Objective

The purpose of this guide is to offer you some key insights into teamwork. Implementing these tips can make all of the difference in your ability to work together both in the classroom and in the workplace.

Student Learning Outcomes

After reading and participating in the activities in this guide you’ll:

  • Recognize what effective teamwork looks like.
  • Understand how to practice effective teamwork.
  • Value effective teamwork.
  • Learn how to take your teamwork experiences in the classroom and in life and use them to your advantage to further your career.
  • Understand your strengths and how they can impact a team.
  • Gain some ideas on tools to help make teamwork more effective.
  • Articulate what you’ve learned and reflect on what it means to be part of a team.

Why is teamwork so important?

  1. Because it’s an important life skill. Employers are looking for graduates who understand what effective teamwork looks like and how to work well with others. A survey of executives and hiring managers by Hart Research Associates (2018) for the American Association of Colleges and Universities shows that teamwork is one of the most desired skills by employers.

    Intellectual and Practical Skills Executives Hiring Managers
    Oral Communication 80% 90%
    Teamwork skills with diverse groups 77% 87%
    Written communication 79% 78%
    Critical thinking and analytic reasoning 78% 84%
    Complex problem solving 67% 75%
    Information literacy 73% 79%
    Innovation and creativity 61% 66%
    Technological skills 60% 73%
    Quantitative reasoning 54% 55%

    Note. Adapted from Fulfilling the American dream: Liberal education and the future of work, by Hart Research Associates & AAC&U, retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/leap/public-opinion-research. Copyright 2018 by AAC&U.

     

  2. As you look at the list above you may be thinking that effective teamwork encompasses all of the top five skills and probably more. Almost every job involves some form of teamwork. How you collaborate may differ from industry to industry, or class to class, but the fundamentals are the same. Globally the skill set that employers value is also very similar.
    Ability to effectively communicate orally 90%
    Ability to effectively work in teams 87%
    Can apply knowledge/skills to real-world settings 87%
    Ethical Judgement and decision-making 84%
    Ability to analyze and solve complex problems 75%

    Note. Adapted from Fulfilling the American dream: Liberal education and the future of work, by Hart Research Associates & AAC&U, retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/leap/public-opinion-research. Copyright 2018 by AAC&U.

     

  3. Employers want graduates who can apply the knowledge and skills that they have obtained in their courses and through other activities to their new career. You may have the knowledge, but employers want you to demonstrate that you know how to put that knowledge to work in the new position.
  4. Additionally, employers can determine that you have certain technical skills from your resume or portfolio, but they cannot always discern how well you communicate, collaborate, or think critically. These skills are typically conveyed in the interview.
Team holding hands
Almost 80% of executives and 87% of hiring managers surveyed say it’s very important that recent graduates demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings. Yet only 33% of executives and 39% of hiring managers surveyed think that recent graduates are well prepared in this area.

Note. Adapted from Fulfilling the American dream: Liberal education and the future of work, by Hart Research Associates & AAC&U, retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/leap/public-opinion-research. Copyright 2018 by AAC&U.

Testimonial

Ryan Hunt, Office of Communication, City of Arlington, shares his thoughts on how his office uses teamwork.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Teamwork: An Open Access Practical Guide by Andrew M. Clark, Lolin Martins-Crane, Mengqi Zhan, and Justin T. Dellinger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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