Teamwork Skills: Definition, Types and Tips for Improvement

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 January 2023

Published 20 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

You need teamwork skills to be successful at work, regardless of your job title or industry. Working well with colleagues, management and clients will make your work environment enjoyable and help you complete tasks quickly and efficiently. Employers value employees who are team players as they contribute to the achievement of the organisation's goals. In this article, we define teamwork skills, determine why they are essential, look at examples of teamwork skills and provide tips for improving your teamwork skills.

Related: What is teamwork? Including definition and characteristics

What are teamwork skills?

Teamwork skills refer to a range of interrelated abilities that help you cooperate with others in different situations, meetings and projects in an organised manner and with empathy. Individuals who are mature and have people skills usually have good teamwork ability, since it allows them to work with team members to achieve the organisation's goals.

Why are teamwork skills important?

Most organisations have teams in every department and division, meaning that you will almost always work as part of a team regardless of your industry or job level. Working with team members in an empathetic and responsible manner helps you to achieve your career goals, enhance your CV and achieve the organisation's goals.

Effective teamwork also contributes to the team's success, morale and the retention of staff. Teamwork skills help you build rapport with colleagues and other stakeholders, which can lead to deeper relationships, new network connections and even new career opportunities. Teamwork also contributes to a harmonious office environment for teams to complete projects and goals.

Types of teamwork skills

Teamwork skills are soft skills that you can develop and improve gradually. Here are examples of the different types of teamwork skills:

Communication

Clear and efficient communication is an essential teamwork skill. Communication skills include verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Communication skills can be used in person, over the phone or via email. Effective communication does not depend on the medium of communication. Communication skills help you share your ideas, information and thoughts with your colleagues and other stakeholders effectively. Teams with exceptional communication skills have a culture of trust and transparency.

Related: 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)

Influencing skills

Team leaders need the ability to inspire their team members to achieve the team's objectives and goals. You can learn how to be persuasive and influence people by improving different teamwork skills. To influence team members, you need to build the team's trust in each other and connect to each team member to leverage their strengths.

Listening skills

It is easy to build rapport when you listen to what other people say. Listening to each other allows team members to understand each other better by promoting the sharing of thoughts, ideas and feelings. You can show that you listen by asking questions, showing concern and using nonverbal cues to demonstrate your understanding and care.

Problem-solving

Organisations establish teams to solve specific problems. Effective teamwork requires team members to have problem-solving skills whereby they consider an issue from many angles to identify unique and creative solutions to a problem.
Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Planning and organisational skills

A team must develop a plan that all team members understand, which allows the team to solve problems efficiently and effectively. Once the team agrees on a plan, the team members need to organise their tasks and set deadlines to coordinate their efforts to achieve a specific goal.

Decision-making

Decision-making can be a challenge when people disagree on the plan of action. Team members must put their self-interest aside to decide what is best for the team to achieve their goals. Involving team members in decision-making allows the team to consider the alternatives and select the best option for the entire team.

Conflict resolution

Most teams will experience conflict at some point. It is vital for team members to handle conflict and to deal with issues as they arise. Team members must act as mediators to ensure that the conflict does not escalate. Teams can improve conflict resolution by negotiating with each other to settle disputes and ensure everyone is happy with their decisions.

Reliability

Team members rely on each other in well-functioning teams. Team members must adhere to deadlines, fulfil their responsibilities to the desired standard and communicate about the challenges that may occur with each other, which requires a high level of reliability from each individual.

Respect each other

The first sign of respect is learning someone's name and pronunciation. You can respect your team members even when you dislike them or disagree with their views. You can do this by listening to them and showing that you do not take them for granted.

Tolerance

Team members need to tolerate each other by being open-minded and willing to learn from each other. They must embrace diversity by accepting people from different religions, minorities and ethnicities. To show tolerance, team members need to attempt to understand each other's background, beliefs and experiences. Tolerance in teams allows team members to capitalise on their differences in developing creative solutions to work challenges.
Related: Learning About Diversity and Inclusion: 10 Free Virtual Courses

Honesty

Team members can enhance transparency and trust within the team by being honest with each other. For example, if a team member did not complete a task on time or to the required standard, then that team member must be honest in communicating this to other team members. Honesty within a team context can improve the team's chances to achieve their goals and be more productive in the long run.

Empathy

Empathy is your ability to relate to the experiences, thoughts and emotions of your team members. Having empathy for your team members allows you to improve your understanding of their feelings and motivations. It helps to listen to your team members with empathy to communicate with them effectively. Empathy shows respect and care, which can have a positive impact on the team's morale and productivity.

Collaboration

For effective collaboration, team members need to share ideas and support each other to enhance cooperation. Increased collaboration not only contributes to achieving the team's goals but also increases employee satisfaction, encourages innovation and improves the team's efficiency. When employees learn from each other by pooling their strengths and talents, it expands their skill sets and improves their knowledge. Collaboration also enhances inter-departmental relationships. New employees learn quicker when they are part of a collaborative team.

Awareness

To work effectively in a team, team members need to hone their awareness of the team dynamic. For example, one team member may dominate meetings, preventing other team members from contributing to discussions. In such a case, the team leader needs to ensure that all team members can contribute. Team members must also be self-aware to realise when they are dominating meetings or acting in a manner that does not contribute to strong teamwork.

Related: How to demonstrate you're a team player on your CV

Tips to improve your teamwork skills

Here are tips you can follow to improve your teamwork skills:

  • Ask for and give constructive feedback. Constructive feedback can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know your weaknesses, you can develop a plan of action to improve your areas of shortcomings.

  • Foster mutual trust. Letting your team members know that you trust them and are counting on them will foster mutual trust.

  • Resolve conflict quickly. Conflict can harm a team's productivity and morale. It is best to detect and resolve disputes rapidly to preserve team spirit and motivation.

  • Be a team player. If the team is successful, all its team members are successful. Give credit when it is due and celebrate the team's wins. If challenges occur, overcome them as a team.

  • Define separate responsibilities and roles. Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of team members will help each team member know what their deliverables are. Clear deliverables help team members focus and may motivate them to perform well.

  • Learn from others with strong teamwork skills. Learning from other teams is an effective way to improve your skills. When you see examples of excellent teamwork in other teams, note their work ethic and consider how you can implement similar patterns in your team.

  • Define the goals for the team. The team leader must define the goals of the team. If the team members know the collective goals and their contributions towards these goals, it will be easier for them to plan their work and determine the impact of their actions on the achievement of the team's objectives.

  • Conduct frequent meetings. Teams need to meet often to discuss their progress, challenges and future actions. Regular meetings ensure that the team stays on track with their deliverables. Ensure that meetings have a specific agenda to focus the discussions on current issues.

  • Have an office space that is conducive to teamwork. You need to make sure that your team's physical office space meets their needs and encourages collaboration. Be sure to have conferencing rooms with remote conferencing facilities, ergonomic desks where they can sit and work effectively and also information spaces where team members can collaborate.

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