Are you struggling with adjusting from solo freelance work to a teamwork-based environment? If you have never worked in this kind of setting before, you might face some challenges in getting the team spirit right.
No reason to get stressed. Just like any other skill, collaborative work can be taught and mastered. Here’s all you need to know to become a better team player!
Are all freelancers solo workers? Though it may seem like freelancing is just yourself and your computer, there are plenty of opportunities that might require you to have team working skills. Most projects nowadays require multiple hands on deck, ensuring each member shares their part of professional expertise. Not to mention the natural pool of ideas. If you sometimes get stuck brainstorming… imagine what you could achieve with an effective team and their great ideas.
Teamwork skills will be worth adding to your CV and online portfolio, even if you’re not currently tasked with collaborative work. An experience like this proves you know how to communicate, delegate tasks, and share responsibilities. Working on a team can provide ground to practice your leadership skills – especially useful if you want to be a project manager or a virtual assistant.
Benefits of working in a team
Stanford psychological scientists claim that knowing you’re part of a team can increase your motivation and make your work more enjoyable. The conducted research proves that teamwork increases employee motivation and enjoyment, leading to high performance. According to the study, positive outcomes appear even if collaboration is just suggested.
The benefits of working with a team are endless. Collaborating with a group of skilled professionals promotes experience and knowledge sharing, creating an environment of productive brainstorming. When it comes to projects, two heads are better than one. Your teammates will not only work alongside you but will be a great source of creative ideas and healthy criticism.
Let’s not forget the most important benefit of teamwork… It’s just more fun! Collaborating means you get to know other people that share a similar goal or purpose, and who knows – they might one day become your friends. Secluded, “loner” freelance work can get boring and completely isolate you from the outside world, especially in the era of tedious Zoom calls and empty offices. Human beings are made to socialize, so treat teamwork as a chance not just to improve professionally but to get your healthy dose of water cooler chit-chat.
If you’re used to doing things alone and tackling all the decisions solo, joining a team can be quite a challenge. If you find yourself hesitant, we recommend starting by analyzing the source of your issues. A negative outcome towards teamwork is usually rooted in previous bad experiences, which may be the result of:
Bad project management – every team needs a leader to distribute the workload, assign the tasks, and ensure you’re all meeting the deadlines. Issues in this sphere are often a result of no assigned project manager. Make sure there is a team member responsible, or take the challenge yourself and practice your leadership skills.
Personality clashes – while everyone can learn how to become a better team member, not everyone should be one. If you have ever had the dubious pleasure of working with a grumpy naysayer, you know how demotivating it can be. While we can’t guarantee you will like all your team members, make sure you’re not the grinch of the group – treat everyone with respect and accept the same in return.
Inability to share responsibilities – learning how to share a goal and work together has to be rooted in the correct approach to teamwork. Remember there’s no “I” in the team, and don’t be scared to trust others with tasks or accept that there might be more than one way to do something right.
How to master your teamwork skills?
So what can you do to become a better team player? Here are a few of our tips:
It’s easy. Treat your team members like you want to be treated, giving them respect and creating an environment of psychological safety and trust. A good team is a group in which everybody should feel secure to take risks, make mistakes, and simply be human.
Find the shared purpose
When the success of the project lies in shared efforts, your team has a mutual mission. Remember what brought you all together, keep the goal in your vision and respect the power that comes from many perspectives.
Get to know your teammates
Getting to know your teammates will make collaboration less intimidating. Take some time to schedule a group coffee date and invest in team-building activities. It’s an opportunity to have some fun, and you might make new friends. If you like your team members, you will genuinely enjoy teamwork – it’s that easy.
Communicate your ideas
Don’t be afraid to speak up. Working in a team is great grounds for practicing your communication skills, which will surely prove useful in the future. Alongside communicating your ideas, learn to listen and value the input of other workers.
Give and receive feedback
Learning how to give and receive feedback is another quality and skill that a freelancer should have. No better way and place to practice it than during a shared project meeting. When giving feedback, remember to treat your team players as equals, noting that the true power of collaboration lies in the voice of professionals with just the right mix of skills and ideas.
Share the responsibility
The real secret of team effectiveness is shared responsibility. Experienced freelancers might find it hard to share and delegate tasks they would normally handle themselves, so work on trusting your teammates to deliver the project well. Shared responsibility means the whole team plays together, keeping the deadlines and tasks in mind.
Ask for help
Finding your task challenging? Ask for help! Knowledge and expertise sharing is precise what group work was invented for. It’s very likely that something you’re struggling with will come easy to someone else, or vice versa. Sharing the workload can also free your time and increase motivation, so don’t be scared to ask for help or a nudge in the right direction.
Say no when necessary
Even though you’re all working towards one goal, there are still micro tasks that each member of the team needs to do in person. Sometimes working in a team brings peer pressure, and it’s up to you to set your boundaries. It can happen that you’re asked to work on something that simply doesn’t fit your schedule – remember it’s alright to say no, as long as you’re keeping up with your designated duties.
Schedule quiet hours and downtime
This tip is especially useful if you’re a natural introvert. If you love your work and your team but still find socializing draining – make sure to take care of your own well-being. Schedule downtime after every meeting to gather your thoughts and recharge if possible. Take a short walk, listen to your favorite podcast, block your calendar with “quiet work” hours, and return to your team with fresh energy and new ideas.
Learn your strengths and weaknesses
According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, understanding who you are and embracing your personality will make your work more effective in every spectrum. This can also translate to the team setting – if you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you will become better at navigating collaborative tasks and projects.
Do you think you make a good team player? Or perhaps some areas need extra practice? We hope this article will help you gain a new approach to teamwork and strengthen your collaborative skills. Good luck!