Working Well on a Team: Types and Tips for Team Success

Updated February 28, 2023

In most workplaces, you'll likely need to work collaboratively with supervisors, colleagues and even clients. Knowing how to work as a team can help you be more productive at work, make a good impression on other people in your workplace and develop a reputation as a helpful employee.

In this article, we discuss why it is important to work as a team, how to tell whether a team is successful and how to work better as a team.

Why is it important to work as a team?

Many employers value diverse backgrounds and perspectives on their staff, so when you're part of a team, you'll probably work with a variety of people with different ideas and talents. These various perspectives can help you solve problems together that you may not be able to solve on your own. Working on a team can also increase general productivity and make work more interesting.

Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Types of teams

Just like there are many different types of people in the workplace, so too can there be different types of teams. The type of team you work with will probably be different based on your work, the roles of the people on the team and the work environment.

Here are some examples of types of teams you may encounter at work:

Task force

A task force is a type of team that meets a specific goal within a specific time frame. A task force often consists of individuals from within one department, but depending on the kind of problem, people from different departments might join the task force. For example, if a business wants to improve the integration of apprentices in their employee roster, they might form a task force to identify problems with their apprentice program, identify solutions and recommend a course of action.

Project team

Project teams are similar to task forces because they usually accomplish a specific goal. They are different from a task force, however, in that a project team is more likely to select individuals from various departments and backgrounds to meet that goal. Project teams might work on a task for a short period of time, like weeks or months, or they might collaborate for years.

A project team is also more likely to take actionable steps to make their ideas a reality. For example, a project team might have a specific goal to create a product for a client, so they would list the actions they need to take individually and as a team to deliver that product.

Self-managed team

Self-managed teams distribute leadership responsibility across all members. Self-managed teams can accomplish different kinds of tasks, such as planning and scheduling as well as logistical duties. A company might use a self-managed team to develop an innovative solution to a communication problem, for example, or to diversify a budgeting process.

Virtual team

Virtual teams collaborate remotely via phone, email, video call or chat platforms. A virtual team can accomplish many of the same kinds of goals that other teams do, but they often need to think creatively about the ways they communicate, collaborate and delegate work.

A virtual team might convene remotely to solve problems that arise in offices across multiple geographic locations. Virtual teams are also sometimes used to work on objectives that aren't necessarily place-based, such as solving technical problems and scaling digital products.

Cross-functional team

A cross-functional team specifically brings together people from various departments and across multiple organizational levels. The diverse individuals on a cross-functional team have different skills and strengths, making it easier to find creative resolutions to the problems they need to solve. For example, a cross-functional team with individuals from accounting, human resources and IT might work together to find ways to equip more remote employees with the equipment they need.

Determining team success

Since workplace teams have different goals, success often means something different from team to team. Usually, however, if a team is working together efficiently and productively, they are likely to find success.

Teams often define their own goals as well, so a team's success will depend on their own self-determined progress. A team might also adjust their goals based on information they gain during the process of working together. In this case, the specific criteria for success might change.

You might use the following questions to determine whether a particular team is working together well:

  • How effectively do team members communicate?

  • How likely are team members to address conflict productively?

  • How productively do team members self-regulate and report back to the team?

  • To what degree does the team capitalize on its members' individual strengths?

  • Does the team bring the business closer to accomplishing organization goals?

Related: What are the Pros and Cons of Group Work?

12 tips for working better as a team

Here are some tips to help your team find success:

1. Define team members' responsibilities

An effective team splits duties so that they can accomplish multiple tasks at the same time. Even if you have a specific job as part of a team, it is also important to stay flexible and positive if those responsibilities change.

2. Articulate the team's goals early and often

A team with a well-defined goal will probably feel more effective because they can measure their progress against that clear objective. It is also a good idea to frequently restate the team's end goal to make sure every team member is unified in their understanding of their aim.

3. Communicate efficiently and effectively

A diverse group of individuals can achieve their best work on a team when they communicate clearly with one another. Be sure to articulate your ideas in the clearest possible language, and listen carefully when your teammates communicate with you. Use efficient communication to build on one another's ideas.

4. Maximize each team member's contributions

When assigning group roles and delegating tasks, consider each group member's strengths. Giving each group member a set of duties that aligns with their strengths can ensure the best outcomes for the team as a whole.

5. Provide productive feedback

When working with a team, every member needs to know the relative status of their work. If you are in a leadership position on your team, provide positive feedback as well as constructive criticism to the members of your team. If you are a team member, take productive feedback into account when completing your tasks.

6. Delegate when necessary

One of the benefits of working as a team is the diffusion of responsibility across multiple individuals. Don't hesitate to clearly communicate when you need support to complete a task successfully or when you might need to delegate or trade duties with another team member.

7. Ask clarifying questions

If you encounter confusing instructions or uncertain objectives when working on a team, ask clarifying questions. Asking questions when you need additional information can save you and your team more work later in the process.

8. Trust your teammates

Working on a team usually means that many different kinds of expertise are available thanks to the variety of job types involved. Trusting your teammates to achieve a high level of success can encourage them to trust you as well, which in turn can help the whole team work more effectively.

9. Permit yourself to have fun

When you work as part of a team, you have an opportunity to interact and engage in ways you might not if you were working alone. When enjoyed professionally, humor can be one of the most beneficial elements of working on a team.

10. Show respect to team members

Some ways to show respect to fellow team members include practicing active listening, using positive language and asking questions related to their area of expertise. Showing respect in multiple ways can help cultivate a positive working environment on your team.

11. Celebrate your successes

When you work on a team, you might experience successes that you wouldn't have while working alone. Take a moment to celebrate your successes as a team, because coming together over mutual achievement can help develop closer, more productive working relationships.

Related: Six Tips for Effective Teamwork

12. Disagree when necessary

Disagreement is not necessarily a negative thing when you are working as part of a team. Healthy differences of opinion can help a team innovate and find creative ways to solve complicated problems. When working as part of a team, embracing the positive aspects of disagreement can not only help the team make progress but also demonstrate your skill as a communicator.

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