Here is our list of the most important team building skills.
Team building skills are capabilities that help leaders form interactive, supportive, and high-functioning teams. For example, problem solving, listening, and organizing are essential team building skills. The purpose of these skills is to support teamwork and team development.
These skills can be learned in team building books, by following team building examples, and by participating in team building games and team building problems.
This list includes:
- team building skills examples
- skills needed for team building
- team development skills
- team building soft skills
Alright, here is the list!
List of team building skills
From setting goals to matchmaking to organizing, here are key competencies that will help you form positive relationships and achieve great results.
1. Goal Setting & Role Assigning
I like to compare work projects with road trips. You hop in a car with four of your friends. You turn the ignition key. “Where are we going?!” you shout. Nobody says anything. Or, everybody starts shouting at the same time: the beach! the park! the zoo! Harry Styles’ house! Either way, none of you are leaving the driveway until everybody decides.
When managing a team, the project is the vehicle and your destination is an excellent result for the company. In order to get anywhere, everyone has to agree on an endpoint. As team leader, it is your responsibility to define a goal and map out a way to get everyone there.
How to set goals:
- Start with a result and work backwards
- Be specific
- Choose measurable targets
- Set deadlines
- Track progress
- Stay flexible
- Discuss everything. Make all roles and goals public
Just like a successful road trip organizer designates a person to bring snacks, make a sweet mix of tunes, and check the air in the tires, a team leader assigns everyone a clear role. Choose an end goal for the whole team, but also specific goals for each team member.
You can make sure everyone knows and understands assigned responsibilities before you get going. The last things you want to hear mid-journey are, “I didn’t do that. I thought you were doing that?” or “Why are you doing that? I already did it.” Having clear roles and a clear end point in mind avoids confusion and increases harmony. Set the course, make sure everyone gets a seat, and enjoy the journey!
Learn more about company goal setting.
I hope that one day, someone will invent a mind-reading software that instantly transmits one person’s thoughts to the rest of the group. Until then, communication skills are king when team building is concerned.
I equate poor team communication to a sports team trying to score a goal while running around the field in blindfolds. In this scenario, players scramble all over the field, hoping to get lucky and get the ball over the line or into the net by pure chance. If the participants did manage to score, then the players might be oblivious.
Similarly, when teammates fail to talk, team members handicap the group as a whole. Teamwork means every member contributes towards a common goal. Collaboration cannot occur if one part of the group has no idea what the other part is working on.
Teams should be able to communicate the following:
Group members depend on each other. If team members do not clearly communicate, then teammates can hold up other parts of the team and make extra work for the others.
Working in a team means there are other people to bounce ideas off of and ask for help. If team members fail to communicate, then the team loses out on valuable teamwork benefits.
To encourage group communication, you can host regular meetings, create team channels, and use team building activities to build trust and sharing skills. For example, fun icebreaker questions can be a great way to connect with coworkers.
Here is a list of books to improve communication skills, and list of ways to do trust building at work.
Listening is one of the greatest team building skills you can develop. Talking and listening are equally important team traits. Without listening skills, teams just make a lot of noise, resembling a room full of vuvuzelas instead of a polished symphony.
How to practice active listening:
- Be conscious of how much you are talking
- Break the habit of interrupting
- Repeat & paraphrase ideas to teammates
- Ask for clarification
- Ask follow up questions
- Learn to listen “between the lines.” Pay attention to what is unsaid.
Lack of listening can lead to frustration. Employees who feel as if colleagues and leaders do not listen are likely to shut down. By acknowledging ideas and making efforts to understand, you can avoid later conflict.
To sharpen your team’s listening skills, you can play listening-centered team building games such as “Can you hear me now?” Also, be sure to step in and model good listening behaviors during meetings when others are focusing too much on talking.
Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Thus, you cannot know your team if you do not know yourself.
When working in a team, you can take stock of your own strengths and weaknesses and learn to be honest about your missteps. While you do not have to broadcast your flaws, you should not hide or deny these defects. Leaders who try to minimize personal shortcomings while pointing out coworkers’ mistakes are hypocrites. No one wants to listen to criticism from a stubborn or defensive teammate. Instead, you can remain humble and open to reasonable critique. When you give feedback, you can let your own faults inspire empathy for others.
Individual self-awareness is important, but teams should be collectively self-aware. Just as you analyze yourself as part of the team, you can analyze the team as a whole. All teammates should take time to reflect on the team’s strengths and weaknesses. The group can re-evaluate capabilities whenever new members join the team. At the start of projects you can take stock of the team’s abilities and let your group awareness guide your work. At projects’ end, you can reflect on group achievements and brainstorm possible improvements.
Self-aware teams act with more integrity and speak more openly. Reflective teams are better equipped to avoid conflicts and reach compromises. Honest group assessment results in faster and more effective work and friendlier, more trusting team dynamics.
I think that a great team leader is like a great cocktail host. Both hosts and leaders are expert connection-makers. If party hosts never introduced guests or encouraged attendees to mingle, then the party would get pretty boring. If a leader never fostered relationships between team members, then projects would fail.
The great host or team leader avoids this fate by planning talking topics, activities, and games that connect people. You can ensure team members have alternative support by fostering team bonds.
Matchmaking is one of the most essential interpersonal skills for team builders. A true master recognizes skills, traits, and patterns within teams, and links members together in winning combinations.
You may say, “That sounds like a lot of pressure. I’m no coworker cupid!” Relax. If you and your team are struggling to make connections, then you can use ice breakers to uncover similarities. Playing team building games is a great way to get teams to interact and find common ground.
Here is a list of connection games to play and here is a list of relationship building ideas.
6. Problem Solving
Teamwork skills focus on a group’s ability to achieve collective goals. Problem solving is an especially important teamwork skill. In the group setting, problem solving means discussing issues and brainstorming resolutions as a team.
When teams unite to tackle challenges, no one person bears the burden alone. All group members analyze a problem and propose solutions. Though one teammate may be tempted to take the reins and clean up the mess solo, teams should decide a course of action collectively. Team members share responsibility for the end result. It is only fair that everyone agrees upon a course of action.
Working together requires a lot of trust. Individual workers should know to reach out to the team for help.
Teamwork means being able to tap in to different skills and perspectives. There is no reason for a team member to struggle alone. A team is a great resource and support system. Encourage team members to brainstorm together. You can create a welcoming environment for questions and concerns and plan team building challenges to get teams used to solving problems as a group.
Here is a list of problem solving games to try, list of problem solving books to read, and you can also do team building puzzles.
Delegating is a true collaboration skill. I have worked with many people who struggled to delegate. When I was a waitress, one of the cooks sprinted across the kitchen any time she saw me pouring my own salad dressing, shouting “let me do it!” I had an office coworker who let her inbox pile up every single day, until I asked at 4PM “would you like me to help with that?” On the flip side of it, one coworker asked me to take on tasks because she was too busy, only to immediately wander off and chat with other coworkers when I agreed.
Luckily, in these situations, managers stepped in to encourage a more equal workflow. In my coworkers’ defense, delegating is tricky. Some people take on too many responsibilities, while the opportunity to take it easy tempts others. A good leader steps in and makes sure everyone pulls equal weight. A great leader teaches teams to self-delegate.
You can delegate effectively by putting the group at the center of all tasks. I recommend explaining to all team members that individual actions affect the team at large. You can remind the work hogs that overextending could result in burnout, delays, and missed learning opportunities for other members of the team. Meanwhile, you can express to the work dodgers that the team depends on individual efforts.
You should assess team members’ skills and current workloads and assign tasks accordingly. You can allow team members some flexibility to claim projects. Discuss the workload as a group, and let team members divide the work evenly among the group. Be transparent about goals and expectations from the start.
Learn more about delating with skills for executives, and skills for leadership roles.
8. Giving & Getting Feedback
During my college writing workshop classes, the person sharing a piece was not allowed to speak until the workshop ended. Other classmates gave advice while the author stayed completely silent. This dynamic forced the writer to listen to and reflect on the feedback instead of forming an immediate comeback. This exercise did wonders for my ability to give and get workplace feedback.
Receiving feedback is not always a pleasant experience, but it is an essential one. We might not want to hear that we messed up or could do better, but we would not want to unknowingly annoy or hinder our team either. Honest evaluation gives us a chance to improve and grow, both as an individual and as a team member.
Giving and getting feedback allows us to mindfully design our perfect teams. As a team leader, you should encourage feedback. Instruct employees not to interrupt others giving feedback. Be certain to frame feedback as an opportunity to grow, not a judgment. Make sure everyone on the team has equal opportunities to give and receive feedback. If your team is still developing each other’s trust and is not yet ready to speak candidly, then you can always solicit anonymous feedback and deliver it to each employee in a tactful way.
At times, leading a team can feel like herding cats. There are so many people and moving parts involved in a single project, that it can seem like an impossible task to get everybody on the same page.
Organizational skills are vital team building skills. Team members have different tasks, deadlines, and schedules, and things can easily fall by the wayside if nobody takes the reins.
When team building, take advantage of all the ordering tools at your disposal. Calendars are great coordinating tools. Thanks to cloud-based programs like Google Calendar, you can easily see your whole team’s calendar in a glance instead of trying to plan a meeting with one hundred phone calls or emails. Other tools like Slack and Trello are great ways to communicate and delegate tasks within teams.
Whatever structure you use, be sure to develop a system and stick to it. Communicate the system to the rest of the team so that everyone knows where to post and look for relevant information. Organizing may seem like an overwhelming task initially, but it will make the whole process much smoother and create a pleasanter experience for everyone on the team.
You can read project management books to improve this skill.
10. Resolving Conflict
If you follow the tips on the list, then chances are you are going to avoid a whole lot of friction. But sometimes, conflict is unavoidable. Thus, resolving conflict is still a necessary team building skill.
Disagreement is not always a bad thing. It often means your team is passionate and able to consider different angles. This perspective can lead to stronger and more well-informed results, but only if teammates can see eye to eye.
To resolve conflict, follow these the American Management Association’s five steps to conflict resolution:
- Identify the root of the conflict.
- Consider other contributing factors.
- Brainstorm solutions.
- Examine all parties’ needs/Compromise.
- Agree on an outcome.
Many people think that great teams always agree, but that is not the case. Even the closest-knit teams occasionally differ. What makes these teams great is not avoiding conflict altogether, but handling it effectively when it arises.
Here is a list of activities to help resolve conflict and a list of books on conflict resolution.
Capable and creative teams all start with skilful leaders. This list includes just some of the skills for team building required to create fun and functional teams. Keep adding to your knowledge and you will start to see results.
Confident, competent, and considerate leaders impress colleagues and inspire teams to excel. Keep improving, and your teams are sure to improve too!
Next, check out our list of team building benefits, our summary of team building history, and this post on team building management.
We also have a list of the best tools for team building.