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Essential Teamwork Skills

Essential Teamwork Skills

Written by Patrice Comrie

Teamwork makes the dream work. How many times have you heard that? Too many, I imagine. As cliché as it sounds, it is true. Picture living in a world without people. You would have to do every single task that you want to get done all by yourself. Life would simply be tedious and mundane. That’s no fun! 

At every stage of our lives, we need to work with others to accomplish common objectives in the most effective and efficient way. Whether it is getting chores done at home, working in a group at school to submit that final project, or meeting the office deadlines; let’s face it, the importance of teamwork is vital. As such, it is necessary to start building teamwork skills as early as possible. 

Now, I know working with people is easier said than done. Everyone has their own unique way of doing things, which is normally influenced by one’s culture, background, and individual experiences. How someone approaches a situation may be entirely different from how you would approach that same situation, and that’s okay. No ONE way is the right way. 

So, we all have to work with others at some point in time; call it a “necessary evil” if you may. How can we do this effectively? The answer is quite simple actually; we need to develop essential teamwork skills. 

Some Tips To Develop Essential Teamwork Skills

1. Communication

This must be, by far, the most important skill for effective teamwork. There are two types of communication: verbal and non-verbal. The latter, oftentimes tend to be overlooked, but we say so much more sometimes without even uttering a word.

We, therefore, must be able to convey ideas, responsibilities, and expectations in an open, clear, and respectful way, whether verbally or non-verbally. Not only that, but we also must be good listeners.

Like my grandmother would always say, “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason; it means you should listen more than you speak”. So, to be a good team player, we need to listen to each team member’s ideas and concerns. You’ll find that you learn more that way. Grandma was on to something. 

2. Time Management

The whole point of a team is to have several persons working, simultaneously, to attain a common goal within a set time. So naturally, teamwork and time management go hand in hand.

Are you prioritizing your tasks to ensure you have enough time left to complete the project or are you leaving everything until the last minute? Well, procrastinating only leads to missed deadlines or producing poor quality work, and an immense amount of stress while rushing to get things done.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a part of a team that delivers quality work on time. So, effective time management means you’ll need to plan, prioritize tasks, and trust that all team members are reliable enough to carry out delegated functions to meet deadlines. Time management allows teamwork and collaboration to happen smoothly. 

3. Critical Thinking

Let’s say your team is made up of seven people. I guarantee you that not all seven will have the same outlook. This is where critical thinking will come into play.

Team members will have to consider each other’s perspectives, examine all sides of the matter at hand and evaluate information gathered through research and past experiences to make an intellectual decision towards achieving the intended goal.

So, in essence, it’s weeding out the bad from the good to do what’s best for the team to be able to meet the target. 

4. Conflict Resolution

No team is conflict-free if we are being honest with ourselves here. Working with others will pose challenges, yes, but what matters most is how we move past the issues that may arise to help the team towards a solution. Well, firstly, we must keep calm and hear each other out.

Try to eliminate emotions and appreciate people for who they are, respecting their opinions. Then finally, negotiate with each other and compromise in order to settle the disputes. As Virginia Burden puts it, “cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there”. In other words, the sooner we overcome our individual differences the sooner the team will be able to achieve the set goal. 

Well, there you have it. These are some essential skills needed to become an effective team player. Whether you already possess some or all these skills, or maybe none at all; one thing I can tell you for sure is that having teamwork skills is completely necessary for every area of our lives and we should, therefore, take every opportunity to hone these skills. 

Patrice Comrie is a facilitator at Shiminly. 

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Chris is from Devon, in the south of England. He has been teaching English as a foreign language for over six years and has taught in China, the UK, Hungary and Spain. He has a background in Music and studied Composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Trinity Laban in London and at the University of York. After finishing his master’s at York, he travelled to China to teach and fell in love with it. He has been teaching ever since.

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