08 June 2012

8 Steps to Improve Teamwork Skills

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
Helen Keller 

"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."
Andrew Carnegie

"The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side."
Margaret Carty 

Teamwork is a critical skill that you as a person will need to learn. Teamwork is a highly regarded ability by many people - especially by employers. 

If a person has good team working qualities it helps to build relationships with others. The funny thing is, some of these tips don't only have to be applied for when working in a team, but can also be used for when communicating with people on a day-to-day basis. 
Hope you enjoy. :)

1. Listening

Teamwork means working with others, so putting only your ideas forward and not listening to others, is not teamwork. You will need to take the time to listen to other people. Having other peoples input and not just your owns is important for making the best decisions, and for the team to respect each other. 

Other team-members may be able to spot flaws in your idea, which will mean improvements can be made. You can also discuss their ideas, looking at the pros and cons. Listening is an essential skill that you will HAVE to learn if you want to improve your teamwork skills.

2. Sharing

Whilst listening to other peoples thoughts and ideas is essential, if no one is willing to share their ideas with each other, the team wont get very far. 
People will have to be willing to share an idea, don't leave it to everybody else, make sure you have some input. It will not only give you more confidence within the team but can also help to encourage others to put forward their ideas. 

Don't hold back because you want the credit for yourself and you don't want others to steal the limelight, it's not the end of the world. Just be more laid back about it and care more about helping the team out, not just yourself.

3. Communication

For a team to work effectively and for team working skills to be made manifest, communication MUST take place, whether we like it or not. Not just communication, but effective communication. It's no good talking about the weather when you need to be dealing with the situation at hand, although it's good you have the confidence to talk. :)

Teams come up against problems and obstacles, but without effective communication how will a team overcome these? - it simply can't. So try to communicate. 
If you have trouble communicating effectively, then maybe you should read a previous post of mine: 12 ways to develop communication skills.

4. Don't let sore relationships affect your input

When working with others, it's not uncommon for people to not get along with each other. Maybe something outside of the team has happened between these people, maybe you just don't get along, however, don't let this put a downer on your input team. 

When you let sore relationships get in the way of making the correct decisions, or you refuse to help the team because of this, you're only hurting the team. Not only that but people will lose respect for you if you can't be mature enough to put it behind you.

Biased decisions can be made and mistakes which could have been avoided are instead, driven straight into. If you want, you can read a previous post of mine: How to make an unbiased decision.

5. Willingness to accept

A good team member will be able to have all of the other qualities on this list, as-well as having the willingness to accept team decisions and roads of development. 

It can be very easy to not run with an idea that was chosen over yours, but having the ability to do so will allow the group to make better progress. Believe it or not, it's also good for keeping team morale up, as things run a lot smoother when all team members are willing to accept and participate in an idea 100%. 
It's no good to have somebody on a team who hinders rather than helps.

6. Support

A good team that works together shouldn't just be a group of individuals working together, but should in a sense form an individual as a whole, made from all of the individual team members. 

Different individuals of the team will have different personalities and characteristics, meaning different levels of encouragement and support will be needed. Being able to recognise when somebody needs encouragement or support is a skill that will come over time, but is great for team morale. It also allows you to become closer to that person or people, showing that you care what is happening to them, further tightening the team together.  

7. Patience

As discussed in previous points, working in a team will require you to work with different individuals. Different individuals will have different personalities, some will be loud and boisterous, others will be quiet and timid. As a member of a team, patience will be needed on your behalf. If you were to lose your patience and become angry at other team members, that could affect team relationships and make it awkward for the group as a whole. 

Patience will be needed for working with everybody; it takes time for a group to find its footing and can take even longer for a team to work and gel together nicely.

8. Hard work

It's great if a team can listen to one another, it's great if a team can share ideas with each other, it's great if a team can communicate effectively, but without hard work - what's the point. 

Hard work is where the ideas presented are put into practice and are tackled head-on. Hard work is great for getting a team to gel together and great for encouraging other team members to do the same. 
I have written an earlier blog post about the benefits of hard work for you to read, if you're interested that is. :)
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