Teamwork has been labeled as a skill, competency, trait, characteristic, and many other things in the workplace. Most jobs require some sort of ability to get along well with others. Other jobs may seem to be okay to fill with mean people that aren’t fun to work with as long as they’re really smart. Research has shown that teamwork, as a competency, predicts work performance. That is, people that score high on a teamwork scale in a hiring assessment have shown to also perform well on the job.
In a meta-analysis (a study made up of many studies) conducted by Select International, they combined results from several validation studies over a variety of companies. They found a solid relationship between teamwork and job performance. When you combine teamwork with other competencies important to the job, that relationship gets even stronger.
If that isn’t enough evidence to at least start the discussion to adopt teamwork as a part of your hiring criteria, I’ve pulled together 4 additional reasons.
- Reduce Turnover
When two people in a marriage don’t get along with each other, they may file for divorce. I know we’re talking about business and not marriage but there are some valid parallels between the two. Unless you’re a one-person company, you must work with another person to accomplish organizational goals. You can think of the employee/employer relationship as an organizational marriage so to speak. There are many factors that come into play when looking at turnover, so any type of edge you can get to help combat turnover and reduce it, even by a little, you should.
Data gathered through employee exit interviews has shown that turnover has been caused, among other things, by:
- toxic company culture
- rude behavior
- poor management
- work environment
- negative relationships
A large part of these reasons can be remedied through individuals that understand how others would like to be treated and are good at working well with others. If your company uses teamwork for criteria in your selection process, you can expect to get better team players and foster an environment that will make people happy to be at work and less likely to turnover.
- Increase Communication
A big issue in the workplace is the lack of communication. Only 18% of employees get communication evaluation at performance reviews. People that score high on the teamwork scale tend to be good communicators. They aren’t afraid to ask a question, talk through a problem, or answer someone else’s question. One of Google’s most important cultural values is transparency from the top to the bottom. One reason why they are so successful is that they value open communication from the top to the bottom. Another vital Google culture point is voice. That is, the voice of all employees must have the chance to be heard. Again, this relates to open communication as well as a strong teamwork mentality. Hiring individuals that are great team workers will help your company to communicate better.
- Increase Productivity
There is an old proverb that dates back to the year 1546, “Two heads are better than one”. Meaning, two people have a better chance at solving a problem than one. I think there should be a follow-up to this Proverbs that states, “As long as those two heads aren’t fighting one another”. Putting employees together on a team is one thing, but putting employees that understand and value teamwork together on a team give you a much more powerful tool in any organization.
The workforce is continually changing. Many organizations are seeking to adapt to the generation coming into the workforce. Part of this adaptation is understanding how the new generation perceives teamwork. Younger employees support social tools for working together. 50% of millennials said that social network communication within their organization increased productivity while 40% of boomers and 46% of Gen x said the same. This trend is expected to increase as technology continues to advance. In order to increase productivity for the old and new generations, a growing awareness for teamwork in the hiring process is crucial.
- Better Management
In a survey by Fierce, Inc. they found 90% of respondents believed that decision-makers should seek out other opinions before making a final decision and 40% said leaders consistently fail to do just that. Leaders that don’t value collaboration as much will likely fall into this failing group. In the same survey, results showed that 97% of those surveyed believe the lack of alignment within a team directly impacts the outcome of any given task or project. Leaders who value teamwork are more likely to reach out to members of their team and understand team members’ strengths and weaknesses. A leader that understands strengths and weaknesses of the team members will be much more capable of aligning the team for the best chance of success for a given task or project. On the flip side, a manager that doesn’t invest time to get to know his or her team will have a difficult time assigning projects to maximize the team’s efficiency. A supervisor that can be transparent and communicate effectively with his or her team will minimize the time it takes to understand the project and clear up any confusion. It also gives more time to the team to be innovative and creative.
From a broader perspective, organizations invest a lot of time and effort in management. Whether an organization typically promotes from within or looks outside the company to fill management positions, keeping teamwork as a core competency in the selection process will produce better management for a long time to come. Those individuals that are high in teamwork are more often than not the same employees that are promoted to management positions. This is because they seek to understand others’ points of view and work well with their co-workers.
So if the meta-analytic evidence showing that teamwork is a strong predictor of work performance isn’t enough to convince you to add teamwork to your hiring criteria, consider how important turnover reduction, effective communication, productivity, and better management are to your organization. Workplace teams aren’t going away anytime soon. In order for your organization to succeed – find individuals that value, understand, and put into practice the skill of teamwork.
Trevor McGlochlin is a Research Analyst at Select International. He earned a Master of Science degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology. His areas of expertise include selection, employee turnover, organizational development, applied research, and statistical analyses. His analysis work is centered around validation, adverse impact, turnover analyses, assessment scoring, and other data analysis.