What makes a work team effective?

Loads of research has been done to answer the question what makes a work team effective. Surprisingly, research is debunking the myth that a team either works or it doesn’t. It turns out effective team working is a skill that can be taught.

I’ll qualify that, you can teach what makes a work team effective but you can’t overcome a lack of capability or skills to do the job!

Have you recognised that your work team isn’t performing? It’s likely to be because they don’t have the right skills to work together effectively.

What can you do?

  • train your team members in how to work effectively in a team, or
  • recruit for those skills

Team working is a skill, a capability. It’s not an attitude or a personality trait. Yes, there are some people who are more naturally able to work effectively in a team. But, the skill can be learned, just like the technical skills to do the job.

What are the skills that you need to work effectively in a team?

Research shows that there are 4 capabilities for people to be effective working in teams. But the good news is you can train people to develop these capabilities

  • The ability to communicate effectively, to listen well, to ask appropriate questions.
  • Giving and receiving feedback, how to deliver feedback constructively and with care.
  • Working effectively with conflict, even re-naming “conflict” to something with a more positive image. Are you “developing understanding”? Are you “reaching agreement”?
  • Highly developed interpersonal skills. Having empathy, the ability to read body language and other non-verbal cues.

Team members need technical knowledge, they need to be be able do their job. So what makes a work team effective? Investing in, or recruiting for the skills to work effectively in teams.

Are team working skills taught in schools?

Not necessarily. A recent teacher’s survey by Education and Employers found that 92% of teachers who replied felt that communication and problem-solving skills were developed mainly through class work. However, on average only 47% of teachers felt that there were fewer opportunities to develop employability skills and competencies. They said this was due to changes in GCSEs and A-Levels. There is a new focus on rote learning as a detriment to developing the skills and attitudes needed for work.

Almost 1 in 4 young people (aged 17-23) don’t feel adequately prepared by their education for the world of work.

The CBI recommends to teachers that there are three pillars that will prepare young people for the modern world and getting them ‘work ready’ ;

  • Character – This helps young people to take responsibility for their own learning. It helps them make responsible choices in different situations.
  • Knowledge – This enables young people to gain mastery and subject-specific awareness in a variety of disciplines. This supports future career choices and interests.
  • Skills – Developing skills like leadership or creativity. This helps young people nurture their individual character traits, values and principles like empathy and self-awareness.

The challenge for employers is potentially that what schools are delivering doesn’t necessarily provide the skills training for making a work team effective. Because of this the onus for improving the skill level in the workplace will likely remain with the employer for some time yet.

If you’d like to know more about what makes a work team effective please

Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you

Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses.

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