Team Working Skills
Effective teamwork was a challenge even before the global pandemic. Lockdown made it even harder. Now, as some people return to work, organizations need to renew their focus on enabling teamwork.
How well were your teams working together before lockdown? What about when they had to work remotely? Finding the right answer to these questions won’t be easy. Even defining teamwork is tricky.
Having good team working skills isn’t simply being able to get along with others. It’s also the ability of people to work well with others - and it’s important in every industry, from financial services to retail. In fact, Australia’s Edith Cowan University found that businesses believe team working skills are one of the most important for graduates1.
As people in some parts of the world return to work, and as organizations try to strike the balance between remote work and working on location, how can you ensure teamwork is more effective than it was before?
What are team working skills, and why are they important?
Team working skills are vital to a team’s success. And enabling people to be successful when they collaborate is a critical part of the broader Employee Experience. As a leader, you’re responsible for putting teams together and making sure that they do succeed. So, how do you do it?
First, it’s essential to acknowledge that team working skills don’t always come naturally to everyone. People can learn them, although working well in a team is not something you can easily learn on a training course1. Mercedes Benz found team working was one of the only skills not improved by outside training.
People can hone their skills on the job though, so you can't underestimate the importance of demonstrating good team working skills. This is empowering for managers, as you stay in control – you can influence and be the role model your team needs.
Second, team working skills don’t develop in a vacuum – the team environment needs to be right. Back in the 1970s, social and organizational psychologist Richard Hackman defined three ‘enabling conditions’ for teams to thrive, and they still stand firm today:
- A compelling direction
- A strong structure
- A supportive context
Team working skills in the COVID-19 landscape
But that was before lockdown. What effect has the shift to remote working had on people’s ability to collaborate? What does that mean for businesses?
In short, “what now?”
As some parts of the world begin cautiously remerging from lockdown, that’s a question on the lips of business leaders. But even in the midst of so much uncertainty, one thing hasn’t changed at all. COVID-19 has forced almost every organization to double down on its people.
It’s already having an impact. According to a recent study, 90% of companies believe their culture improved while working remotely. As remote work becomes return-to-work, people will expect this level of commitment to Employee Experience (EX) to continue.
And one way that organizations can positively influence wider EX is by making sure employees are empowered to work together in highly collaborative ways. But with remaining uncertainty about the global pandemic, organizations will need to solve this challenge for those employees working full-time on location, full-time at home, or a hybrid version of the two.
Tips for improving team working skills
There are several tips for improving team working skills that were important before the shift to remote work and remain important as some parts of the world begin returning to work.