Teamwork: Examples and tips for improving your skills

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” as the old adage goes, and the truth of this statement is in the numbers. Teams that feel connected and collaborate see higher profitability than teams that don’t, with effective communication generating 4.5 times higher talent retention. According to the same report, 97% of workers and employers see a lack of team alignment as a major influence on the success of a task or project.

Teamwork is an incredibly important indicator of the success of any business. It is also an important factor in the satisfaction of employees, and it is not hard to see why. When you are trapped on a bad team, you face the constant frustration of feeling as if your own team is working against your goals. Conversely, when you are on a great team, you enjoy the support of your peers and the invigoration of shared goals.

Every team is comprised of individuals. Those individuals have to know how to work together productively, which is why when interviewing new hires, many managers spend a large portion of the interview focused on whether or not someone possesses and demonstrates teamwork skills.

In this guide, we’ll dive into what teamwork skills are, examples of what they look like in the workplace, and tips for improving your own teamwork capabilities.

What are teamwork skills?

Teamwork skills refer to the qualities, characteristics, and abilities that contribute to positive team collaboration. People with a high level of teamwork skills can work with others on projects to achieve mutual goals. Those with a low level of teamwork skills will often create conflict, leading to lowered productivity.

While we often associate outgoing, friendly people with possessing a high level of teamwork skills, the reality is that teamwork skills reach much further than simply being bubbly or well-liked. A high-functioning team will need a variety of personalities and viewpoints. The goal is to ensure that everyone on the team is contributing toward a shared vision.

To understand the scope of teamwork skills, take a look at common examples of teamwork skills in the workplace.

Examples of teamwork skills

When you work on a team, it is important to be able to not just get along with others but to effectively collaborate with the group. Teams that succeed are those that have individuals possessing a variety of teamwork skills. The best teams are those with a diverse group of individuals as certain people will hold specific teamwork skills in greater abundance than others. As you think about your own teamwork skills, consider the following invaluable skills for any team.

Communication

At the core of teamwork is communication. Communication involves both listening and sharing. On a team, it is imperative that everyone has a voice at the table and that important information is communicated clearly. In fact, one of the fastest ways to derail a team’s progress is by communicating poorly.

Tolerance and respect

When working on a team, there will undoubtedly be viewpoints and ideas that you disagree with. However, in order for a team to continue to achieve goals, it is important to practice tolerance and respect. Even when you disagree with others, treating them with respect and being open to new viewpoints will go a long way in contributing to a positive team environment.

Decisiveness

When working on a team, the goal is to allow everyone to contribute ideas and help make decisions. However, when no one on a team is decisive, projects can be delayed and deadlines missed. Being able to make decisions while still valuing the input of others is a critical teamwork skill.

Conflict resolution

When you gather a group of employees together, conflicts will arise. The key is to be able to channel conflict into a positive form of collaboration. Resolving conflict on a high note can help ensure that everyone continues to bring their ideas to the table, even if they conflict with others.

Persuasion

Aligning an entire team of individuals toward a single goal can be a difficult task. That is why one of the most valuable teamwork skills to have is the ability to persuade others of an idea. For many, this is done through influence and clear communication.

Planning

In order for a team to move projects forward, team members need to be able to organize and plan ahead. Goals and deadlines need to be set. Individuals need to build their own timelines, and project check-ins must occur.

Problem solving

One of the number one tasks a team will face is the ability to solve a problem. When individuals on the team have strong problem-solving skills, the entire team will benefit. Bringing up creative solutions, thinking through complex issues, and presenting ideas in a digestible manner will all help contribute to a positive, successful team environment.

How to demonstrate you are a team player

With the high value of teamwork skills, most employers focus on hiring individuals they believe will work well in team settings. Even if a position includes a large amount of independent work, the reality is that any employee is still a part of the organizational team as a whole.

When you are applying for a new job, it is important to demonstrate your teamwork skills. There are two key ways you can do this:

  • Via your resume: When writing your resume, be sure to include keywords that showcase your teamwork skills. For example, one of your job description bullet points might read “Collaborated with 12 project managers to help increase customer engagement with our app by 50%.” This is a great way to showcase teamwork skills backed by data. Other teamwork keywords include “communicated,” “led,” “influenced,” and “planned.”
  • During your interview: One of the best opportunities for sharing your teamwork skills is during the interview process. Many questions you will be asked are geared toward discovering how well you work with others. Make sure to use this opportunity to share situations where your teamwork skills contributed to a positive team environment and helped the company meet goals.

How to improve your teamwork skills

Some people seem to naturally find it easier to work on teams than others. However, anyone can improve their teamwork skills through careful introspection and practice. If you want to improve your own teamwork skills, try the following:

  • Listen more, talk less: Being part of a team means leaving room at the table for everyone. If you find yourself dominating team meetings, it might be time to practice your listening skills. Make sure to engage in active listening by paying careful attention to what others are saying. Repeat back ideas to ensure that you understood other team members clearly.
  • Be open-minded: Ask questions and show an interest in your teammates’ contributions rather than believing your ideas are always best. Having an open mind will allow those with different views from you to share with the team. Even if you disagree, take the time to consider opposing viewpoints.
  • Show genuine interest: While your team might have important business goals to achieve, make sure you take the time to get to know your teammates beyond simply project data points. Show an interest in other people’s lives and always remember to treat others with respect.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up: In some cases, you might not be the person who needs to listen more. If you find yourself always holding your tongue for fear of introducing an idea others won’t agree with or creating conflict, practice contributing more often. The best teams are those with a diverse set of viewpoints. Step outside your comfort zone and share your own ideas with the team.

Ultimately, the ability to work well in a team, via a combination of hard skills and soft skills, is one of the building blocks of a successful career.