TEAMWORKING SKILLS

 

teamwork

 

All employers are keen to recruit graduates who are able to cooperate, solve problems and work in teams. As less hierarchical organisations have emerged with project teams, self-managed work teams and management teams, so the requirements to 'Get on well with people', and to 'Work with and through others' become increasingly important.

Teamwork involves working confidently within a group, contributing your own ideas effectively, taking a share of the responsibility, being assertive - rather than passive or aggressive, accepting and learning from constructive criticism and giving positive, constructive feedback to others.

Exercise on teamworking skills.

The questionnaire which follows should help you to analyse the workings of a group and should help you to reach some tentative conclusions about your role in a team. For this exercise you will need to think of teams of which you are or were a part. These could be project groups for your course, seminar groups, sports teams, societies or clubs in which you were involved, vacation jobs in which you were part of a team, or even perhaps when you were sharing a house with a group of students.

Try to answer the 28 questions as honestly as you can. Click on "First Question" to begin. Please try to answer ALL the questions. You can go back to questions to change your answers by clicking on the previous question button.


Rarely
Sometimes 

Frequently

Always

Scores:

   

Your score

Your score can be from 0 to a maximum of 12 on each of seven group roles. Make a note of your scores or print out the page and then see below to find out what these roles involve.

 

The roles people play in meetings.

There are a number of different roles that people adopt in meetings, some of which are listed below. These roles are not always constant - one person might adopt several of these roles during one meeting or change roles depending on what is being discussed. Your score for each category should give you some idea of which of these roles you play in teams.

ENCOURAGER

Energises groups when motivation is low through humour or through being enthusiastic. They are positive individuals who support and praise other group members. They don't like sitting around. They like to move things along by suggesting ideas, by clarifying the ideas of others and by confronting problems. They may use humour to break tensions in the group.

They may say:
"We CAN do this!"
"That's a great idea!"


COMPROMISER

Destructive or selfish group roles to avoid!

  • Autocrat: tries to dominate or constantly interrupt other members of the team.
  • Show Off: talks all the time and thinks they know all the answers.
  • Butterfly: keeps changing the topic before others are ready.
  • Aggressor: doesn't show respect to others, comments negatively about them.
  • Avoider: refuses to focus on the task or on group relationship problems.
  • Critic: always sees the negative side to any argument, but never suggests alternatives. Puts down the ideas of others.
  • Help seeker: looks for sympathy from others: victim
  • Self-confessor: uses the group as a forum for inappropriate talk about self.
  • Clown: shows no involvement in group and engages in distracting communication.

Meetings in UK offices account for 40 million working hours per week, with 7.5 million deemed a waste of time.

Tries to maintain harmony among the team members. They are sociable, interested in others and will introduce people, draw them out and make them feel comfortable. They may be willing to change their own views to get a group decision. They work well with different people and can be depended on to promote a positive atmosphere, helping the team to gel. They pull people and tasks together thereby developing rapport. They are tolerant individuals and good listeners who will listen carefully to the views of other group members. They are good judges of people, diplomatic and sensitive to the feelings of others and not seen as a threat. They are able to recognise and resolve differences of opinion and the the development of conflict, they enable "difficult" team-members to contribute positively.
They may say:
"We haven't heard from Mike yet: I'd like to hear what you think about this."
"I'm not sure I agree. What are your reasons for saying that?"

LEADER

Good leaders direct the sequence of steps the group takes and keep the group "on-track". They are good at controlling people and events and coordinating resources. They have the energy, determination and initiative to overcome obstacles and bring competitive drive to the team. They give shape to the team effort. They recognise the skills of each individual and how they can be used. Leaders are outgoing individuals who have to be careful not to be domineering. They can sometimes steamroller the team but get results quickly. They may become impatient with complacency and lack of progress and may sometimes overreact. Also see our leadership styles test.

They may say
"Let's come back to this later if we have time."
"We need to move on to the next step."
"Sue, what do you think about this idea?"

SUMMARISER/CLARIFIER

Calm, reflective individuals who summarise the group's discussion and conclusions. They clarify group objectives and elaborate on the ideas of others. They may go into detail about how the group's plans would work and tie up loose ends. They are good mediators and seek consensus.

They may say:
"So here's what we've decided so far"
"I think you're right, but we could also add ...."

The “Top Ten” Skills shortages among graduates

% of employers surveyed
1 Commercial Awareness      67%
2 Communication Skills 64%
3 Leadership 33%
4 Ability to work in a team 33%
5 Problem solving 32%
6 Conceptual ability 21%
7 Subject Knowledge & competence 19%
8 Foreign languages     19%
9 Numeracy 19%
10 Good general education 15%

Source: Association of Graduate Recruiters “Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century”  www.agr.org.uk

IDEAS PERSON

The ideas person suggests new ideas to solve group problems or suggests new ways for the group to organize the task. They dislike orthodoxy and are not too concerned with practicalities. They provide suggestions and proposals that are often original and radical. They are more concerned with the big picture than with details. They may get bored after the initial impetus wears off. See our lateral thinking skills page

They may say
"Why don't we consider doing it this way?"

EVALUATOR

Evaluators help the group to avoid coming to agreement too quickly. They tend to be slow in coming to a decision because of a need to think things over. They are the logical, analytical, objective people in the team and offer measured, dispassionate critical analysis. They contribute at times of crucial decision making because they are capable of evaluating competing proposals. They may suggest alternative ideas.

They may say:
"What other possibilities are there?"
or "Let's try to look at this another way."
or "I'm not sure we're on the right track."

RECORDER

The recorder keeps the group focused and organised. They make sure that everyone is helping with the project. They are usually the first person to offer to take notes to keep a record of ideas and decisions. They also like to act as time-keeper, to allocate times to specific tasks and remind the team to keep to them, or act as a spokesperson, to deliver the ideas and findings of the group. They may check that all members understand and agree on plans and actions and know their roles and responsibilities. They act as the memory of the group.

They may say:
"We only have five minutes left, so we need to come to agreement now!"
"Do we all understand this chart?"
"Are we all in agreement on this?"

teamwork

What makes an effective team?

What makes an ineffective team

 

After all is said and done, more is said than done.
Aesop

 

Tips for group work exercises in selection centres.

  • Committee: a group of people that keeps minutes and wastes hours.
  • Committee: Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.
  • If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it. (Charles Kettering)
  • Diplomacy: the art of letting someone have your own way.
  • Conference: The confusion of one person multiplied by the number present.
  • Conference Room: A place where everybody talks, nobody listens & everybody disagrees.
  • Lecture: The art of transferring information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the student without passing through the minds of either.
  • Real work is done outside meetings, not in them!
  • After all is said and done, more is usually said than done.

If you are invited to a selection centre as part of the interview process, it's very likely that you will have a group task, such as a case study, where your performance in the group will be assessed. Here are some tips to help you to perform well. For more on assessment centres see our page on this.

Group exercises Kent students have been asked to undertake at selection centres

 

Tips and comments from Kent students:

  • Have a watch and use it! Don't forget to remember when an exercise started and how long you've got to prepare it. Also, decide on a time keeper for the group tasks.
  • Be yourself, relax and enjoy. You will feel challenged, and feel very tired, but that's expected!
  • The most important aspect is your interaction in the group. You must speak and play a prominent part in the exercise, not just react to other people. However, do not be overbearing and try to listen to others too.
  • Relax and enjoy the day. Ask lots of questions.
  • You really are marked on the key competencies they provide you with, and you are given plenty of opportunities to demonstrate these skills. If you are aware of the competencies and think about the task, it is quite clear through the exercises which skills you should be using.
  • The assessments were deliberately organised to put pressure on you time-wise. The point of most of the assessments didn't seem to be getting to the correct answer but seeing how you got there: so bear this in mind. One or two of the candidates tried too hard to impress and were very overbearing when it came to the group exercises: I'm not sure that this is what the assessors were looking for and it certainly didn't make them popular with the other candidates!
  • A group of 8 candidates sat around a table and discussed a business proposal whilst 8 assessors sat around edge of room taking notes on us. This lasted for about ¾ hour. 
  • Take initiatives e.g. in group discussions go use the flip chart, propose to use it, watch the time. Show enthusiasm: this is very important when telling about an event in an assessment centre. Biggest hurdle is the time. Always watch for the time while you are working. (Ernst & Young)
  • There are always people watching so be careful about what you say/who you say it to/when you say it.  Be friendly to the other candidates. (Deloitte)
  • During group work, always keep and eye on the time and make sure the panel can see you're doing this. Encourage everyone in your group to contribute and listen to their ideas.
  • The biggest thing that gave me confidence was the realisation that not only was everyone else nervous, the other candidates were very friendly with each other in general. I took it as an opportunity to chat to people in the breaks and I actually forgot I was probably being assessed as I was enjoying myself! I also found it helped to make small talk with the interviewers.
  • Time management is pretty crucial in individual tasks and I suspect you get brownie points for keeping on top of this in group tasks too. Also remind yourself that what you're doing is good experience, and will teach you valuable lessons regardless of the outcome.

You can also benefit by asking yourself some other questions:

You might like to use the following headings to make notes or, the contributions of particular group members.

Observer assessment form for group exercises

Here are the sort of criteria on which your contributions to a group exercise at a selection centre might be assessed. You might like to use them to make notes on the contributions of particular group members.

Participation

  • Participates enthusiastically in discussion.
  • Actively influences events rather than passively accepting.
  • Acts on opportunities: originates action.

Spoken Expression

  • Expresses his/herself clearly and coherently.
  • Makes a clear persuasive presentation of ideas and facts

Originality of Ideas

  • Introduces new ideas.
  • Builds constructively an the ideas of others.
  • Brings a fresh approach to a problem.

Quality of Thought

  • Analyses the problem well.
  • Gets to the root of the problem: can recognise which information is important and which is peripheral.
  • Can evaluate data and courses of action, draw sound inferences and reach logical decisions.

Influence on Others

  • Makes a point which is accepted by the other members.
  • Influences the direction and nature of the discussion.

Open Mindedness

  • Listens to carefully to other members' views.
  • Incorporates the points made by others into their own.
  • Shows tact and diplomacy

Facilitation of the Discussion

  • Makes a direct attempt to help another person.
  • Squashes a dominant interrupter to allow someone else to make a point.

Judgment

  • Discriminates clearly between the important and the trivial.
  • Does not allow his/her feelings to sway decisions: unbiased and rational.

 

Links to related pages

 

There was once a team of four individuals called respectively: Everyone, Someone, Anyone and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everyone was sure that Someone would do it.
Anyone could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Someone got angry about this, because it was Everyone’s job.
Everyone thought Anyone could do it, but Nobody realised that Everyone wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everyone blamed Someone when Nobody did what Anyone could have done.