Teamwork is an essential skill for jobs of the 21st Century. Workforces are increasingly needing to work in tight-knit teams with positive group dynamics to solve complex problems that can’t be solved in isolation.
To demonstrate your teamwork skills on a resume or in an interview, present real-life experiences of times you have worked well in a team using the following skills. (You might also want to consider using the STAR method to answer interview questions about teamwork).
If I were asked to describe what teamwork looks like, I would describe it as ‘collaborative’.
Collaboration means that people in a group are putting their brains together to get the job done. A collaborative group don’t work as individuals on separate tasks only to come together at the end. Instead, the group work in unison on tasks.
By working collaboratively rather than as individuals within a group, people can share ideas and thoughts, allowing you to create a better product than you would have on your own.
Effective delegation is an inherent feature of good teamwork. A functioning team will delegate tasks in ways that appear fair and are most efficient.
Not all delegation is good. A team leader who delegates tasks to team members who lack the skills or training for the task may be doing a disservice to the team.
But good delegation is inherent in a good team.
Good delegation may involve extensive consultation, knowing each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, and even negotiation to ensure all team members are happy with the delegated tasks and group roles.
See Also: Delegation Examples
2. Regular communication
Regular communication is essential for teams. Without it, team members will work in isolation and fail to make use of all the benefits of teamwork.
A good example communication in teamwork is to use apps like slack and discord to be able to chat about the job on a regular basis.
Checking-in with one another, asking each other for advice, and letting others know what you’re up to can help ensure everyone has shared understanding of the progress of the project and might give people the contextual information required in order to avoid mistakes, overlaps of workload, and potential clashes between projects.
Read More: List of Communication Skills
3. Providing encouragement to one another
Good teamwork means being encouraging. We can see this clearly when looking at highly effective sports teams.
If you look at football teams, they will constantly yelling supportive phrases to one another. They will pat one another on the back, help each other up when they fall, and so on.
Of course, in the workplace, a lot of this behavior would be unnecessary. However, support for one another can take the form of positive emails, offering of resources, and training up team members who need it.
4. Providing assistance and support to one another
While encouragement is a form of moral support, we can look at physical acts of support as well.
For example, a good team will work on sharing resources so they are distributed efficiently. This may mean that a team member will forego a resource because another team member will benefit from it more. This, in turn, will ensure the team progresses farther – even if your individual role might be curtailed somewhat.
5. Sharing knowledge and expertise
Often in the workplace, teams will be constructed to ensure there are different types and levels of expertise within the group.
For example, a team may have an expert in finances as well as an expert in engineering, allowing them to work together to make sure the project is both financially sound and mechanically useful!
As a team member moves toward leadership roles, they may focus more on sharing knowledge and expertise, recognizing that the best way to leverage their skills is to share them among the whole group.
6. Seeking out and incorporating feedback from one another
Good teams give, receive, and incorporate feedback among one another.
Ideally, if the team culture is strong, the team members will accept feedback without being overly defensive, recognizing it comes from a place of support and desire for everyone to be the best they can be.
One strategy you can use to incorporate feedback include having team members pair up and give 3 things that their teammate is doing well and 3 they can work on.
7. Managing conflicts professionally
Conflicts can happen even in the best teams. An example of good teamwork would be to professionally and soberly assess the conflict to find productive solutions.
For example, a team may have a conflict about what the team’s goal should be. To manage this conflict, there may be some need for compromise. This doesn’t necessarily mean ‘meeting half-way’, but actually finding out what each team member thinks is most important and seeing if we can find ways to incorporate those core values for each team member into the task.
8. Motivating team members
Intrinsic motivation refers to the sort of motivation that comes from within – people do the work out of passion and excitement, not because there’s a reward or punishment connected to it.
To achieve this, self-determination theory argues that teams should aim for a sense of competence (feeling like you’re doing the job well), relatedness (a sense you’re part of a community), and autonomy (feeling like you are in control of what you do).
Teamwork can also mean including people into your group and ensuring that they feel welcome, heard, and valued.
In one sense, inclusivity can mean the simple act of ensuring everyone who’s in the team feels included in decision-making, discussions in meetings, and so on.
In another sense, you could think of inclusivity in the sociological sense: inclusion of people from a diverse range of backgrounds (gender, race, etc.) in order to get a diversity of viewpoints that help to enhance the team overall.
10. Adapting to change
Good teams are adaptable. They know that new information needs to be addressed within the team in order to succeed.
For example, imagine you are a team of engineers building a new type of weather balloon. Part-way through the project, you get news that there is going to be a shortage of helium for the next 18 months due to supply chain issues.
A good team will come together and adapt to this situation – maybe they will pivot from creating a weather balloon to a drone instead, to hedge against the issue, while still achieving their goals.
11. Setting clear goals
Team goals are all about making sure everyone on the team knows what they’re aiming to achieve.
Goals allow team members to feel like they understand the overall mission and feel a sense of purpose.
It can also be helpful to have milestones to see if you’re on track for meeting your goals. Breaking down long-term goals into daily and weekly goals can help keep up motivation and give people a sense that the team is making progress.
See Also: List of Team Vision Statements
12. Accepting team decisions
Oftentimes, a team member will not necessarily think the team’s decision is the absolute best decision.
But if a team member feels they have been heard and respected, then they’re likely to accept that the team has chosen another path, and a good team member accepts that and still works hard within the team to meet the team goals.
13. Building trust
Trust within teams helps enormously to ensure goals are met.
In a trusting team, everyone has the implicit understanding that the people around them have good intentions and are not undermining the process.
It takes time to build trust. To help develop it, you can engage in team-building sessions and group games that break the ice and create a bond.
14. Providing regular updates
Another sign that you’re good at teamwork is evidence that you make sure your team members are updated on your progress regularly.
This is a subset of communication. Regularly updating people is one component of being good at communicating as a team.
Regular updates helps your team members know what you’re up to, gives them opportunities to provide feedback, and helps you to make sure you’re on track. So, regularly updating your team members is good for the team, but also good for you as an individual.
15. Mentoring newer team members
As you become more proficient at your tasks and establish yourself as a senior team member, your roles will change.
You’ll start spending more time mentoring newer team members because your knowledge and expertise will best be deployed in supporting others to do well, rather than doing all the work yourself.
Note that this teamwork example will depend upon who you are and what job you’re going for. If you apply for a job as an entry-level intern, you won’t be expected to have mentoring skills. So, you might not want to use this example every time – use it depending on the context.
16. Positive interdependence (accountability)
Positive interdependence refers to teams where individual and group goals are aligned.
In this type of group, team member finds individual benefit in being part of the group; and at the same time, the group as a whole benefits from each other individual member’s membership.
The result is that an individual is compelled to work hard because it is to the benefit of both self and group. If they do not work hard, they group suffers and they suffer, too.
When I was first taught this concept, it was in reference to “freeloaders”. Groups with positive interdependence don’t have freeloaders because each individual must work hard or else not only will they fail, but so will the group. No one can cover their work or make up the difference – everyone must work hard for the good of both the individual and the group.
17. Providing opportunities
Good groups provide opportunities to every team member. As a result, all team members will feel a greater sense of agency.
You may have a memory of a group in which you felt disempowered: there were no opportunities for you to contribute well or effect change.
But a good group will also have opportunities for all team members to have a go, exercise some power, have a real influence, and therefore feel greater intrinsic motivation.
Shared ownership refers to the idea that the group and its results belong to everyone. If there is shared ownership, then the whole group will likely feel more intrinsic motivation.
Take, for example, a group where all the team members are expected to work hard but only the group leader will get the benefits of the group’s successes. Likely, the team members will feel quite disillusioned.
But take the opposite view: if every team member shares in the final reward, then there’s a greater incentive for each team member to put in some work.
This is one reason why businesses might give employees performance bonuses or shares in the company: this connects their success to profits.
Good teamwork is all about thinking as a whole rather than as an individual. When demonstrating that you’re a great team player, you would want to focus on times when you have worked well with others toward a shared goal. Some of the best teamwork examples include collaboration, communication, inclusivity, shared ownership, and compromise for the common good.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]