Would you consider yourself a lone wolf when it comes to projects and planning? Does the thought of collaborating with others increase your heart rate and make your palms sweaty?
Unless you’re pursuing a career as a novelist or truck driver, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to work alongside others. This is precisely why teamwork skills are a vital element in today’s workforce. Whether you’ve had a bad experience working in groups in the past or you simply feel that functioning on your own is more efficient, there will come a time when working in a group will not only be helpful but necessary.
Not only will this skillset serve you well in your future career but it’ll help you acquire the knowledge and training you’ll need to get there. Regardless of what program you’re enrolled in, teamwork skills will likely be incorporated in your schoolwork. So it’s time to stop avoiding working with others and leverage the opportunity to thrive in a group setting!
Why are teamwork skills so important, anyway?
“Unless you work completely solo, you will have co-workers, supervisors and/or direct-report employees,” explains Elizabeth Grimm, a librarian at the Rasmussen College Fort Myers campus. She adds that effective teamwork and collaboration not only helps with efficiently completing tasks but can also open your eyes to ideas or solutions you may never have considered.
Another benefit is that teamwork teaches you how to have interpersonal skills. Working with others to coordinate schedules, meet deadlines and make decisions will strengthen your relational interactions. Teamwork can also improve the outcome of a project because you’re able to draw upon each other’s unique strengths. The emotional support offered from group members is an added benefit.
What kinds of teamwork skills are employers seeking?
Our sources agree that an individual with excellent teamwork skills is an attractive candidate for most positions. Very rarely will you come across a job in which you will be working in complete isolation. You’ll likely be required to interact with colleagues in one way or another.
There are several skills that would fall under the umbrella of teamwork. Grimm explains that one of the most important one is communication. The ability to confidently conduct a face-to-face conversation is crucial, but employers also look for candidates with proper phone and email etiquette as well.
Other important teamwork skills include emotional intelligence, active listening, adaptability, collaboration, conflict resolution and compromise. You could have all of the knowledge and technical skills in the world, but not being willing and able to cooperate with your coworkers can be a red flag for an employer.
Where can I learn teamwork skills?
It’s never too early to start becoming an effective team member. If you’re a student, you’re in the perfect position to build your teamwork skills—in or out of the classroom! From completing homework assignments or planning presentations to playing a sport or organizing a party, a little collaboration can go a long way!
“Students preparing for future careers will find that skills honed in college can bolster teamwork attributes that are very much needed at places of employment,” says Hilary Wagner, librarian at the Rasmussen College New Port Richey/West Paco campus. She explains that students build a handful of teamwork skills such as written and verbal communication and networking. Students also gain experience cultivating diverse perspectives and learn how to advise, share and delegate with others.
If you’re not in school, that’s okay too! Start volunteering or begin planning a book club with your friends. Interacting with others in any setting will help you build your teamwork skills.
How can I improve my teamwork skills?
The answer is pretty simple—join a team! Whether it’s forming a study group for one of your classes or joining club or organization in your field of study, putting yourself in situations that force you to work with others will help you become more comfortable.
Having some experience under your belt can help you boost your hiring potential. Questions relating to working with others are often included in the interview process, so it’s helpful to have a few real-life scenarios on which you can focus. You’re not boasting by sharing your positive experiences—you’re simply highlighting your competency in this area.
There’s no better time than now …
Teamwork is important and the more experience you have, the better. Get started today by joining forces with others to accomplish a task or project. Whether or not you’ve worked with groups before, there’s always room to polish your teamwork skills.
Do you consider yourself a teamwork pro already? We want to know! Tell us how you've incorporated teamwork into a project.