When Arianna Huffington started a humble little online publication in 2005, she was disrupting an industry dominated by giant media houses. So she was obsessed with efficiency, as there was a lot of work ahead of her. And work she did — 18 hours a day, seven days a week.
But it wasn’t a smooth journey. One day in 2007, she was on the verge of exhaustion. This caused a major shift in how she viewed work. And she transformed into a strong proponent of work-life balance, and a workplace culture built around team-building skills and employee morale.
“Our leadership style at HuffPost is like being in the middle of the circle, rather than at the top of the mountain shouting down,” she once said in an interview.
Today we know that publication as the Huffington Post, a wildly successful and widely-read news website. In fact, AOL bought it in 2011 for $315 million.
As you can see, investing in team-building skills can lead to a big payoff for your organization in the long run. Team building is the essential ingredient that allows leaders to unite the whole workforce towards common goals and take the business forward.
That’s why in this post, we’ll give you a comprehensive rundown of team-building skills you need to foster healthy collaboration at work.
Team building is an integral part of today’s workplaces. Research shows that when leaders focus on the team’s strengths, profits increase by 14 to 29%, customer engagement rises by 3 to 7%, and employee engagement goes up by 9 to 15%.
But you can’t get to these benefits without the right skills, also known as team-building skills. Team-building skills are the qualities and competencies that help you build collaborative, organized, and highly productive teams.
Using these skills, you can help individual team members function as a united group where each participant is invested in the vision and direction of the team.
Difference between team building and teamwork skills
While we’re on the subject of team-building skills, it’s important to understand how they are different from teamwork skills.
Both these terms are often used interchangeably. And to be fair, there is some overlap between them. But they are not the same.
Team building is primarily concerned with how team leaders recruit, manage, and nurture workers and their collaboration with one another.
In contrast, teamwork skills focus more on the functioning of each team member. They are traits that help individual workers contribute as part of their teams.
Here are the key qualities that will help you build teams with positive relationships and accomplish great business outcomes.
You can’t build a dependable team without being a reliable team player yourself. The workers in your team should have trust that you’re available to guide them when needed. And when they do, they’ll reciprocate the same level of respect and commitment.
So lead by example. Cultivate the same attributes and attitudes within yourself that you want to see in your team. For example:
- Be mindful of how your words and actions affect the team.
- Take responsibility for your tasks.
- Receive feedback with positivity and grace.
- Offer to assist your team members when required.
- Participate actively in team meetings and activities.
Problem-solving is an integral part of any project. In fact, that’s what a project is. You’re solving a big problem by dividing it into small problems and creating a task for each small problem.
So as a team builder, you should have a good idea about how to tackle those problems.
Of course, you can’t be an expert in everything. That’s what your team members are for. But you should still have a basic understanding of what you’re asking your team to do. And you should know enough to suggest alternatives when your team members get stuck with problems.
Another aspect of this skill is facilitating problem-solving within your team. The beauty of teamwork is that you get many minds to put on each of the problems the team is trying to solve.
Any team member doesn’t have to struggle alone. And you can support every individual by brainstorming ideas and solutions as a group. After all, a team collectively shares responsibility for the end goal. So it’s only fair that they help one another with their individual responsibilities.
There are many other ways to put the skill of problem-solving into action. For example:
- Identify risks and potential issues before they turn into problems.
- Encourage every team member to speak up during brainstorming sessions.
- Suggest solutions but don’t solve workers’ problems for them.
- Don’t assume your way in the only way. Encourage independent thinking.
- Always remain open and accessible for employees to reach out with problems.
Receiving or giving feedback may not always be an enjoyable experience, but it is one of the essential team-building skills.
Without feedback, you and your team members have no way of knowing what can be done better and if something’s hindering the team’s progress.
So to build a winning team, you should encourage honest evaluation that gives everyone, including yourself, a chance to develop and learn from mistakes. Give your team members ample opportunities to provide and get constructive feedback.
And while you’re at it, make sure that your team sees feedback in a positive light, not as an attack or judgment. Here are some examples of how this skill looks in action:
- Conduct meetings and surveys dedicated to sharing feedback.
- Make sure feedback is focused on specific behaviors, not on the individual.
- Direct workers to avoid interrupting those giving feedback.
- Solicit anonymous feedback if it’s early for your team to fully trust one another.
With so many people, tasks, and moving parts in a team project, it can seem daunting to align everything in an organized way. But the ability to organize is one of the crucial team development skills.
Without proper organization, all the different tasks, schedules, and deadlines can fall apart and compromise the productivity of the team.
Develop a system that lets you and your team create, document, and follow efficient workflows. Having a single platform to share and access all the project-related material can help save time and facilitate communication.
Other examples of being a good organizer include:
- Label files and folders with descriptive names.
- Clearly assign roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators.
- Prepare checklists and templates for common tasks.
- Document processes for future reference and onboarding new team members.
When team members with different skills and perspectives come together, you get more ideas and angles to solve problems and increase efficiencies.
While this is better than working separately, the differences among employees can also lead to conflicts throughout a project. No wonder conflict-resolution is such an important team-building skill.
Many people have the misconception that great teams never go through any disagreements. But that’s not true. Successful teams don’t avoid conflicts. They just handle them effectively. And here’s how you can do the same.
- Start from the beginning and identify the main cause of the conflict.
- Consider other factors that may be contributing to the conflict.
- Examine and communicate the needs and interests of all parties involved.
- Agree on a middle ground or win-win outcome.
Picture this: You meet some old friends after a long time. All of you hop in your car to go on a trip. “Where should we go?” you ask. Nobody is saying anything, or they are all saying different things. Can you reach somewhere?
The same is happening in many businesses. Just 22% of employees strongly trust that the leaders in their company have a clear direction for the organization. And only 40% say that they have been clearly versed with their roles and duties.
If you want to get anywhere, all your team members need to agree on a primary goal, and their individual tasks and objectives should align with that main goal. That’s where proper delegation and goal setting come in, both for the whole team and for individual team members.
Sharing the workload among different team members and setting them up for success is crucial for team building. To get it right:
- Assign every team member a clear role with concrete goals.
- Divide responsibilities in a way that everyone contributes equally.
- Consider employees’ strengths and existing workload when assigning tasks.
- Communicate expectations and what a successful outcome looks like.
- Check-in regularly to stay updated on the progress of assigned tasks.
Without proper communication, your team is like a group of basketball players running around the playing area in blindfolds. Even if they do manage to score a goal, it’ll be purely by chance.
Similarly, failure to communicate can handicap your team. Effective communication is what makes it possible for you to:
- Motivate your team members and improve engagement
- Brainstorm new ideas
- Offer and get support and assistance
- Avoid duplicate work
- Keep everyone abreast of changes and progress updates
- Resolve conflicts
- And much more
So developing your communication skills and implementing proper communication in your team should be one of your top priorities. Here are some examples of steps you can take to do the same:
- Conduct regular one-on-one and group meetings.
- Set up the right communication channels for your team.
- Organize team-building activities that boost communication.
- Keep your communication material clear and concise.
- Celebrate and update the team on key milestones.
To quote Michael Jordan,” Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
A good team doesn’t get formed in a fortnight. Your team members may have the best talents and skills as individuals. But if they can’t join them together, they can’t achieve something bigger than themselves.
The team-building skills outlined above will help you turn your workers into a cohesive unit. As you invest in your own growth as a team builder, so will your teams.