Teamwork is the heart and soul of any workplace.
Even those who take on a good deal of solo responsibility still collaborate — making teamwork an important skill to develop.
Teamwork promotes efficiency, bonds, and solidarity, but only when you do it right. And in a workplace, functional teamwork doesn’t always come easy. Building collaboration skills demands effort and ongoing growth, especially when you have dozens of people working on the same project.
Groups with healthy teamwork skills reap the benefits of working together, and individuals maintain the independence they need to succeed. Learning more about different types of skills and how to build them is the first step to progress.
What are teamwork skills?
Teamwork skills are the interpersonal soft skills that help groups have productive interactions. Some teamwork skills examples include conflict management, respect, and active listening — each of which promotes fluid conversations and projects.
Groups that work well together have strong teamwork skills. It’s a direct correlation. But the skills you need might depend on what kind of team you’re working on. A software development team might need communication and patience to debug code together, and a product team might need more self-awareness and empathy to share ideas without judgment. These skills all connect to the team’s shared goal.
10 teamwork skills all groups should have
Team-building skills are the unique qualities that drive productive collaboration. They determine group members' ability to work with others and make their peers feel safe and valued in the workplace — all while innovating and getting the job done.
The following 10 skills are essential for any team:
Communication makes the top of the list because it doesn’t just foster better teamwork; it’s essential to it. If individuals silo information, others don’t have a clear picture of what everyone’s crossing off the to-do list, leading to confusion, mistakes, and even conflict.
Team members always need to express themselves clearly and frequently, whether they’re working independently or collaborating in a group setting. But it’s a fine balance between that and overcommunicating. Non-stop chat messages can be distracting, and too many meetings take up precious time. That’s what makes communication a difficult skill to develop.
2. Active listening
Active listening is a communication skill that benefits both speakers and listeners. When people listen actively, they focus on what the other person is saying — not what they’re planning on contributing next.
Active listeners use body language and nonverbal communication gestures like eye contact and nodding to show they’re paying attention. They also repeat what they’ve heard to confirm their understanding. This makes everyone involved feel more comfortable and avoids miscommunications in the process.
Teammates don’t have to be best friends to get along. They just have to respect one another and focus on solutions, not arguments.
Respectful team members avoid reacting negatively in challenging moments, and they approach disagreements with openness instead of hostility. This is especially important for managers because disrespected staff might not want to put in the same effort or share their ideas. The key is to give constructive feedback, avoid emotional reactions, and honor people’s differences.
4. Conflict resolution
Conflict is inevitable — even healthy. Constructive conflict surfaces opposing ideas and encourages teams to try new ways of working, think outside of the box, and ultimately grow. It’s the difference between closing a meeting early out of frustration and starting a productive conversation about where that frustration comes from.
Team players with solid conflict resolution skills listen without judgment, address issues as they arise instead of putting them off, and focus on solutions. And when you can’t reach an agreement, you should know how to respectfully negotiate a compromise.
Teams are as strong as the individuals in them. Fewer conflicts arise when everyone takes accountability for the tasks they must complete and acknowledge when things go wrong. It’s not about playing the blame game but being honest about mistakes and missteps.
Accountability also implies assuming responsibility for errors without waiting for a leader, like a project manager, to intervene. Everyone makes mistakes, and those who admit theirs prevent further issues. And having a precedent for this kind of communication sets the team up for smoother workflows.
The strongest leaders know how to delegate workloads appropriately so no single person has too many tasks. And team members that delegate well also know when they’re taking on too much. Saying “no” to a surplus of work prevents the errors and burnout that can throw a wrench into the workflow.
You can start on the right foot by clearly delegating roles and responsibilities, communicating openly about everyone’s bandwidth, and using planning tools to visualize the distribution of work.
Teams tackle problems daily — whether something simple, like ensuring a new member has access to tools, or more complex, like roadmapping a project together. Problem-solving skills help them navigate through those problems as a team without stepping on each others’ toes.
Groups that problem-solve healthily allow all to share thoughts and opinions before agreeing upon a route forward. They also take a solution-oriented approach when obstacles.
One of the best qualities of a good team member is an open mind: the ability to appreciate and respect others’ differences and learn from them. In addition to gleaning new insights, open-minded people help foster a safer, more inclusive workplace.
Without an open mind, you can’t truly accept other people’s suggestions or understand their perspectives when things go wrong. A team full of stubborn people might be set in their ways and lack the insights they need to move forward.
Tense or stressful situations at work often spark emotional reactions, whether people decide to share those reactions or not. Being self-aware helps them track their own feelings and recognize when they’re reacting harshly.
Be honest with yourself, learn what makes you tick, and pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. It’s okay to admit you’re overtasked or don’t have the right skills or tools for the job. Ultimately, speaking up can save the team a problem, and you’ll learn something new about yourself.
Building trust takes time and a combination of many other skills to build. Team members can start by maintaining strong communication, respecting one another, and navigating conflicts calmly. Taking responsibility for work and accountability for errors also helps.
Trusting team members know they can count on others to complete tasks, admit mistakes or issues, and help resolve problems. It’s the key to a productive team that relies on each other instead of avoiding collaborative work.
How to improve your teamwork skills
Soft skills might seem simple, but they’re often more challenging to foster than hard skills because they’re harder to define. You can take a course if you want to learn a new project management methodology or coding skill, but becoming a more trustworthy teammate takes on-the-job effort.
Here are a few tips for improving your teamwork skills:
Set goals — change won’t come if you don’t know what you’re working toward. Set a goal and try to develop one skill at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself. Maybe you’ve historically jumped to conclusions instead of listening actively. Make a point to pay better attention in conversations to absorb everything the other person says.
Get feedback — asking for honest feedback about soft skills can feel vulnerable. No one wants to hear that they aren’t great at taking accountability or resolving conflict. But weaknesses are just areas of opportunity, so ask a friend or coworker you trust to help you pinpoint the teamwork skills you can improve.
Observe others — perhaps there’s someone on your team with exceptional listening skills or who’s excellent at resolving conflict. Observe how this person handles situations and mimic their habits. In time, those skills will become natural to you.
How to list teamwork skills on your resume
Soft skills aren’t just crucial to the role you currently hold. They’re essential to the jobs you apply for in the future. Communication or problem-solving could be the thing that sets you apart from other applicants, so don’t skip them.
Here’s how to list teamwork skills on your resume:
Include relevant skills — research what values are essential to the company you’re applying to, and include skills that mesh with them. If an organization takes pride in its inclusivity, highlight your ability to be respectful and open-minded.
Use examples — provide a brief explanation for every soft skill you list. If you highlight your organizational skills, give an example of something you organized.
Be brief — choose a few important skills and examples rather than writing a laundry list. Teamwork qualities are just one small part of the document, and writing too many could look like you’re trying too hard.
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