Careers advice, Office Life

Five tips for successful teamwork

With the right amount of time, organization and patience, you can set yourself and your team up for success.

Teamwork is one of the most consistently required skills seen on job descriptions. In fact, 75% of employers rate team work and collaboration as “very important.” So why do many of us hate working in teams so much? It seems everyone has a teamwork horror story – a group project gone wrong in school or a leaderless work project doomed to fail from the start.

The good news is that with the right amount of time, organization and patience, you can set yourself and your team up for success.

Here are five tips to remember next time you start a team project:

Clearly define team roles

This is one of the most important things you can do from the very beginning. Schedule time to sit down with your team and figure out what the project will entail. Then, decide who has the right experience and skills to tackle each task. You can even use resources like Belbin’s team roles to help you match your team members’ strengths to a role in the team.

Create a work plan

Once you have roles defined, it’s time to put a plan in place. Decide critical deadlines in advance and set your meeting schedule. How often will you meet? In what way? Face-to-face meetings? Calls? Make this a living document so it can be changed as priorities shift throughout the different phases of a project.

Embrace conflict

If managed properly, conflict can be a productive way to smooth out any bumps in workflow or processes. Don’t shy away from conflict when working in a team. Rather, address it head on to improve the way you work and your results.

Listen to your teammates

Don’t be the person in the team who talks over others to make sure their ideas are heard any recognized. Instead, participate in active listening when communicating with your teammates. Check understanding throughout to make sure you’re on the same page. Practicing good listening skills can save a lot of time wasted on misunderstandings.

Take responsibility, but share credit

One of the signs of a good leader and team player is when someone steps up to take responsibility for mistakes but credits the team with successes. If things go wrong, identify the role you played and speak up about what steps you will take to improve the next time. Don’t point the finger at your teammates. And when things go right, recognize that it’s never one single person’s effort and share that recognition with your teammates.