Taking on teamwork

Taking on teamwork

This is a key employability skill – every employer wants to hire staff who are able to cooperate, solve problems and work as part of a team. These days organisations are much less hierarchical and there is more emphasis placed on working in project teams and self-managed work teams so the requirement is for those who can ‘Get on with people’, and to ‘Work with and through others.

Being able to work collaboratively with others from a wide range of backgrounds is a key requirement in most occupations. At interview or an assessment centre you need to be able to demonstrate convincingly that you have sufficient understanding and experience of working as part of a team.

Team Roles

There are a number of different roles that people adopt in team working – from leader, to thinker to doer. Different people play different roles within groups, and understanding these can be very useful. A group of friends meeting for socially will adopt differing roles –watch and see it at work.

For a good introduction to the type of roles people adopt in team read about Dr Meredith Belbin and his team who conducted research at Henley Business School. Belbin identified nine clusters of behaviour, termed Team Roles. Details are available on the official Belbin website www.belbin.com

Be a good team player

To be an effective team member, you need to be able to demonstrate a range of skills:

  • Listen
  • Question
  • Persuade
  • Participate – and sometimes lead

You need to show employers that you have teamworking skills and produce evidence to back your claim:

  • Think of situations where you worked co-operatively as a team member to achieve something. What did you do? What was the result? How did you interact with others on the project? What did you do to contribute towards creating a teamwork environment? Did you play a particular role within the team?
  • Think about a difficult challenge you have faced in trying to work co-operatively with other people. What was your role in enabling the project to move ahead? Was it successful? If not, why not?

Assess your place in the team


  • Where do you fit in? What is your role in groups?
  • Are you a player or an observer?
  • Do you cooperate with others, lead, follow, contribute, guide, advise or just watch?
  • Should you take a more active role?
  • Should you contribute more?
  • Do you have a dominant personality? If so – should you encourage others to contribute?

Good group work, effective committees and successful management teams are based on effective contributions from everyone. Where do you fit in? Cooperating with others is vital for every type of management task!

Teamwork is about working confidently in a group, contributing your ideas, sharing the responsibility, being assertive – rather than passive or aggressive, accepting and learning from constructive criticism and supplying positive, constructive feedback to others.

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