Let’s be real: not everyone at work can be a team player by default.
Perhaps you have employees who’ve flown solo for most of their careers. Maybe they’ve only worked with smaller teams and are struggling with the transition into a bigger group.
Either way, getting your team on the same page might feel like an uphill battle.
The good news? Effective teamwork skills can totally be taught and mastered with some practice.
Learning to work better together means focusing on specific tasks that result in better teamwork over time. In this guide, we’ll cover those skills in detail.
7 effective teamwork skills to perfect
Remember, when we’re talking about collaboration skills, we’re talking about actions that can be repeated and improved with practice.
And if your current team is having trouble getting along, don’t panic! The process of coming together takes time but it can be done.
Below is a breakdown of seven effective teamwork skills to emphasize for teams of all shapes and sizes.
1. Communication skills
Arguably the most important skill for workers today, communication skills are the foundation of a happy, productive team. (More on productivity metrics here.)
Day-to-day tasks. Employee feedback. Sharing team knowledge. The list goes on and on.
Workers today are constantly communicating in some way, shape, or form. Practicing and repeating communication is especially important for remote and distributed teams who don’t have a chance to see each other face-to-face.
So, how do you encourage your team to become better communicators? For starters, make a point to practice a variety of different meeting types on a regular basis. Rather than just a free-for-all meeting once a week where people talk at random, consider how you can switch it up with a combination of the following:
- Daily stand-up meetings and progress reports where employees detail what they’re working on
- Check-in messages and chats among team members throughout the day
- Virtual meetings in lieu of in-person sit-downs
- One-on-one meetings with department managers and employees
Different types of meetings not only engage your employees but provide everyone a chance to have their voices heard.
Here are a few employee engagement apps to keep everyone in sync.
Anything you can do to make it easier for your employees to communicate back and forth is a plus. A dedicated communication platform like RingCentral can do exactly that.
For example, software such as RingCentral Video allows your team to have no-hassle video meetings in an instant. Coupled with team messaging features, it gives you ample opportunities to check in with your team and talk at any time based on your schedule:
Bear in mind that teams are more productive and in control when they actually talk about communication expectations such as:
- How long meetings should be
- How much response time between messages or questions is acceptable
- How often team members should check in with each other
Smooth meetings take time to master, but practice makes perfect. (And having the right video conferencing software definitely helps.)
2. Presentation skills
Let’s say you’re tasked with running a meeting or presenting important information to your team (think: a progress report or sales territory plan).
The mere idea might make you break out into a cold sweat. That said, becoming a better presenter that’s more comfortable talking to others starts with being prepared.
This rings true whether we’re talking about a formal presentation or an off-the-cuff meeting, by the way. Strong presentation skills ensure that your points make sense and are remembered by your coworkers. Doing so goes hand in hand with practicing communication skills.
Here are some key tasks that relate to running effective meetings to try:
- Coming up with an agenda and ensuring that your team has the materials they need before you get started
- Establishing ground rules for how long your presentations will be
- Encouraging questions and involvement from your coworkers so they’re engaged with what you’re saying
Given that the average worker today is so busy, thoughtful and impactful presentations are much appreciated by your team. Once you get your first few meetings out of the way, you can reflect on ways to make them run more smoothly in the future.
3. Decision-making skills
Thinking on your feet can be tough if you’re in a high-pressure work environment.
However, consider that slow decision-making can cause bottlenecks and hold up the rest of your team. For example, there might be a document that needs your approval before it can be released to everyone else. The longer that document sits on your desk, the more your coworkers are forced to wait.
If you consider yourself to be indecisive, try rethinking the way you prioritize your tasks at work. Tools such as an Eisenhower Matrix highlight how workers should handle their to-do list. Having a decision-making process makes it easier to manage your schedule and acknowledge what needs to be done, like, now.
But building decision-making skills doesn’t mean just being a decisive person—it also means being able to collaborate effectively in the workplace.
Learn how to build a collaboration hub for your team.
Food for thought: nearly three-quarters of workers prefer a collaborative workplace where everyone has a hand in decision-making versus just a single boss or manager:
This again speaks to the importance of strong communication. In fact, having a good communication tool will help you with pretty much all the effective teamwork skills we talk about here.
4. Conflict resolution skills
If you’ve ever dealt with workplace drama, you know that real-life conflict isn’t nearly as fun as it looks on your favorite TV show.
The reality? Disagreements are bound to happen at work. From differing opinions to personalities that clash, it’s best to foresee such challenges and accept them head-on rather than pretend they don’t exist.
So, what should you do when an argument arises?
In the case of conflict, practice “I” statements (think: “I feel like my assigned role for this project is beyond my skill set…”) to defuse tension and avoid accusations toward others. Also, try to stress at work that workplace decisions shouldn’t be taken personally.
Another key way to avoid animosity in the first place is by encouraging your coworkers to get to know each other beyond the office. Setting aside time for team-building activities and empathy exercises can lead to a stronger sense of trust and friendship at work.
5. Listening and feedback skills
Listening and feedback skills go hand in hand and are likewise some of the most important teamwork skills to develop.
In fact, employees that feel heard and recognized are 4.6x more likely to do their best work.
The problem? Only 26% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive from managers and coworkers actually helps them do better work.
So, how can employees do better when it comes to both listening?
Having frequent meetings and opportunities to talk is a good start to encourage both giving and receiving feedback. Building an empathetic culture through those conversations means giving everyone on your team an opportunity to speak their mind in a way that’s transparent and safe.
Also, give your coworkers your undivided attention when they speak and also watch for nonverbal cues. Coupled with the tips above, coworkers tend to open up more over time as they get to know you better.
6. Rapport-building skills
Making friends at work isn’t just something that you should do “just because.”
Building rapport with your team signals that you’re a reliable resource and someone than people can turn to. If you’re looking to advance your career and become a collaborative leader at work, doing so benefits both yourself and your coworkers.
Of course, not everyone is born with a magnetic personality and endless charisma. That’s why the best way to build rapport with your team is by offering to help your coworkers out. Even if it’s just a quick check-in or an offer to assist with a small task, you might be surprised at how your help is appreciated.
To quote Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People: “To be interesting, be interested.” By going out of your way for your coworkers and showing interest in their lives, you foster a culture where they’re more likely to return the favor. In short, a win-win for your whole team.
7. Organizational skills
You and your coworkers probably have a ton on your to-do lists.
Between meetings, deadlines, and day-to-day tasks, there’s a lot to juggle. Developing organizational skills not only ensures that you get your work done, but you don’t incidentally let down your coworkers or mess with their schedules when work piles up.
Think about how no-showing a meeting or ghosting an important deadline could cause a butterfly effect of stress on your team. Not what you want, right?
Luckily, there are tons of tools out there that can help you wrangle some of that chaos. For example, RingCentral’s Google Calendar add-on allows you to always have a pulse on your schedule as well as your coworkers’ schedules. With your meetings and tasks front and center in your inbox, you’re much less likely to miss ‘em.
Have you mastered the most important teamwork skills?
Remember, teamwork skills are something that you and your coworkers can practice and improve over time.
That’s why developing effective teamwork skills should be a priority for any workplace.
By doing so, you set your team up to operate like a well-oiled machine that’s happier and more productive for the long term together.