Does Your Department Have These Teamwork Traits?

BY C. Lee Smith
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Think back to the last time your team was assigned a simple task. Are you having trouble remembering? Don’t stress out. You’re not losing your mind. Organizational life in today’s economy is never simple. You’re constantly being reminded to break down barriers to get the job done. And to do a great job, you should focus on teamwork traits.

What Are Teamwork Traits

To complete a complex project, you’ll need a team that possesses a range of strengths. If the goal is to launch a space probe, someone on your team must possess great attention to detail. Without that trait, the probe may not follow the exact course needed to reach its destination successfully. Similarly, if your project requires enduring many failures before achieving success, think sales, a few of your team members must be highly persistent.

Some managers and employees might believe if they are left to accomplish a job, they’ll succeed as individuals. Duncan Watts, professor of operations at Wharton, looked into this belief and hoped to shed light on project management for “managers trying to figure out the best way to assign tasks.” Watts and his co-​authors set up a study to measure efficiency in the task of “assigning students to dorm rooms.” They asked both groups and individuals to manage the task, and they increased the challenge by adding constraints “such as more students, fewer rooms, students who could not be neighbors or live in the same room, and students who must be neighbors or live in the same room.”

Team Management

The study results showed teams completed the task more efficiently. Because so many individuals offered solutions and possibilities, the team was able to arrive at a solution quickly.  Researchers also found that team dynamics matter. If team members don’t accept their manager, the resulting friction can slow down progress.

Another problem is the element of groupthink. In some cases, a manager will possess traits that make individuals afraid to offer their individual opinions. In other cases, a highly influential or toxic team member could be exhibiting behavior that causes other individuals to hold back. 

When you have the right team in place, you can excel as a group. For example, if you’ve been assigned the task of developing a new product or service, you’ll be relying on the teamwork traits of creativity and curiosity. How do you know if your team members naturally possess these traits? Ask them to take a psychometric assessment.


Assessment results will help you understand the general team scores for many traits, including self-​control and work ethic.  In our research, 40% of sales managers have noted that their most difficult conversations with team members center on time commitment. When you face pressure to bring in a project on time and under budget, knowing that your team members possess great work ethic will be key.

With detailed assessment results, managers have the information they need to assemble a strong team. But if you don’t have the flexibility to add new people to your team, assessments can help you understand how to improve the outcomes for an individual who may not be participating as effectively as others. In a sales situation, you may have noticed a team member who consistently fails to conduct effective discovery. Before you take the drastic step of putting the rep on a performance plan, check their coachability score on their assessment. Highly coachable individuals will be open to your guidance on how to improve their selling skills. You may be able to develop them into a solid sales reps and retain them as part of the group, an important goal in this era of job hopping.

Building Your Team

If you’re putting together a team for a long-​term project, you no longer have to guess at whether a person will succeed in the role you have in mind. Psychometric assessments allow you to know the person and to know how well they’ll work with you and the other people on the team.

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