What are teamwork skills?
Working well in a team means:
- Working with a group of people to achieve a shared goal or outcome in an effective way
- Listening to other members of the team
- Taking everyone’s ideas on board, not just your own
- Working for the good of the group as a whole
- Having a say and sharing responsibility
A successful team is one where everyone’s unique skills and strengths help the team achieve a shared goal in the most effective way.
If you have good people skills you’ll make a good team player, and skills like communication and having a positive attitude make a team great.
Why are teamwork skills important?
Teamwork is vital if you want to work well with colleagues and teammates. You will probably have to work as part of a team in many areas of life; from class projects to planning a birthday party.
The better you work with others, the more successful your team will be in achieving their goals. Employees often need to collaborate or work with others to complete tasks and projects – having teamwork skills and experience will make it a much better experience.
Even if you work well on your own, using key life skills like self management, being a team player is a valued skill for most jobs.
Teamwork skills in school and education
The obvious way to enhance your teamwork skills is to be part of a team! There are lots of opportunities to do this in school and education. You could work on a class project in pairs or as a group. You could join a school sports team, orchestra or drama production. You could participate in a school-wide charity event and encourage friends and family to contribute and take part too.
Building teamwork skills in school will help you:
- Boost your confidence in contributing ideas to a project
- Listen to others and take their ideas on board
- Play an active part in creating a positive energy and atmosphere during the project
- Support any fellow students who need extra support, and take instruction well from team leaders
- Take responsibility for your tasks in a project
Teamwork skills in work
Most forms of work with more than one employee involve you working as a team. Team working is a bit more complicated than just being in a group of people getting things done. The difference between a good and a bad team is how well they work together.
Your team work skills can help you at work in all sorts of ways. Perhaps you’re working as a team on a construction project where thinking about the health and safety of yourself and your team mates is vital. Maybe you need to pull together as a team to create a monthly report for a client to a tight deadline. Team work also helps gets things done when you’re planning a birthday party for someone you work with!
Having teamwork skills will make it a much better experience for everyone, whether you are working long hours or trying to choose which cake to buy.
You’ve probably worked as part of a team in the past, so try to think about what went well and what didn’t (you can use the STARRS method to do this).
Building teamwork skills at work will help you:
- Achieve the desired results for a project in a quick and positive way
- Improve your communication skills, e.g. listening, taking instruction and offering support and ideas
Good team working skills will give you more chances to move forward in your career, too. People can see you as someone with a positive attitude who thinks the company’s goals are important. An attitude like this can help you get more opportunities, responsibility, training and promotions over time.
How to build and improve teamwork skills
A great way to build your team work skills is to volunteer for any team projects and say to yourself “we can do this together.”
Ways to develop teamwork skills:
Create a project
Find opportunities to work in a group. Then make sure you contribute to the group and help others to get involved.
Join a local group
Lots of groups run in local areas for all kinds of interests including conservation, politics, special interests and team sports. Getting involved in a group is a great way to build your teamwork skills.
Understand how to work in a team
Communication, planning, problem solving and negotiating are some of the skills you will need to develop. Work on these skills and your teamwork skills will improve too!
Here are some great resources to help you be a good team player and build your teamwork skills:
- What employers think good teamwork looks like
- The 4 stages of teamwork
- Teamwork skills – being an effective group member
- 13 tips to build team working skills
- Take the teamwork quiz from Kent University
Here are some areas to work on when you’re building your teamwork skills:
- Do you show a positive attitude instead of seeing the negative side of the task involved?
- Do you support any team members who are struggling with something you can help with?
- If there is a problem with the project, do you try to use your communication skills in a friendly and diplomatic way?
- Do you use your problem solving skills to find and share insights that might help the team overcome a problem?
- During group meetings do you listen to other people’s ideas and try to avoid talking over them?
- If problems come up or you don’t know something, do you share that with the team so that you can learn something new and help the project get done faster?
Demonstrating teamwork skills
Creating a good CV and cover letter
Your CV is the first place where you can show a future employer your teamwork skills. Record the teams you are involved in from work or personal situations. Summarise how you have contributed to these teams and helped them meet their goals.
If you are writing a cover letter, think about how you can show team spirit when talking about your achievements and experiences in working as a team. For example, you can use phrases like “working as part of a team” or “I helped a team to” if you helped to contribute to a successful project but didn’t do all the work yourself.
Here is an example achievement that shows you have team spirit:
“Working as part of a team, I help to re-organise the food section of a retail store to create a more comfortable shopping experience for customers.”
Demonstrating your teamwork skills in a job interview can be tricky. You’re often on your own in an interview, and have to rely on giving examples of your experience to show an employer you’re good at working with others.
If you have an assessment centre or group interview, that’s a great chance to let your team-work skills shine.
As always remember the STARRS method – it’s an expansion on the popular STARR method by one of our own Youth Ambassadors. It helps you think about what went well in a past situation and what you would do better next time.
Teamwork is a life skill. You can grow it over time.
There are so many chances in life to do something as part of a group, both inside and outside of work/education.
Think about the last time you worked as a team. Which teamwork skills do you think you used well? Which do you think you could work on next time a group project comes up?
Pick a time you worked as a team to achieve something. How would you talk about it to an employer? Write a sentence or two about the experience and describe how you showed your skills as a team player. This will help you be prepared in job interviews – and will remind you what you’ve already achieved in life.
Try asking a friend, teacher, or family member how well they think you have worked as part of a team project they know about and if they have any pointers to help you improve.
Activity - test yourself!
See if you can think about the questions below. It’s useful to you to come up with actual examples. It’s especially useful to come up with examples from your own life and work experience.
- Why are teamwork skills important to an employer?
- How could you develop your teamwork skills? Name an example.
- How could you demonstrate good teamwork skills? Name an example.