We are already into Ramadan 2023 and, in this first real year of post-covid confidence, the celebrations are bigger than they have been for some years. During Ramadan, Muslims aim to grow spiritually and become closer to Allah and loved ones, reflect on self-conduct and relations with other people. So, this is a good opportunity to explore another of our recent themes – how we work well with others. In this blog post, we cover the essentials of productive teamwork and relationship building.
An essential set of skills
Working well with others - collaboration and teamwork - are absolutely essential to the success of any team or company. In today’s fast-paced work environment, working efficiently as a team is more important than ever, raising the soft skills involved in stature as we enter the age of AI and automation. Attaining these skills is now a very important aspect of your personal career growth and success. Below we’ve outlines what we feel are the 8 key aspects of working well with others.
1. Strong communication skills
Effective communication is the foundation of any successful working relationship. It is essential to communicate your thoughts, ideas, and expectations clearly and concisely to your colleagues. But, communication is multi-faceted, covering not only how you speak, but also your body language (even on Zoom) and how well you listen to others – known as ‘active listening’. Active listening shows respect for others’ opinions and helps to build trust and a strong rapport. It is important to ask questions and clarify information, and show empathy when necessary (see below for an expansion on empathy). As communication is usually done in writing, this also extends to how you compose emails, text messages, WhatsApp message and PowerPoint presentations. We can't over-emphasise the importance of communication skills - with many professionals arguing that delivery is usually even more important than the actual content; delivery can make or break any presentation, regardless on the quality of the content.
Working well with others requires a willingness to be a team player. This means being open to new and different ideas and point of view, cooperating with others, and working together to achieve common goals. Good team players are flexible and adaptable to change, show respect for others, take responsibility for their actions, and will be willing to step-in and help out if needed. Fundamental to the team playing approach is an understanding that for an individual to progress in their career, the whole team must progress. Therefore, strong collaboration breeds a healthy and stable working environment.
3. Trust, respect and accountability
Building trust and respect with your colleagues by being honest, reliable, and supportive is the way to build strong relationships. Accountability is a big part of this – meeting deadlines, being honest about mistakes, and following through on commitments. Another aspect is being personable. Getting to know colleagues on a personal level by enquiring about their interests, hobbies, and families is valuable, even if you’re not the after-work get-together type, and especially now so many people are working virtually and lack that daily in-person interaction. Take an interest in colleagues’ work and assist where possible, while celebrating successes together and learning from failures as a team. Also note that teams are generally stronger if they are more diverse - different backgrounds, experiences, and opinions. Respecting these differences while working towards a common goal is key to trust building. Avoid making assumptions or stereotypes about others based on their age, gender, race, or cultural background. Instead, be open-minded and inclusive, and value the diversity of the perspectives that others bring to the table. After all, there’s always another way to look at things from your own.
3. Conflict management
Conflicts are a natural part of any workplace environment, and it is essential to manage them effectively. When conflicts arise, calmly listen to all perspectives, and seek to understand the root cause of the issue. Avoid blame, and focus on finding a constructive solution that benefits everyone. The key is to be open to compromise and to find some common ground. We have a previous post dedicated to conflict resolution here.
4. Empathy and emotional intelligence
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others – putting yourself in their shoes and looking at things from their perspective. Emotional intelligence involves being aware of your own emotions and those of others and how these interplay. Having emotional intelligence is key in things like conflict resolution – where you can calm situations down by overcoming your own emotional responses, while empathy helps you to respect the opinions and perspectives of others.
5. Positive and proactive
A positive attitude can go a very long way in creating a healthy work environment. This includes supporting of others, celebrating those successes, and focusing on solutions instead of problems. As far as proactivity goes – be sure to seize opportunities to contribute to the team's goals, and take the lead when necessary. Be enthusiastic and a willing to learn new skills and to take on additional responsibilities when needed.
6. Set clear expectations
Setting clear expectations is essential for effective collaboration, especially from any kind of management perspective. Ensure that your colleagues understand your goals and objectives and the role they play, both as individuals and as a team, in achieving them. Clarify deadlines, deliverables, and expectations for communication. Regular check-ins ensure that everyone is on the same page. This not only makes team members feel utilised but also avoids the stress related to nebulous goals and an unclear purpose. It’s much easier to run through the tunnel when you can see the light at the end of it.
Finally, you’ll notice that a lot of these points overlap and feed into each other. For example, empathy helps you respect the opinions of others – which is also key in trust and respect building. And so, it is true that the more you practice each of these skills and approaches, the more they reinforce each other – which in turn tends to rub off on those around you, raising the game of the whole team.
We hope you found this post interesting and useful. And to all our Muslim colleagues, friends and associates, we wish you all Ramadan Mubarak.