Team-working skills

All employers are keen to recruit graduates who are able to cooperate, solve problems alongside others, and work in teams. Teamwork involves working confidently within a group, contributing your own ideas effectively, taking a share of the responsibility, being assertive, accepting and learning from constructive criticism and giving positive, constructive feedback to others.

We've put together some key points about teamwork. If you would like to work on and improve your teamworking skills we recommend taking part in our free Study Plus sessions on the topic. 

Watch the Study Plus workshop on Team-working skills and find out more about in person workshops on a range of topics here

What makes an effective team?

  • It has a range of individuals who contribute in different ways and complement each other. A team made up just of planners would find it difficult to cope with changing deadlines or plans whereas a team full of spontaneous individuals would be disorganised: you need both types. A good team produces more than the individual contributions of members.
  • Clear goals are agreed on that everyone understands and is committed to.
  • Everyone understands the tasks they have to do and helps each other.
  • It has a coordinator who may adopt a leadership style from autocratic to democratic depending on the circumstances. Different people may assume the role of leader for different tasks.
  • There is a balance between the task (what do we need to do?) and the process (how do we achieve this?)
  • There is a supportive, informal atmosphere where members feel able to take risks and say what they think.
  • The group is comfortable with disagreement and can successfully overcome differences in opinion.
  • There is a lot of discussion in which everyone participates. Group members listen to each other and everyone's ideas are heard.
  • Members feel free to criticise and say what they think but this is done in a positive, constructive manner.
  • The group learns from experience: reviewing and improving performance in the light of both successes and failures.

What makes an ineffective team

  • People talk more than they listen and only a few people may contribute.
  • Some members are silent and don't contribute. They may be indifferent, bored or afraid to contribute.
  • Members ideas are dismissed or even ridiculed and their views are ignored.
  • There are arguments between members of the group (as opposed to constructive differences of opinion).
  • One or two members dominate the others and make the decisions.
  • Disagreements are put to the vote without being discussed.
  • Some members are unhappy with decisions and grumble privately afterwards.
  • Little effort is made to keep to the point or to work to deadlines.
  • There is a lack of clarity regarding goals and specific tasks are not agreed to.
  • Roles are not delegated to particular team members.
  • There is a lack of trust and helpfulness.
  • Members don't talk about how the group is working or the problem

Assessment Centres 

Teamworking skills are often assessed at Assessment Centres through group tasks. You can prepare yourself for this by taking part in one of our Mock Assessment Centre Workshops and reading more about assessment centres on our website pages

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