Verified by World Mental Healthcare Association

Teamwork is a collaborative or joint effort by a group of people who work together interdependently with each other and share responsibilities to achieve a common aim, goal, or objective.

Teamwork – An Overview

Teamwork in simpler terms is understood as the willingness of a team or group of individuals who work together to achieve a shared or common purpose. The concept of teamwork is often described within a greater framework called a team. However, the term is not exclusive to teams and there is evidence of teamwork being present in other settings where people might stay together for a short period of time to achieve a certain objective. The individuals concerned here work in an interdependent manner, make individual contributions and collaborate to achieve a common goal.

A 2019 study 1 defines teamwork as “a process that describes interactions among team members who combine collective resources to resolve task demands.” The study also notes that teamwork is different from taskwork, which is defined 2 as “what it is that teams are doing”, whereas teamwork is “how they are doing it with each other.” It goes on to explain that teamwork is a “range of interactive and interdependent behavioral processes among team members that convert team inputs into outcomes.” Here team inputs can be classified into key processes which make up the culture of a team like member characteristics, organizational funding and team member composition. The outcome may be factors like team performance, team member satisfaction and progress or completion with their work.

The above studies suggest that teamwork is based on a positive atmosphere of mutual trust and support, where people work together cohesively and have good inter-group relations with one another. Strengths and skills of each member are valued, people are free to express their opinions and progress and challenges here are seen as a part of it.

Psychological Theories On Teamwork

There are different psychological perspectives on how and why teamwork works. However, most of them focus on understanding group dynamics and how teamwork takes place. Some of the different psychological theories are as follows:

1. Bruce Tuckman’s Model

This is one of the most widely accepted theories that has been applied in numerous team settings and organizations. The theory 3 states that team building takes place through four stages known as forming, storming, norming and performing. This theory is also considered to be the origin for a successful team and team building. We shall be discussing this theory in detail further down below.

2. Belbin’s Theory

This theory 4 deals with a list of nine roles that is assigned to every member of a team in order to achieve optimum team performance. They are Plant, Coordinator, Resource Investigator, Monitor Evaluator, Shaper, Implementer, Team Worker, Specialist and Completer – Finisher.

3. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory

This theory 5 deals with a pyramid of motivation in humans which enables them to work and produce results in an optimal manner. The bottom of the pyramid starts with psychological items such as food. The next is safety, then love or a sense of belonging followed by esteem and finally self-actualization.

4. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator 6 can be used to determine the personalities of each individual team member and their characteristics. This can be beneficial for team building as it can help team members understand one another better.

Read More About Myers-Briggs Here

Characteristics Of Teamwork

characteristics of temwork

A 2001 study on behavioral sciences found out that there are four key behavioral characteristics or processes that compose teamwork. They play a critical part in team building and monitor team performance and behavior. They are as follows:

1. Performance monitoring

This is the first requirement of teamwork and requires that the members closely monitor each other’s performance while carrying out their own tasks at the same time. This ensures that all members are following the correct procedures and working in a timely manner. It also helps to ensure that all operations work as expected. The team performance is improved and trust is built among all the members.

2. Feedback

This is a follow up activity to the above step where feedback on the effectiveness of performance is conveyed to members who are being monitored. Team members should provide feedback to others members in a positive manner where no rank tenure should be present between individuals giving or receiving the feedback.

3. Closed loop communication

Teamwork requires effective communication between the sender and the receiver. Closed loop communication helps to describe the exchange of information that occurs in a successful communication. There is a behavioral sequence that is involved here where the sender initiates the message, the receiver accepts it and provides a feedback to indicate that it has been received, and the sender cross checks with the receiver to ensure that the message was received.

4. Back-up behavior

This behavior involves the liking, preparedness and willingness to back team members during team operations when, and as required for effective teamwork. This essentially translates down to team members helping other members and also accepting help when, and as needed.

How Teams Develop

Bruce Truckman developed a model 7 for team development in 1995, which is known as a foundation for effective team building. He suggested that teams go through stages that are clearly defined. The four stages from which groups evolve into teams are:

1. Forming

This is the initial stage of team development where individuals are yet to gel together. Members here are busy trying to identify their role in the team and drawing conclusions about one another. Teamwork is in its lowest stage here.

2. Storming

Here individuals have started seeing themselves as a part of the team. However, they might engage in competition among each other for authority and power. Confrontations and conflicts are frequent in this stage as differences might arise among team members. If there is a high degree of teamwork and a willingness to collaborate, then the members can move ahead from this stage onto the next.

3. Norming

This stage is characterized with increasing levels of interdependence, solidarity and cohesiveness. Members here contribute simultaneously to make an effort to adjust with the team environment. Team members here come together in working for their common objectiveness and a sense of togetherness prevails among members.

4. Performing

This is the final stage which is characterized by a comfortable environment where team members can effectively complete tasks in a cohesive and interdependent manner. There is an increased focus on both the team relationship and the task which combines together to produce synergy. Performance here is delivered through team members effectively working together. This stage has the highest levels of success, interdependence, maturity and comfort. Thus, it is the most productive stage of team building.

How To Improve Teamwork

how to improve teamwork

A 2008 study 8 found out that to build an effective team, there are seven skills which team members need to have to improve team performance, behavior and outcome.

1. Team Identity

Here the group should demonstrate willingness to work together, have a sense of belongingness and clarity as to the roles assigned to each member. Groups that have strong team identities also have a high degree of loyalty.

2. Motivation

When there is a high level of motivation in team members, it corresponds with the overall team energy and responsibilities in a positive manner. A motivated team will have knowledge and skills in meeting team tasks, set their goals, reinforce success and be persistent in their efforts.

3. Emotional awareness

The emotional awareness of a team encompasses the degree of attention the team is paying to notice, understand and respect the feelings of other team members. Emotional awareness is a vital factor in productivity, motivation and a team’s ability to effectively collaborate.

4. Communication

Communication is a critical factor for a group of people working together. It helps to improve feedback, guides members to listen well, discusses sensitive topics, encourages participation and resolves conflict.

5. Stress tolerance

A team that knows how to manage and tolerate stress can improve the workload pressure on members, resolve time constraints and provide work-life balance.

6. Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution here refers to how well a team manages to process disagreement and whether the team is able to deal with adverse situations in a productive manner without being caught up in conflict. This skill is essential for creativity and productivity.

7. Positive mood

A team that has a positive mood is built on a foundation of encouragement, an expectation of success and a sense of humor. Positive mood is an important factor in a team’s resilience and flexibility. It also influences the energy levels of each team member in a positive way.

Benefits Of Teamwork

Research has shown that teamwork tends to have several benefits which ultimately shapes the progress of teams and leads to a positive outcome. Some of the benefits of it are:

1. Improves productivity and service levels

When people work together as a team, it helps to increase productivity in the workplace. They tend to be motivated and are driven to communicate better with each other. They are also able to better respond and support customers.

2. Greater synergy

When people form a team from different backgrounds, knowledge levels and diverse skill sets, it helps to create a more efficient work environment and increases cooperation among team members where they learn from each other’s success and mistakes.

3. Better employee engagement

Teamwork allows members to discuss openly, have conversations apart from work and socialize with one another. This helps to create a bond between team members and they get to feel a sense of belonging with the team.

4. Increases innovation

Different team members can share their ideas and knowledge, analysis and suggestions which can provide for a better environment for brainstorming. This creates a path for developing new ideas and perspectives, which leads to better innovation in the workplace.

5. Overcomes obstacles and conflict

When teams face a challenge, they can use their combined skills and knowledge to come up with different solutions to tackle the obstacle or problem at hand. Team members can also support each other during difficult times and thus they are better able to handle adverse situations. Close knit teams also find ways to resolve conflicts among themselves.


Effective teamwork is must for any team to be able to progress with their task and reach positive outcomes on their common objective. Thus, it is necessary that leaders build and facilitate the team building skills of their employees to steer their organization towards success.

Teamwork At A Glance

  1. Teamwork refers to the willingness of a team or group of individuals who work together to achieve a shared or common purpose.
  2. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can be used to determine the personalities of each individual team member and their characteristics.
  3. Teamwork is a collaborative or joint effort by a group of people who work together interdependently with each other and share responsibilities to achieve a common aim, goal or objective.
  4. Teamwork requires effective communication between the sender and the receiver.
  5. To build an effective team, there are seven skills which team members need to have to improve team performance, behavior and outcome.
👇 References:
  1. Schmutz, J. B., Meier, L. L., & Manser, T. (2019). How effective is teamwork really? The relationship between teamwork and performance in healthcare teams: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ open9(9), e028280. []
  2. McEwan, D., Ruissen, G. R., Eys, M. A., Zumbo, B. D., & Beauchamp, M. R. (2017). The Effectiveness of Teamwork Training on Teamwork Behaviors and Team Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Interventions. PloS one12(1), e0169604. []
  3. Kumar, S., Deshmukh, V., & Adhish, V. S. (2014). Building and leading teams. Indian journal of community medicine : official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine39(4), 208–213. []
  4. Gander, F., Gaitzsch, I., & Ruch, W. (2020). The Relationships of Team Role- and Character Strengths-Balance With Individual and Team-Level Satisfaction and Performance. Frontiers in psychology11, 566222. []
  5. Kenrick, D. T., Griskevicius, V., Neuberg, S. L., & Schaller, M. (2010). Renovating the Pyramid of Needs: Contemporary Extensions Built Upon Ancient Foundations. Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science5(3), 292–314. []
  6. Woods RA, Hill PB. Myers Brigg. [Updated 2021 Mar 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: []
  7. Kumar, S., Deshmukh, V., & Adhish, V. S. (2014). Building and leading teams. Indian journal of community medicine : official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine39(4), 208–213. []
  8. Hughes, M., & Terrell, J. B. (2008, September 22). Team emotional and social intelligence (TESI short) participant workbook. []
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