Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: How to Improve Teamwork Skills at Work

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Teamwork is one of the most important soft skills to master in the workplace. Whether you’re an apprentice gaining your first experiences of the world of work, or a seasoned professional looking to develop your career, taking the time to build your teamworking skills will always be time well spent.

In this blog, we’ll look at why teamwork is so important, and share our top tips to improve your teamwork skills.

The Importance of Teamwork in the Workplace

So, why is teamwork important in the workplace? It’s logical to assume that business leaders have economic incentives to promote teamwork. It’s simple: teamwork increases productivity and makes work more efficient.

There are endless advantages for employees too. Developing strong working relationships and collaborating with your colleagues helps to generate new ideas, solve problems, and creates opportunities for learning and development, which is invaluable at any stage of your career.

At the heart of things, effective teamwork makes your job easier, more interesting, and more enjoyable.

Teamwork can also be useful for career advancement. When you work closely with other people, you’ll have the chance to demonstrate your abilities, show your value, and be recognised for your contributions. You’ll also get to know different areas of the business and build your experience, learning specialist skills from more senior members of the team. This can be great for helping you explore your interests and plan for your future career.

How to Develop Teamwork Skills

Teamwork is not a single ability, but a rich skillset that combines lots of different talents. When you break it down, teamworking skills are simply techniques you can use to work effectively with other people.

What Makes Good Teamwork?

By building your awareness of the different skills that contribute to effective teamwork, you can develop them in yourself. So what are the characteristics of good teamwork? You might want to think about the following ideas:

  • Communication Skills: These include listening effectively to others, sharing your ideas, and agreeing a common goal with clear actions.
  • Organisational Skills: These are especially important when working remotely, but also apply to the office. Things like keeping shared filing systems updated, managing your time effectively, booking team meetings, and sharing lists of actions can make or break a team project.
  • Project Management Skills: This includes setting realistic goals, breaking down big tasks into manageable chunks, and solving problems as they come up.
  • Leadership Skills: You don’t have to be a manager to take on a leadership role for a team project. Pitching ideas, taking ownership of tasks, and helping identify a clear path to success can help keep a team project on track.

Belbin’s Teamwork Theory: Which Role Could You Play in Your Team?

If you’re a Baltic Apprentice, you might have already come across Belbin’s Team Roles during a SMART Classroom training session. For those who aren’t familiar, Dr Meredith Belbin is a prominent researcher in the field of management. Belbin’s work led to the identification of nine key roles that lead to strong and successful teamwork:

  • Resource Investigator: An outgoing, inquisitive person who explores opportunities and brings ideas back to the team.
  • Teamworker: A cooperative, diplomatic person who helps the team to gel.
  • Coordinator: Focuses on the team’s objectives and clarifies goals. Coordinators identify talent and delegate work effectively.
  • Plant: A free-thinking, creative person who generates ideas and solves difficult problems.
  • Monitor Evaluator: A logical, impartial person who weighs up various options and makes well-judged recommendations.
  • Specialist: Provides in-depth knowledge of their specialist subject for the benefit of the team.
  • Shaper: Keeps the team focused and moving towards their goal, provides drive and momentum and can help overcome obstacles.
  • Implementer: A practical and efficient person who plans a workable strategy and organises the work that needs to be done.
  • Completer Finisher: A conscientious person with an eye for detail. They come into their own towards the end of a project, helping to polish things up and check for errors.

Each team role is equally important, and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. According to Belbin, you don’t need nine people in every team – but for the strongest team performance, each of these nine roles should feature at some stage in every project.

It can be helpful in team settings to look at Belbin’s team roles, match them up with individuals in your team, see who you identify as, and check whether anyone’s missing. You might even be able to step in and fill this gap for a more harmonious teamworking experience!

Challenges of Teamwork

Of course, no team is perfect, and teamwork often comes with challenges. But don’t be tempted to write off an unsuccessful team project so quickly – learning how to overcome problems within a team is probably one of the most important soft skills you can learn, and will come with experience in the workplace.

As an apprentice, you aren’t expected to resolve complex team problems by yourself (if you’re ever in doubt, chat with your manager), but by practicing your problem solving, communication, and project management skills, you’ll be better equipped to overcome simple problems and keep the team running smoothly.

What Can You Learn from Teamwork?

When you work as a team, you grow as an individual. Not only can you develop your interpersonal skills and become more confident in the workplace, but team working is also an amazing way to develop your knowledge and skills – learning from others around you and getting first-hand experience of the kind of specialisms you might want to work towards in your future career.

Throughout your apprenticeship, you’ll build on your teamwork skills every day – whether you’re aware of it or not! However, taking the time to reflect on your collaboration skills and being mindful of your role in team projects can help you to develop professionally and reach your career goals much faster.

After all, teamwork makes the dream work.