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Employability skills

Team working

What are team working skills?

The ability to interact and co-operate with a group of people to achieve a goal. It involves hands-on working together, as well as processes of organisational planning, decision-making and development.

Effective team working requires team members to co-operate, listen to each other, communicate clearly, share knowledge and information, show commitment to the team and task and be supportive of other members.

A great deal of research has been conducted and theories produced as to what makes teams effective. The general consensus is that the most effective teams will have a mix of different personality and team-working styles. One of the most widely known theories on effective teams is that of Meredith Belbin who devised nine different team roles which he believed teams need in order to be effective.  It is worth having a look at these and seeing which you identify with; this will help your understanding of your preferences and areas you may need to work on in relation to team working. It is also useful to understand other people's working preferences as differences in team role preferences can often lead to friction, misunderstandings or problems in a group or team setting.

It is worth noting that most of us will not necessarily prefer one role to the exclusion of others, and will often adopt traits of different team roles as required. 

Why do employers want team working skills?

Every job will require you to work with other people at some point. It is also more than likely that you will, at times, have to work with people you do not necessarily like or get along with.  These people may be within or outside your organisation.  Having an understanding of different team working styles, and appreciating the value that this mix brings, will help you to be more accepting and understanding of others.  By recruiting people who demonstrate the qualities listed above, employers ensure that teams are more likely to be successful and effective thereby contributing to the success of the organisation.

Examples of how team working skills can be developed or evidenced

  • Group work at university.
  • Team sports/ outdoor pursuits.
  • Work experience or voluntary work (e.g. negotiating with others to achieve an agreed objective, motivating and supporting other team members, improving working relations, resolving disputes by bringing together different opinions).
  • Organising an event with club or society members.