What is Team Working Skill?
All employers are keen to recruit graduates who are able to cooperate, solve problems and work in teams. As less hierarchical organisations have emerged with project teams, self-managed work teams and management teams, so the requirements to ‘Get on well with people’, and to ‘Work with and through others‘ become increasingly important.
Teamwork involves working confidently within a group, contributing your own ideas effectively, taking a share of the responsibility, being assertive – rather than passive or aggressive, accepting and learning from constructive criticism and giving positive, constructive feedback to others.
- Exercise on team working skills
- The roles people play in meetings.
- What makes an effective team?
- Tips for group work exercises in selection centres
- Observer assessment form for group exercises
Following are the details of the team working skill
Exercise on team working skills.
The questionnaire which follows should help you to analyse the workings of a group and should help you to reach some tentative conclusions about your role in a team. For this exercise you will need to think of teams of which you are or were a part. These could be project groups for your course, seminar groups, sports teams, societies or clubs in which you were involved, vacation jobs in which you were part of a team, or even perhaps when you were sharing a house with a group of students.
The roles people play in meetings.
There are a number of different roles that people adopt in meetings, some of which are listed below. These roles are not always constant – one person might adopt several of these roles during one meeting or change roles depending on what is being discussed. Your score for each category should give you some idea of which of these roles you play in teams.
Energies groups when motivation is low through humor or through being enthusiastic. They are positive individuals who support and praise other group members. They don’t like sitting around. They like to move things along by suggesting ideas, by clarifying the ideas of others and by confronting problems. They may use humor to break tensions in the group.
Tries to maintain harmony among the team members. They are sociable, interested in others and will introduce people, draw them out and make them feel comfortable. They may be willing to change their own views to get a group decision. They work well with different people and can be depended on to promote a positive atmosphere, helping the team to gel. They pull people and tasks together thereby developing rapport. They are tolerant individuals and good listeners who will listen carefully to the views of other group members. They are good judges of people, diplomatic and sensitive to the feelings of others and not seen as a threat. They are able to recognize and resolve differences of opinion and the the development of conflict, they enable “difficult” team-members to contribute positively
Tries to maintain harmony among the team members. They are sociable, interested in others and will introduce people, draw them out and make them feel comfortable. They may be willing to change their own views to get a group decision. They work well with different people and can be depended on to promote a positive atmosphere, helping the team to gel. They pull people and tasks together thereby developing rapport. They are tolerant individuals and good listeners who will listen carefully to the views of other group members. They are good judges of people, diplomatic and sensitive to the feelings of others and not seen as a threat. They are able to recognize and resolve differences of opinion and the the development of conflict, they enable “difficult” team-members to contribute positively.
Good leaders direct the sequence of steps the group takes and keep the group “on-track”. They are good at controlling people and events and coordinating resources. They have the energy, determination and initiative to overcome obstacles and bring competitive drive to the team. They give shape to the team effort. They recognise the skills of each individual and how they can be used. Leaders are outgoing individuals who have to be careful not to be domineering. They can sometimes steamroller the team but get results quickly. They may become impatient with complacency and lack of progress and may sometimes overreact. Also see our
Calm, reflective individuals who summaries the group’s discussion and conclusions. They clarify group objectives and elaborate on the ideas of others. They may go into detail about how the group’s plans would work and tie up loose ends. They are good mediators and seek consensus.
The ideas person suggests new ideas to solve group problems or suggests new ways for the group to organize the task. They dislike orthodoxy and are not too concerned with practicalities. They provide suggestions and proposals that are often original and radical. They are more concerned with the big picture than with details. They may get bored after the initial impetus wears off. See our lateral thinking skills page
Evaluators help the group to avoid coming to agreement too quickly. They tend to be slow in coming to a decision because of a need to think things over. They are the logical, analytical, objective people in the team and offer measured, dispassionate critical analysis. They contribute at times of crucial decision making because they are capable of evaluating competing proposals. They may suggest alternative ideas.
The recorder keeps the group focused and organised. They make sure that everyone is helping with the project. They are usually the first person to offer to take notes to keep a record of ideas and decisions. They also like to act as time-keeper, to allocate times to specific tasks and remind the team to keep to them, or act as a spokesperson, to deliver the ideas and findings of the group. They may check that all members understand and agree on plans and actions and know their roles and responsibilities. They act as the memory of the group.
What makes an effective team?
- It has a range of individuals who contribute in different ways and complement each other. A team made up just of planners would find it difficult to cope with changing deadlines or plans whereas a team full of spontaneous individuals would be disorganised: you need both types. A good team produces more than the individual contributions of members.
- Clear goals are agreed on that everyone understands and is committed to.
- Everyone understands the tasks they have to do and helps each other.
- It has a coordinator who may adopt a leadership style from autocratic to democratic depending on the circumstances. Different people may assume the role of leader for different tasks.
- There is a balance between the task and the process
- There is a supportive, informal atmosphere where members feel able to take risks and say what they think.
- The group is comfortable with disagreement and can successfully overcome differences in opinion.
- There is a lot of discussion in which everyone participates. Group members listen to each other and everyone’s ideas are heard.
- Members feel free to criticise and say what they think but this is done in a positive, constructive manner.
- The group learns from experience: reviewing and improving performance in the light of both successes and failures.
- Great Teams Are About Personalities, Not Just Skills
What makes an ineffective team?
- People talk more than they listen and only a few people may contribute.
- Some members are silent and don’t contribute. They may be indifferent, bored or afraid to contribute.
- Members ideas are dismissed or even ridiculed and their views are ignored.
- There are arguments between members of the group .
- One or two members dominate the others and make the decisions.
- Disagreements are put to the vote without being discussed.
- Some members are unhappy with decisions and grumble privately afterwards.
- Little effort is made to keep to the point or to work to deadlines.
- There is a lack of clarity regarding goals and specific tasks are not agreed to.
- Roles are not delegated to particular team members.
- There is a lack of trust and helpfulness.
- Members don’t talk about how the group is working or the problems it faces.
Tips for group work exercises in selection centers.
If you are invited to a selection centre as part of the interview process, it’s very likely that you will have a group task, such as a case study, where your performance in the group will be assessed. Here are some tips to help you to perform well.
- Read a quality newspaper in the weeks before the assessment centre – sometimes topics for discussion will be based on recent items in the news.
- When you read the information given for a group exercise, underline key points and the likely arguments and counter arguments. Look for any red herrings
- Try to be yourself. Don’t try to put on a façade or mask.
- Talk to the other candidates and assessors between exercises to help keep yourself relaxed.
- Keep a note of the finish time. Don’t allow the group to over-run. Statements like “look we only have 5 minutes left so we need to get a move on” may help.
- For some exercises (e.g. balloon debates) it helps to decide on the criteria on which you will make your choices and then stick to this. For example if you have to decide who to save from a sinking ship, do you save the youngest, the fittest or the ones with useful skills? Spend time in preparation and planning rather than just jumping in – decide your objectives and priorities, but don’t take too long and get bogged down at this stage.
- If a particular group member is quiet try to get them to contribute. It’s a good idea to encourage them along the lines “We haven’t heard from Mike yet – I’d like to hear what you think of the proposal.”
- Voting for a particular choice is a last resort and should only be used if persuasion and consensus have failed and time is running out.
- Stick up for your opinions and argue persuasively and with logic for them, but also listen to the opinions of others and support those you agree with. Don’t belittle the ideas of others – in most cases you’re not competing directly against the other members of the group – everyone could be selected or everyone rejected.
- Go for quality rather than quantity in your contributions. Don’t talk aimlessly. Try to move the group forward by your contributions e.g. “Look this is now going anywhere. Why don’t we move on and come back to this topic later”
- Summarising can sometimes help to clarify the position. “Before we go on shall I summarise what we’ve agreed”
- If a dominant individual tries to “hijack” the group, don’t be afraid to challenge them, but do this calmly, logically and diplomatically, not by attacking them. You could ask “What are your reasons for saying that?”
- If you are made the leader of an exercise it’s a good idea to ask for volunteers for particular tasks such as note taking, and to delegate responsibility. Identify the strengths of the other group members and use them. Don’t get too involved in the fine detail of the task – your role as the leader is to keep an overview.
- Keep cool and use your sense of humour. Be assertive, tactful and persuasive and work with the group. Listen to what everyone has to say. Don’t interrupt or put down other group members.
- Try to be creative – introduce new ideas or build on the ideas of others.
Here are the sort of criteria on which your contributions to a group exercise at a selection centre might be assessed. You might like to use them to make notes on the contributions of particular group members.
- Participates enthusiastically in discussion.
- Actively influences events rather than passively accepting.
- Acts on opportunities: originates action.
- Expresses his/herself clearly and coherently.
- Makes a clear persuasive presentation of ideas and facts
Originality of IdeasIntroduces new ideas.
- Builds constructively an the ideas of others.
- Brings a fresh approach to a problem.
Quality of Thought
- Analyses the problem well.
- Gets to the root of the problem: can recognise which information is important and which is peripheral.
- Can evaluate data and courses of action, draw sound inferences and reach logical decisions.
Influence on Others
- Makes a point which is accepted by the other members.
- Influences the direction and nature of the discussion.
- Listens to carefully to other members’ views.
- Incorporates the points made by others into their own.
- Shows tact and diplomacy
Facilitation of the Discussion
- Makes a direct attempt to help another person.
- Squashes a dominant interrupter to allow someone else to make a point.
- Discriminates clearly between the important and the trivial.
- Does not allow his/her feelings to sway decisions: unbiased and rational.