There are many skills that we need to cultivate if we’re going to become good workers and good employees. Among these, few are quite as important as teamwork, which is incredibly important for almost all business settings. In fact, if there is one ‘buzz word’ that would land you a job in most applications it’s ‘teamwork’ (along with creative thinking, and organization).
Teamwork as a Skill
If you are going to do any job where you’re being employed there’s a good chance you’ll be working as part of a team – even if you’re not actually making contact with other people you will still be likely part of a team where the work is passed between you and you are required to forward documents on with changes made etc. Working as part of a team then means understanding other people so that you can quickly work out what they have meant in their part of the project and so work from it without treading on their toes, it means the ability to get on and not offend people which can cause arguments in the work place and thereby result in a bad atmosphere that’s not conducive to working, and it means being able to trust and respect people enough to get the job done without interfering.
At the end of the day, any organisation that is hiring you will have to work with you. Even if you have the best qualifications and experience in the world, if they can’t see themselves getting on with you – and if they don’t really like you (sorry) then they aren’t going to want to hire you.
Teamwork as an Asset
So you need teamwork as a skill in order to be able to get employment. But why is it so valuable to them? Other than the fact that they have to work with you… If you are the manager in an office, why is it so important to build the relationships between your staff and make sure that they can work well together?
There are many reasons for this. The first is simply that it enables you to get the job done much faster. As they say, two heads are better than one, and if you have lots of people working on the same project it will get finished much faster. You can also this way specialise – there are very few people who are equally as efficient in a whole range of fields – you have writers, you have marketers and you have artists. Each of these will excel in their field and so by giving each member one aspect of the task you can ensure that every facet of your project is done to a professional and perfect standard.
More important though is the way that teamwork brings a cocktail of ideas and opinions. At the time when working in a group this can feel annoying and as though you are sacrificing some of your good ideas because someone else doesn’t see it. However what you have to remember is that people are all different, and your project is likely going to be viewed by multiple people – some of whom will share the opinions of your colleagues. At the same time something that you can’t see might suddenly turn out to be a fantastic idea. It prevents you from becoming too set on your ideas, forces you to question yourself and brings a range of ideas preventing your project from becoming biased or narrow sighted.
Say each person has a moment of clarity and a breakthrough every 24 hours. If you have ten people working on a team, that’s ten times as many amazing ideas all in the same project. Even if some people contribute much less – and they only have a good idea every few days – that’s still more than just one person. There will be times working in a team when you think ‘wow, I wish I’d thought of that’.
At the same time you also have more of these moments of clarity because of the other people. When you bounce ideas off of each other they take shape and change and what started off as an abstract concept becomes a tangible reality. This then helps you to come to ideas together that you never would have before – or one person says something and it helps you to reach your breakthrough. In some cases one of you has a good idea and the other person takes it further… it is truly a great way to bounce ideas back and forth.
Achieving Good Teamwork
If you want to be good at working in a team this means you need to drop your ego and be open to the ideas of other people. At the same time you need to be able to genuinely listen to what other people have to say. Another tip is not to be afraid to throw ideas out there and to see how they are received as this will enable you to bounce ideas back and forth and let them grow – don’t be afraid to say even the most ridiculous things as sometimes merit can be found in them – but likewise you also need to be open to other people’s ideas and not shoot those down too quickly. Finally think in terms of a team – don’t try and get one over on your colleagues or drop them in trouble. Take the flack as a team and support each others’ careers.
If you want to develop a more tangible ‘skill’ then it is worth spending time on your ability to communicate – both in terms of your written and spoken language – and to look into leadership if that’s appropriate.
For employers and managers trying to inspire teamwork meanwhile, there are many team building courses you can send your staff on. They might sneer at first, but many of these have great merits. When employing staff, think about how they’d fit into your team and whether they’d get on with everyone there. Come down hard on those who aren’t team players and try to encourage your staff to become actual friends by giving them time to chat and relax in office hours and by easing the pressure and removing any culture of ‘blame’. Targets and things can make a workforce productive but can also create a competitive nature that destroys any team spirit. Organise social events outside of work and lastly lead by example – treat them as your friends and be a part of the team instead of an evil dictator.