The development of solid teamwork skills is essential to success in any career field. Whether we admit it or not, groups are generally more effective than individuals because they allow us to pool our best resources and assign tasks to the most qualified people. It is often the failure of individuals that leads to group failures. Here are three tips to help you succeed as both a team member and a team leader.

Build Communication Skills

Communication is an essential skill in any group environment. You could be the smartest person in the room but you will be rendered entirely ineffective if you are unable to articulate your ideas. Successful communication involves both sending and receiving relevant information. Even the most articulate people can be unsuccessful communicators if they fail to listen to others’ feedback and learn to convey relevant information. To promote better group communication, ensure that you speak openly and honestly, listen carefully to others, and learn to express yourself in a non-inflammatory way. Often the delivery is as important as the content.

Cultivate a Healthy Group Climate

There are several steps to ensure that the group climate remains professional and productive. First, members must learn to respect each other, regardless of rank or standing. Every member has a role that is vital to the group’s objectives. Instead of assigning blame, focus on improvements that can be made. However, an essential part of respect is ensuring that members are never offensive or engage in inappropriate behavior that is detrimental to the group’s objectives. A healthy group environment cultivates a sense of cohesion that allows members to feel more comfortable sharing new ideas without fear of negative criticism from colleagues.

Develop an Effective System

Even groups with excellent communication skills and the healthiest climates are incapable of producing results without effective systems. Without systems in place, there is little left to distinguish working groups from social clubs. To avoid wasting countless hours, ensure each member knows his or her role. This eliminates redundancy and allows people the autonomy to do their best work. Members must also be held accountable through the establishment of strict deadlines. These suggestions are more easily implemented by group leaders but members can become involved by providing constructive criticism and feedback as to the effectiveness of the process.

Use these suggestions to analyze your own interaction and teamwork skills to determine which general area you can improve.