Seek out these soft skills for a culture of teamwork
Topics covered in this article
Team projects are challenging. Asking individuals with different opinions and working styles to come together to solve a problem is a delicate balancing act. One miscast team member can ruin the entire dynamic.
It’s no wonder 50 to 70 percent of team-based projects fail. Despite this daunting percentage, the benefits of talent working together far outweigh the risk of failure. One study found a team-based approach can improve everything from the quality of your products and services to the satisfaction of your employees.
One way to set your organization up for success in this area is to seek out people with a specific blend of teamwork soft skills.
This one is at the top of the list for a reason. Without good communication, your team won’t get anywhere. You’ll note, we’re not just talking about the ability to express oneself. Team players know how to adapt their communication to reach different types of people and adjust their approach as the situation requires. They know when to speak up to help solve the problem in the moment and know when to take comments offline. They’ll be able to use verbal and nonverbal skills to build trust and get their points across.
Teamwork is powerful because it involves bringing together a range of perspectives and expertise to arrive at the best possible solution. The only way this works, however, is if all of these perspectives and expertise are heard. People who work well within team environments know when to let others weigh in. Not only do they know how to step back and listen, they know how to listen to understand. How to get to the root of what each team member is thinking. How to ask questions. How to gain the clarity required to build on each other’s ideas and move forward in the same direction.
While everyone on the team should be able to listen and communicate effectively, it's also helpful to have one or two people on a project who know how to facilitate these conversations. They can help moderate discussions and brainstorms, pull expertise out of key individuals, and make sure everyone’s voice gets heard. All while ensuring everyone remains focused on the task at hand to minimize wasted time and unproductive rabbit holes.
Outside group discussions, someone on the team needs to help maintain momentum. Someone who is highly organized, understands timelines, and knows how to hold people accountable. People with these skills are often eager to set up check-ins, schedule all-team meetings, outline milestones, and assign individual tasks to keep things moving forward and the project on track.
Without people on the team who can push the group to make decisions and move onto the next challenge, teamwork can go off the rails. All the opinions and possibilities can send discussions down endless paths until everyone loses sight of the goal. People who are good decision makers can take in all the factors, see decisions that need to be made, and help everyone settle on an answer.
Of course it’s much easier to make these group decisions if no one feels they’re being forced to agree on a course of action. People who work well with teams don’t just make decisions for the group and barrel ahead. They should be able to bring everyone around to a collective decision in a respectful way. They work to understand everyone’s point of view and appeal to their motivations to arrive at solutions everyone can feel good about.
The very nature of teamwork means bringing together people with differing points of view to solve the problem at hand. This can lead to tensions especially when people are passionate about the outcome of the project. Everyone on a team should be able to mediate disagreements among themselves—anyone who can’t will be impossible to work with. That being said, it can also be helpful to include someone who is particularly adept at conflict resolution. Someone who can help team members understand each other and bring conflicting parties back together when necessary.
As you bring on new talent, you have the opportunity to further establish a culture of teamwork across your organization. Seek out people who demonstrate these teamwork skills. If everyone in your organization is primed to work shoulder to shoulder, it will be easier to pull productive teams together—minimal balancing act required.