts and focus on what is going well will aid you in building better relationships and getting the job done.   
  • Flexibility – no, not your yoga skills, but rather your ability to cope with change, adapt to new methods of doing things, and accommodate differences.  
  • Reliability – this may seem obvious, but not everyone comes across as reliable. Are you on time, responsive, and meeting your deadlines? Can others trust you not to flake out on responsibilities? This is all about self-awareness, taking accountability, and following through.  

Be a good team member.  

Each team structure is going to look a bit different, especially depending on where you are in that structure. Maybe you were an exceptional team player on a school sports team, but work life is a bit more complicated.  

Here are some good practices to employ: 

  • Understand your role on the team – understand your job description and responsibilities versus those of others, and where you fall in the team structure. Know what you and your coworkers each bring to the team.  
  • Show gratitude for your teammates – say thank you, acknowledge what you appreciate, and be someone your team members want to work with.  
  • Know your strengths – if you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you will better understand when to offer help and when to ask for it. Both actions are integral to good teamwork.  
  • Don’t argue over getting credit – there is no need to bicker or fight for credit. Show appreciation, shout out your teammates, and hope they do the same for you. Grappling for the spotlight will make you seem argumentative and ego-centric, even when you might deserve it. Likewise, don’t be quick to blame other people when things go wrong.  
  • Think with a team mindset – when it comes to work-related decisions, are you thinking about what is best for you, or what is best for the overall good of the team? 

Foster teamwork in the workplace. 

This is going to look different if you’re in a managerial or authority role, versus a subordinate role. If you’re the person in a leadership position, here are some ideas to foster better teamwork among your staff: 

  • Lead by example – demonstrate your hard work, dedication to the job, and commitment to the overall success and wellbeing of the team. Be a boss that inspires teamwork. Leaders’ attitudes are often infectious and can empower or deject staff.  
  • Plan team activities – occasionally organizing non-work-related activities can allow your team to bond better, without the pressure of the job. Games, meals, or outdoor activities are great examples of ways to connect.  
  • Establish good boundaries for your sake, and for the sake of everyone on the team.  
  • Make the ‘why’ clear – when establishing a rule or assigning a new task, make sure the purpose is clear, and not just “because I said so.” The latter will leave employees feeling unenthusiastic, but with the right ‘why’ in place, employees will be invigorated with a sense of purpose.  
  • Recognize wins and great work – whether this is a simple shout out, or a more tangible award, making your employees feel appreciated goes a long way in motivating a team.  
  • Offer a collaborative workspace – if possible, having a room or office dedicated to employee collaboration can be a great way to incite teamwork without disrupting other workplace procedures.  
  • Play to your employees’ strengths – teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% higher productivity. 

Why does this matter? 

Functional teamwork matters. In fact, poor teamwork can have serious consequences. For example, a recent study found that 86% of employees cite lack of collaboration for workplace failures. Likewise, 81% of workers would feel more grateful if they felt their boss was appreciative of their work.  

In conclusion… 

Teamwork is an incredibly important part of being a leader and an employee. There are simple skills, habits, and commitments you can make to be a better team player, that will go a long way in improving workplace relationships, job performance, and overall morale.