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Teamwork – A Coveted Skill for Consultants

Teamwork.   It’s a skill most people have on their resume, but few truly embody.

Although every employer views teamwork as a needed skill, some professions depend on it more than others. 

In consulting particularly, the ability to work effectively and productively with others – whether it’s colleagues or clients – is one of the top consulting skills essential to achieving project success.

Recognizing Challenges Within a Team

In consulting, we need to work as a team to succeed.   This might sound easy to do, and for some, it is.  However, for a lot of consultants there’s always that one or two people with whom their personalities and styles just don’t mesh.  It could be a co-worker that they don’t get along with, a client who’s questioning them at every process change, or a boss who seems to always have it out for them… it seems to be an inescapable part of the professional landscape.

Being able to recognize these roadblocks to teamwork when they arise and addressing them effectively takes great skill.  When disagreements emerge between colleagues, for example, they are faced with two choices; either take the easy road out – ignore the situation and hope it goes away, or jump to confront – which often causes more harm than good to the team. 

It takes real teamwork skill to find the right solution, one that lies somewhere between ignoring and confronting.   

Knowing When to Listen…And When to Escalate

The first step in working together, especially when facing disagreements and adversity, is knowing how to listen – and knowing the difference between listening to hear and listening to respond. 

Listening to hear a team member allows you to understand the situation from their point of view, which can open your eyes to positions that you hadn’t considered, and can potentially change your own outlook on the situation.   It also works to keep all members of the team feeling engaged, valued, and respected.  By allowing open dialogue to then emerge, this alone can often solve a disagreement before it worsens.

If listening and dialogue didn’t lead to a solution, the next step is escalation.  Knowing when – and how – to escalate is extremely important.  Recognizing when input from someone outside the team, such as a manager or supervisor, may be needed to settle disagreements is a great example of teamwork skill.   While it may seem like appealing to a higher authority in cases of disagreement is antithetical to good collaboration, sometimes the best display of teamwork is the ability to step aside and ask for help for the sake of the team.

Teamwork Contributes to Success

Teamwork sometimes seems like a generic skill everyone puts on their resume, but to have an in-depth understanding of what that skill entails and to be able to action it can make a real difference to success in the workplace.  The fundamental driver behind a thriving team or a successful client relationship is strong teamwork.