What Is Teamwork? (Plus Skills and Examples of Teamwork)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 November 2022 | Published 21 July 2021

Updated 5 November 2022

Published 21 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Workplaces can be highly collaborative spaces where people work with different teams. These can be informal brainstorming sessions, formal status meetings or organised team-building exercises. Knowing what skills can help you show teamwork in the workplace can help you develop as an individual and contribute as a strong team player. In this article, we discuss what the definition of teamwork is and show a few examples of teamwork to help you improve it.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Examples of teamwork

There are a few examples of teamwork in the workplace. Here are just a few ways you might leverage the benefits of teamwork:

Partners or small groups for specific tasks

Joining a team with one other individual can help attack very specific goals in an organisation. For example, you might partner a designer with a marketing specialist to pitch a new campaign. These individuals have unique roles but can achieve specific targets depending on the business needs. This type of teamwork helps people learn about other departments' workflows or simply to understand how others in similar roles might work.

Brainstorming sessions

Brainstorming is a dedicated time frame where members of a team generate as many ideas as possible. This act of teamwork can inspire confidence in colleagues when capturing every idea. It's important in brainstorming sessions to avoid editing, judgement and feedback and simply generate ideas.

Organised team building

Sometimes, managers might offer organised team-building activities that help target specific skills. They may relate these to professional goals or sample goals to practise openness, giving and receiving feedback and communication. Outside organisations might facilitate these so employees don't feel pressure or judgement from their managers.

Public feedback

Public feedback is a way that companies might encourage teamwork on a larger scale. This can include congratulating people publicly, sharing exceptional experiences or celebrating achievements. This type of teamwork can help motivate employees to connect with one another and complete their jobs effectively.

Why is teamwork important?

In almost every career, you can expect to work on a team with your colleagues at some point. This may be within your department or across departments, with close coworkers and with strangers. Working with teams helps you develop other soft skills like communication and collaboration. By using teamwork, you can grow your professional relationships and learn about potential growth opportunities within and outside of your company.

More than personal benefits, teamwork contributes to an overall positive work environment. When teams are actively listening to each other, communicating effectively and working towards a goal, individuals may feel more motivated to work and satisfied as they reach goals. Successful teamwork can produce innovative solutions as each person might bring original plans to meetings and this can inspire new ideas.

Related: 8 Types of Job Skills That Are Important for Career Success

Teamwork skills

Across most industries, strong teamwork requires certain skills for individuals and companies to achieve their goals. Applying these skills might look different for unique tasks, like team meetings or brainstorming sessions. Here are some skills you may want to develop as you show good teamwork in the workplace:

Communication

The ability to communicate clearly and efficiently is a critical teamwork skill. When working with others, be sure to share relevant thoughts, your unique ideas, key information and clarifying questions. It's better to communicate if anything is unclear so everyone understands the common goal, their roles and any other relevant information like timelines or budgets.

Related: 10 Helpful Tips for Communication Skills in the Workplace

Leadership

Leadership is taking responsibility for a group or project. When working in teams, it's important to feel comfortable in a leadership role as sometimes you might lead your group. This could mean coordinating meetings, determining priorities or making final decisions. Outstanding leaders can establish plans and solutions based on their team's input, ensuring they have all the information necessary to decide.

Related: 10 Types of Leadership Styles

Responsibility

Although teamwork requires a group striving to achieve a common goal, each member is individually responsible for their own tasks. Others in the group depend on you to fulfil your responsibilities while they complete theirs, so a sense of ownership is important. If all members share this same sense of individual and collective responsibility, the team might feel more motivated and proud to complete tasks.

Related: Top Transferrable Skills To Include in Your CV

Honesty

Honesty is crucial for building trust during teamwork. Being transparent at work might mean clearly stating any misunderstandings, working through conflicts or asking for additional time on your task. For your colleagues, this might mean suggesting improvements or identifying mistakes or needs in other individuals. If it can help the team achieve the goal, it's important to discuss them honestly even if it might be uncomfortable at first.

Active listening

Active listening is carefully listening to colleagues using verbal and nonverbal cues as well as paraphrasing what another says to ensure you hear everything. Similar to communication, active listening can help a team understand each other's individual needs and how they can best support each other. Active listening helps a team focus on one person as they share their ideas, thoughts or feelings. Asking questions can help the speaker communicate everything they intend the group to hear to inform the team's decision-making.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand how other people feel even if your experiences are different. Having empathy for your teammates can allow you to better understand their motives and feelings. More empathy improves interpersonal relationships.

Also, understanding how or why your colleagues work can help you make strategic decisions when defining roles on a team. For example, if someone is comfortable with data entry but anxious about public speaking, they might excel in managing the team spreadsheet rather than presenting to a group.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definition and Examples

How to improve teamwork in the workplace

There are several ways individuals and managers can improve teamwork in the workplace. Although many of the skills might take time to develop, practising the skills and learning some tips can help you show your commitment to teamwork in the workplace. Here are some details on how you might improve teamwork in the workplace:

1. Create an open environment

It's important that each member of the team can voice their opinions, concerns and ideas comfortably. Creating an open environment might include holding regular meetings where people can discuss anything about the team, projects or work environment. Open environments allow for people to share their thoughts confidently and can help the team come to innovative solutions by hearing everyone. Consider being open about your needs to set an example for the team.

Similarly, it's important that colleagues can discuss issues or ideas with a manager or team member as needed. Consider individual check-ins to encourage contributions from people that may not want to share in a group setting.

2. Get honest feedback

Others can help you identify areas for improvement that you might have trouble seeing at first. Finding a trusted friend, colleague or mentor that can offer you honest feedback about your teamwork strengths and weaknesses can help you improve them. Honest feedback can help develop your empathy as well if people tell you directly how they feel, you can reflect and understand how you might adjust behaviours in a group setting.

Related: How To Develop Skill Sets in 9 Steps

3. Set personal goals

Using both your own observations and feedback from others to form achievable, relevant and time-constrained goals can help you improve one teamwork skill at a time. Using the SMART goal framework is an easy way to set goals for your career. Sharing your personal goals with others can encourage them to do the same and you can motivate one another while working towards your common goal. Consider also setting teamwork goals, like collaborating with one new colleague a month or joining a committee.

Related: How to Achieve Goals in 8 Steps (With Common Benefits)

4. Ensure defined roles

When starting a project or joining a new team, establish clearly defined roles for each person and how your contribution can help achieve the end goal. Depending on the project, you might have more collaborative roles or individual tasks that you complete chronologically. Defined roles can help the team avoid overlap and work towards a goal efficiently. Review defined roles at the start of a project and throughout to ensure clarity.

5. Practise teamwork

It takes time and practice to see improvements in your skill set. Pay close attention to your teamwork interactions throughout the day, both in and out of work. Take mindful steps to practise the specific qualities you're trying to build. Continue to work through different teamwork dynamics, including partnerships and volunteering to help in large groups. Similarly, consider teams that range in formality. Informal team-building activities can help build interpersonal skills, while formal teamwork activities can strengthen skills like ownership and communication.

Related: 7 Common Teamwork Interview Questions and Sample Answers

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