Teamwork: Learning Skills for Collaborative Work

In the business world, teamwork is the most effective way to accomplish a goal or complete a project. Effective teams have specific characteristics that allow for the optimal efficiency and productivity. One of those characteristics is the ability of each team member to shift from one position to another within the team seamlessly. For example, one week you might be in a leadership role and the next, you may be in less authoritative role within the team. Effective teams share accountability and are dedicated to creating the best outcome possible. Morale is high because everyone knows their role within the team is just as important as the next team member’s.

Through team building, honing project management and leadership skills, learning team problem solving techniques, creating processes for dealing with team member conflicts and realizing the importance of team member feedback, you can build a team that is effective and strong. If you want to improve your team work and group communication processes like the ones mentioned above, this article will help you gain more insight into accomplishing just that.

Team Building
There are many different avenues and strategies to go about building a strong and effective team and to solidify team member relationships. One such strategy that would accomplish this would be to: Clarify your team mission; decide what each team member’s role will be; set team goals; create a team plan; encourage team feedback; and review progress along the way. Using strategies such as this one will help your team stay cohesive and minimize conflict within the team. That way everyone knows what the mission and goals for the team are, what their individual purpose is within the team and knows they can give feedback at anytime—this is team building at its best.

Project Management
Within project management the process must be well defined and flow from one step to another in an orderly fashion through the project’s life cycle. There are many principles in project management, as it is a very complex and multi-dimensional activity. Finding the right set of project management principles must be a collaborative team effort, as the principles can change from project to project and there is not one set of principles that works for every project. In addition to finding the most effective principles for the project, basic activities within project management include scheduling, planning, controlling of project activities to meet objectives on time, evaluating performance, budgeting and cost control, setting goals and time management. As you can see project management is a big endeavor and can require you to use your problem solving skills continuously. There is a lot of information about project management on the Internet to help you along the way.

Team Problem Solving
Working with a team means you not only have your problem solving skills to pull from, but you have access to a group of people who possess an arsenal of problem solving techniques. Within your team you can successfully solve a problem by first, identifying the problem, brainstorming ways to solve the problem, deciding on the most effective method to use to solve the problem, and then executing the plan and solution. Problem solving skills are very important to hone and cultivate. Keep your brain active by periodically doing problem solving exercises. You can find many sites on the Internet that provide these.

Team Conflict
No matter the situation, even in business, conflicts between individuals are going to arise. It is human nature. But within a team environment conflicts can be minimized and even avoided when group members are encouraged to build effective relationships through trust and bonding within the group. Encourage your team members to really listen to one another, not to jump to conclusions and to understand what each team member’s place and job within the team is. Feedback can be an effective conflict resolution technique when used in a controlled environment with controlled statements. Using feedback statement starters such as: “When you”; “I feel”; and “What do you think about”; can really bring rationality to the process. Feedback is just one of many conflict resolution strategies that can be used.

Team Feedback
Your team can assess their effectiveness in meeting the goals of the project through team feedback. Feedback allows team members to open up about problems they may be having or challenges they have overcome. Feedback is communication, and communication is one of the most important skills a team can have. Without communication the team will fall apart. Create a safe and controlled environment so team members feel safe and comfortable giving their feedback without fear of repercussions.

Team Leadership
A leader should see themselves as part of the team—not outside the team. Leaders must maintain an air of authority and have the trust of their team. You can assess how you are doing as a leader by looking at the effectiveness of your team and its accomplishments. If your team is disgruntled and lacking motivation, then you know your leadership is not effective and needs to be improved. Improving your leadership skills means researching and studying the style and principles other successful leaders use to lead their teams. The resources on leadership are countless; through the Internet or at your local book store you can learn about great leaders and adapt what you learn to develop a leadership style that works for you and your team.