Remember those school projects with group members that just didn’t work well together? Working on a team can be a beautiful or frustrating experience, depending on who makes up the team members. We’ve all been there.
In the past, “soft skills” like teamwork, communication, and leadership were easily overlooked. But no more. Many employers have begun rebranding these as critical skills as “ power skills” because of how essential they are to an ever-changing workplace.
The most important? Teamwork. The #1 reported reason why managers fired, didn’t promote, or lowered an employee’s performance review was because they “didn’t seem to fit with the team.” Use these 4 methods to bring your teamwork skills to the next level!
Volunteering not only gives back to your community, but levels up your teamwork skills. As you work with others to complete a common goal, you’ll develop an intuition of how to work in a team, likely without realizing it. If you find the right organization, you will feel personally connected to and empathize with the organization’s main goal. You’ll feel a sense of achievement as your group takes on challenges and completes them with ease.
Working with people that are passionate about similar issues will develop your empathy and emotional intelligence, both of which are necessary as you progress in your career. This is when team building is most rewarding!
Have you looked into the volunteering opportunities in your area? Now’s your chance! Visit VolunteerMatch to find an opportunity that speaks to you.
Practice Communication Daily
Solid and consistent communication is foundational for great teamwork. Teams that communicate well are better at sharing ideas, brainstorming, asking for help, and receiving feedback. All members of a team should be able to have constructive conversations that guide them through their differences and lead them to the best solutions.
Powerful teams are ones that have learned how to flex their communication muscles. To train yours, focus on the following tips in your day-to-day life.
Prevent Using Filler Words: Umm, so like yeah, you know? It’s time to speak clearly and get your thoughts across without the unnecessary interruptions that come from filler words. To help, build a list of random speaking topics and set a timer for five minutes. Sit or stand in front of a mirror and speak for five minutes straight on that topic. Anytime you use a filler word, start the timer over. Soon, you’ll get rid of those nasty fillers for good.
Nonverbal Communication: Communication isn’t all speech patterns, after all. What you do with your face and body is important. Watch your body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions to get a deeper feel for how your message is getting across. If you’re in a virtual setting, make sure your camera is on as much as you can. Mastering the art of nonverbal communication will help prevent miscommunication. With time, it will also prove to your listener that you’re interested in the conversation.
Active Listening: People like knowing they’ve been heard. It’s necessary for good communication to practice active listening, instead of thinking about your next response. Put an honest effort into relaying the message back to them. This strategy is especially useful if the speaker themself is struggling to put ideas into words. By rephrasing the message back, you can help improve everyone’s comprehension and prove you’ve been listening.
Engage the Listener: Don’t forget to keep your listener engaged when it’s your turn to speak. Involve them by asking questions and driving the conversation deeper. Steer away from a monotone voice and be concise in your wording whenever possible.
Practicing these tips will make you a better communicator and, in turn, a better team player.
The best teams are able to rely on each other with anything. Disorganization, poor prioritizing, and poor time management skills can all lead to unreliability. If any of these describe you, chances are people see you as less reliable. Use the tips below to turn your habits around.
Get organized by cleaning out your desk and creating a designated place for your belongings. Keeping an up-to-date calendar of upcoming events and due dates will help you ensure nothing flies under your radar.
Work on prioritizing by thinking critically about your bigger picture goals before starting your work. This type of thinking can be especially helpful during transition periods between projects or coming back from a break. If you aren’t sure what to prioritize, reach out to your team leader or teammates for clarity.
Manage your time by planning out the next day the night before. Plan hour-by-hour to best utilize every minute. Then, stick to your plan! For first time planners, this may feel too restricting. If you need to, give yourself permission to change plans if there’s a good reason. Time is valuable. If we don’t plan it, we tend to waste it.
Already organized and dependable? It’s time to prove it to others. Offer to lessen the workload of another team member by taking some work off their plate. Make sure you follow through on what you take on. The more dependable you are, the more you can help your team grow and succeed.
Join a Team!
Joining a recreational sport or club on campus is a great way to build teamwork. From chess club to underwater basket weaving, most colleges have something for anyone. Think about the skills or sports you’d like to revisit (or learn for the first time!), do a bit of research, and sign-up. If the first meeting is a couple months out, set a reminder on your phone to attend the kickoff meeting.
For bonus points, try out a leadership position in these teams. There’s no better place to practice leading a team. Who knows, this might open up a whole new world of growth opportunities to you!
At the end of the day, if you can commit yourself to one of the tasks listed above, your teamworking skills will improve and you, as a current or future employee, will increase your chances of career success. Think long-term growth over instantaneous change.
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