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Improving your teamworking skills

Teamworking is a very important skill to be able to evidence to a potential employer. This guide provides you with details of the opportunities you could use to improve your teamworking skills.

The employers interviewed in the Standing out videos were in agreement; they need to work with people with whom they can quickly establish rapport. It is crucial to form positive working relationships with colleagues, not friendships in the first instance. Colleagues and clients expect to be treated with respect and that the person with whom they are working is approachable, an effective communicator and can be relied upon.

One person interviewed described how she had positioned herself so as to be the first person that colleagues thought of when a new project was being conceived. In this way she could take on new responsibilities and expand her skills and knowledge; in short she was able to stand out and make herself appear to be indispensable.

Importance of teamworking skills

Inter-personal skills and teamworking can be described as a series of behaviours and competences. These cannot be learnt from a textbook, but can be practiced and developed. This guide provides you with pointers that could improve your performance and suggestions of activities where you would have an opportunity to develop your inter-personal and teamworking skills.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) has found that the importance of teamworking has grown enormously in the workplace over the last thirty years, hence the emphasis on these attributes in person specifications. Employers are seeking staff who can, as well as fulfilling specialist roles, carry out a range of tasks within a team.

Teamwork is important in an operation of any size. Good inter-personal skills will enable you to establish positive working relationships with colleagues, business partners and clients - whether you are working for yourself, a large organisation or a small or medium enterprise.

Developing teamworking skills

Pointers for developing teamworking and inter-personal skills:

  • Make an effort to remember people’s names. Smile and be pleasant.
  • Avoid certain topics of conservation – politics, religion, personal finances.
  • Always show respect for people, regardless of their position in the organisation.
  • Offer to help others if you have completed your tasks. Find ways to resolve conflicts, look for solutions.
  • Greet colleagues the beginning of the day. Good manners are essential.
  • Check the organisation’s procedures and protocols for lunch-time, tea breaks. Volunteering to do the coffee run is always appreciated.
  • Never moan or complain unless circumstances dictate that you have to make a formal complaint.
  • Note the positive contributions that your colleagues make toward the tasks.
  • Chose your words and phrases carefully. Never interrupt people when they in mid-sentence.
  • Even if you are very miserable, don’t take you problems to work.
  • Respect other people’s differences. Try to see things from other colleagues’ points of view.
  • Never gossip or speak about colleagues in a negative way. Never show off or brag.
  • Dress appropriately for the task and occasion. Never be afraid to ask what the dress code is.
  • Keep your word. The motto of the London Stock Exchange is “Dictum Meum Pactum” (My word is my bond).
  • Be dependable. People need to trust you. Work very hard.
  • Do not over commit yourself it is important to be able to deliver on your promises.
  • Emotional Intelligence is a much sought after quality, so it is important to research this. See the links below.

Teamworking development opportunities

If you feel that teamworking is something in which you lack experience, take the advice from the graduates and professionals interviewed in the videos and get busy! It will take enthusiasm and commitment for you to get the most out of the experiences listed below, in fact just the attributes that the employers are seeking.

Sports teams

Whether you set up a team sport yourself or take part in an activity that has been organised by someone else, you would be playing a role in a team. Contact the UEL Students’ Union or UEL Director of Sport.

Music/drama/dance workshops

Performers or technicians may be required for shows and events. Contact local theatres such as Theatre Royal Stratford or the Hackney Empire. Contact UEL’s Institute for Performing Arts Development (IPAD).

Part-time employment

Contact the Spring Recruitment agency on the UEL Docklands Campus for vacancies, such as administrative or marketing assistants, student ambassador or student support work.

You can also search for vacancies using the UEL Job Search.

UEL Course representative

Contact the UEL Quality Assurance and Enhancement team; see their website for contact details. This role will involve you in holding meetings for colleagues on your programme, seeking their views and feeding back to them at university quality committees.

University-based community work

Contact the UEL multi-faith chaplaincy. They are currently supporting London Citizens; a community based movement similar to the one Barack Obama did his training in as a young man. See their website for details.

Set up a university society

One of the students interviewed on the video set up a Finance and Investment society. Is there a gap in the market at UEL that you could fill? Contact the UEL Students’ Union.

Meet local and international VIPs visiting the university

It could be that visiting academics, politicians or business people require guides and have requested to meet UEL students. Contact the UEL Marketing Team.

Be a student ambassador

This role will involve you in taking visitors on campus tours, talking to groups of potential students and promoting the university at events. Contact the UEL Educational and Community Partnerships team or Spring Recruitment.

Be a trustee of a charity or not-for-profit organisation

Being a trustee will involve you in working with people from a range of backgrounds and will help you to develop self-confidence.

Be a school governor

If you are a parent or someone with an interest in education and local communities, being a governor could be a rewarding experience.

School Governors' One-Stop Shop 

Fund raising and campaigning for charities

It may be possible to be involved in specific campaigns and this would provide you with opportunities to meet local politicians and to take part in local meetings. An example of a national organisation requiring volunteers is Shelter.

References

Goleman, D. (2010) Emotional Intelligence. Available at: http://danielgoleman.info/topics/emotional-intelligence/ (Accessed: November 2010).

Cannell, M. (2008) Emotional Intelligence. Available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/lrnanddev/selfdev/emotintel.htm (Accessed: November 2010).

Cannell, M. (2010) Teamworking. Available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/maneco/general/teamwork.htm (Accessed: November 2010).

If you can build relationships with clients, you’ll be better placed to solve their problems. And to spot and win new business opportunities. Establish good rapport and not only are clients more likely to come back to you again and again there’s also a bigger chance they’ll recommend you to other contacts.

Price Waterhouse Cooper Graduate Programme information on teamworking skills