11 Essential team building skills for better performance

three colleagues kayaking in sync with a cute dog at the front as team building

In 2023, 80% of employees and employers say that building a sense of community at work is crucial.¹ However, while organizations acknowledge the importance of team harmony and cohesion, the current professional landscape makes this challenging to sustain.

In fact, while team spirit matters more than ever, tighter budgets and disparate workplaces threaten to drive teams apart.

The good news is that by understanding the key skills that create resilient and strong teams, you can achieve better alignment and, in doing so, improve engagement, well-being, and efficiency at both an individual and organizational level.

Whether you're a coach, a leader, or your organization's designated team builder, read on to learn about the skills that strengthen these positive relationships.

Plus, discover how you can use Fingerprint for Success (F4S) to embed these values into your company culture.

Table of contents
What are team-building skills?
What are examples of team-building skills?
How to develop team-building skills
Get coached
Run a team-building workshop

What are team-building skills?

Team building is the process of developing teams to become more cooperative, cohesive, and efficient as they work towards common goals. This usually involves a series of steps to define roles and expectations, foster understanding, and improve communication and collaboration.

What is the difference between team-building activities and team-building skills?

When you think about team building, chances are, you envision a group of coworkers playing the 'trust fall' game at a corporate retreat. While this is one example of a team-building activity, it's certainly not the only one.

These initiatives range from interactive games such as scavenger hunts, escape rooms, remote book clubs, and virtual trivia, to structured workshops that foster conversation around team motivations.

On the other hand, team-building refers to the core competencies that allow individuals to function as a cohesive unit. This includes communication, conflict resolution, active listening, and the ability to provide constructive criticism. Team building activities are a way to build these skills, which we'll explore further below.

What are examples of team-building skills?

Just like the people within them, no two teams are exactly alike. Effective teamwork looks different in every organization. For example, in a fast-growing startup, the ability to bounce around lots of creative ideas might be crucial. Meanwhile, in a commission-based sales environment, a healthy sense of competition can be advantageous.

At F4S, we have been researching what creates successful teams and organizations for more than two decades. This has revealed some key soft skills (non-technical, interpersonal skills) that many high-performing teams have in common. Some examples of teamwork skills include:

Motivation

It likely comes as no surprise that motivated teams are productive teams. Research shows that highly engaged teams increase business profitability by 21%, and are 59% less likely to burn out.² However, it's crucial to note that motivation isn't one-size-fits-all. While one employee might be energized through the exchange of ideas, others might be more motivated by taking sole responsibility for a project task. F4S' work styles assessment measures the 48 traits that influence motivation, so you can better understand and cater to your team members' unique drives.

Delegation

The ability to delegate tasks is essential, to ensure projects get completed on time and within budget. After all, as the expression goes, many hands make light work! This is a particularly crucial team-building skill for those in leadership roles, as delegating some of those hands-on tasks frees up time for strategic, big-picture thinking. Not only that, but research shows that trusting employees with these tasks ignites a greater sense of purpose, and facilitates a better feedback culture in an organization.³

Giving and receiving feedback

Speaking of feedback, research shows that this is a powerful tool to drive team learning, and in turn, improve performance.⁴ Organizations with a strong two-way feedback culture (meaning, leaders can provide employees with constructive feedback and vice versa) tend to foster greater psychological safety, which is essential for thriving teams. It's important that these lines of communication stay open at all times, not just during annual or performance reviews. This means holding regular meetings with the intended purpose of checking in.

Effective team communication

Research shows that strong communication skills are one of the greatest predictors of team success. The daily interactions within a team are crucial for relationship building, as well as ensuring project goals are achieved. This becomes even more important in remote teams, as virtual meetings and online messaging can make it more challenging to decipher nuances in communication (although, F4S' new Zoom integration makes this far easier). Everyone communicates differently, and by understanding these preferences, you can ensure all these ideas, concerns, and questions are heard.

F4S zoom integration add emojis based on your learning style
F4S Zoom integration

Goal setting and role assignment

Unclear expectations are one of the most common sources of miscommunication and conflict at work. When it comes to working on team projects, it's essential that everyone understands what they're working towards and why. It's also important to define each team member's role within a project. This enables employees to take greater ownership and responsibility for their part of the metaphorical pie and prevents them from stepping on anyone else's toes.

Empathy

The ability to step into someone's shoes and understand how they're feeling is worth its weight in gold. Emotional intelligence (EQ) fosters better relationships in teams, as it prevents negative judgments and miscommunications. Empathy is often voted as the most essential leadership skill, as it has a direct impact on employees feeling seen, heard, and understood at work.⁵ However, it's challenging to empathize with someone, if you're not aware of their experience. F4S fosters this awareness, by bringing employee's inner motivations and preferences to the surface.

F4S dashboard shows how team members rank in motivation
F4S team dashboard

Critical thinking

In close-knit teams, it's easy to succumb to groupthink, especially if you have certain members who are particularly influential communicators. This is the phenomenon wherein team members feel compelled to reach a consensus on a decision to preserve harmony in the group, rather than considering other viewpoints. However, research shows that this leads to poorer decision-making outcomes, and can create resentment in the team.⁶ This is where critical thinking proves essential. It's important to foster an environment where all team members feel safe and able to challenge perspectives, in a respectful and productive way.

Time management and organization

There are no two ways about it, with so many demanding priorities in the workplace, time management skills are vital for getting things done. While everyone has different preferences about how they manage their time and workflow, incompatibilities in this area can breed frustration in teams. For example, you may have certain team members who are structured and methodical, while others need the pressure of a deadline to get things done at the last minute. Consider using F4S' free assessment report to illuminate these strengths and preferences, and designate responsibilities accordingly (for example, some team members may be better initiators, while others prefer to wait and reflect). It's also important to set plenty of smaller deadlines and milestones around your project, to ensure nobody is left behind.

Accelerate understanding between teams

Breadth

An illustration of a woman holding a circle object on her hand.

Motivated by macro big picture thinking, these teammates value moving quickly to connect dots between abstract ideas to 'get the gist' of things.

Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

vs

Depth

An illustration of a woman holding and using a protractor on her right hand.

These teammates value being concrete and specific, getting into details to understand the steps or tasks required.

Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

See the different work styles in your team

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Resolving conflict

The reality of working with many different personalities, motivations, and communication styles is that problems will inevitably arise. There's no such thing as the 'perfect' team, and it’s unrealistic to expect things to be smooth sailing all the time. However, what makes a team effective is how quickly and efficiently it can resolve conflict. This means being proactive about identifying potential roadblocks bubbling under the surface before they turn into bigger problems. It also means having processes in place for working through these, so nobody feels blind-sided if an issue is raised. The Team Culture tools in the F4S platform can help you identify these possible areas of friction ahead of time.

this team culture is tolerant and inclusive
F4S team culture map

Trust

There's a good reason so many team-building activities are oriented around trust, it's the glue that holds high-functioning teams together. In the context of a workplace, trust is a belief that your fellow team members have good intentions, and will follow through when they say they will. Research shows that trust has a significant impact on information processing, attitudes, and performance in teams.7 This effect is only compounded in virtual teams, where there is more uncertainty to navigate. Whether you have an in-person, remote, or hybrid work environment, making the time to get to know your team members will build this rapport.

Collaboration

In an ever-changing work environment, team collaboration is more important than ever. Research shows that collaborative teams are 50% more effective at completing tasks than those who work independently and have higher levels of engagement and satisfaction.⁸ This is likely because it brings together a multitude of different perspectives, which tends to lead to more innovative ideas and solutions. Healthy collaboration can be thought of as a big picture skill, in that it requires a culmination of many of the other competencies that have already been mentioned, including trust, communication, critical thinking, and empathy.

How to develop team-building skills

The first step towards building teamwork skills is taking F4S' work styles assessment. This questionnaire is more than 90% accurate and captures 48 traits that influence what energizes and drives your team at work. As well as gaining insights into your team's individual motivation and blind spots, you'll also receive a 'team culture' report.

This gives you a birds-eye view of how each employee's motivations stack up against each other and the overall 'feel' of the team. It also provides a snapshot into affinities (areas of convergence you can leverage to achieve better harmony) and potential areas of friction that could create issues down the track.

this team affinity is related to being experimental and active
F4S team affinity

Armed with this information, there are various pathways you can take to work on these team-building skills.

Get coached

Based on gaps identified in your team, our AI-based coach Marlee will suggest targeted coaching programs for your employees. These include:

Personal Power

Effective teams require strong leaders. Whether it's a new manager, team leader, or department head, this coaching program empowers individuals to step into leadership positions with confidence. Not only does it positively reframe what it means to be 'powerful' in the workplace, but it equips them with key skills including influential communication, stakeholder management, and executive presence.

Reflection & Patience

You may have team members who are excellent at taking action, but a little hasty in their dealings with more detail-oriented coworkers. This is the perfect coaching program to encourage these individuals to take a step back and reflect, before moving forward with intention. As well as developing key self-awareness and mindfulness skills, it teaches how to use strategy documentation, feedback and retros, to more effectively get others on board with their ideas.

Increase EQ

Strong EQ (emotional intelligence) is at the core of what it means to be a great team player. This coaching program helps employees develop the valuable skill of 'reading people' and understanding the emotions that drive behavior in the workplace. It also teaches effective communication skills, such as how to convey a message with body language, voice, and facial expressions.

Goal Catcher

The ability to set, communicate, and inspire others to work towards goals is one of the most crucial team skills. This profound coaching program guides individual employees to set an inspiring vision, and to break this down into tangible goals and targets. It also teaches how to communicate these plans to others (whether it's larger company goals, or department-specific projects) and motivates the team to stay on track.

Multiply Your Impact

Some highly intelligent and motivated employees prefer to fly solo, but, as the expression goes, no one is an island! This coaching program guides more solitary team members to expand their influence at work by harnessing the potential in others. Throughout the program, Coach Marlee teaches how to build an open-minded, experimentation culture through the art of giving and receiving feedback.

Team Building

Looking for a team building activity that is guaranteed to foster greater awareness, understanding, and collaboration? Designed to be taken by your entire team, this coaching program guides you to become a tighter-knit unit over the course of 9 weeks.

In just 2, 5-15 virtual sessions per week, your team will learn to celebrate complementary strengths, overcome blindspots, reach faster decisions, improve communication, boost productivity, and more. This program also guides you to set and define your united mission or 'big why', and to work consistently towards it without burning out.

Run a team-building workshop

Another effective way to strengthen your team is to hold a team dynamics workshop. This is a designated time for your team to down tools and get to know each other on a deeper level. As well as enhancing your understanding of what makes your team members tick, it's a great opportunity to reflect on what's working (and what's not) and set goals for the quarter or year ahead.

In preparation for your workshop, it’s a good idea to ensure everyone has taken the F4S work styles assessment. Also consider setting everyone on the same culture in Profile setting, so that you have a baseline for a high-performing team to work towards. You may choose to print out physical copies of the results or access them digitally. Either way, the data acts as an excellent starting point that will allow you to visualize dynamics, similarities, and differences within your team.

Read our full, step-by-step guide to running a team dynamics workshop.

Start developing key team-building skills with F4S today

It's no secret that happy and harmonious teams are more creative, productive, and efficient. However, what's perhaps even more profound is the impact this has on individual employees. Research shows that organizations with a strong team culture see better employee engagement and satisfaction, and lower turnover rates.⁹ Everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive at work, and this begins with creating a culture where individual differences are celebrated. Your F4S journey begins with taking the work styles assessment as an individual. You'll likely be surprised by how much you learn about yourself! Once you have received your individual results, you can set up your team dashboard and invite team members with a handy link. As your teammates take the assessment, you'll see the dashboard populate with data about your team's motivations, work styles, and overall culture. Armed with these insights, you'll have everything you need to take your team from underperforming to unstoppable.

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1. Fadiloglulari, Y. (2023). 2023 Team Building Statistics: Culture, Effectiveness & Trends. Gomada. https://www.gomada.co/blog/team-building-statistics

2. TeamStage. (2023). Motivation Statistics: Numbers in 2023. https://teamstage.io/motivation-statistics/

3. Zhang, X., Qian, J., Wang, B., Jin, Z., Wang, J., & Wang, Y. (2017). Leaders’ Behaviors Matter: The Role of Delegation in Promoting Employees’ Feedback-Seeking Behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00920

4. Gabelica, C., Van Den Bossche, P., Segers, M., & Gijselaers, W. (2012). Feedback, a powerful lever in teams: A review. Educational Research Review, 7(2), 123–144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2011.11.003

5. The Centre For Creative Leadership (2020)The Importance of Empathy in the Workplace https://www.thrivehrexchange.com/insights/the-importance-of-empathy-in-the-workplace

6. Lee, Y. (2023). Groupthink as a System of the Decision Making Process. https://wp.nyu.edu/steinhardt-appsych_opus/groupthink/

7. Breuer, C., Hüffmeier, J., Hibben, F., & Hertel, G. (2019). Trust in teams: A taxonomy of perceived trustworthiness factors and risk-taking behaviors in face-to-face and virtual teams. Human Relations, 73(1), 3–34. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726718818721

8. Pleasant, R. (2022). Essential Team Collaboration Statistics for 2023. UC Today. https://www.uctoday.com/collaboration/team-collaboration-statistics/

9. DeSmet, A. (2022). It’s not about the office, it’s about belonging. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/the-organization-blog/its-not-about-the-office-its-about-belonging

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