Cooperation is better than individual work

Teamwork: definition, requirements, advantages, tips

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If you read job advertisements, companies write teamwork very large: Every employer is looking for the perfect team player who has to be able to fit in well with existing teams. At the same time, he should be able to express his opinion and take on a leadership position. But does this idea really correspond to everyday professional practice? Rather not. Because although almost every company is committed to teamwork, many employees do most of their work alone and only come together in meetings with colleagues. What exactly teamwork means, what advantages and disadvantages it has and how you can use the collaboration for yourself ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition of teamwork: what does it mean to work in a team?

Teamwork can be long-term - for example in group work. Or it is of a temporary nature, as in project work. Common tasks, close cooperation and regular meetings are characteristic. Such a definition names a few essential points. Real collaboration, however, goes far beyond sharing a desk and sharing responsibility for a task. True teamwork is characterized by a number of important principles that become apparent outside of direct collaboration:

Sense of belonging

Nobody wants to be left out of a group. An important characteristic of teamwork is therefore the cohesion and the sense of togetherness between colleagues. Competition is part of professional life, but for successful teamwork, employees should see themselves as part of the group and act accordingly.


Teamwork can only work with appropriate communication. Everyone needs to be aware of what the other is working on. Otherwise, important things remain completely unfinished or the results suffer because information has not been passed on.


Everyone pursues their own personal professional goals: more salary, a higher position or simply job satisfaction. A characteristic of good teamwork is first and foremost shared goals, a direction that everyone is taking together and a path that everyone is equally committed to and interested in.


Everyone has stress at times. There is little time left to take care of others. But that is also an important aspect of teamwork: not to close your eyes to the problems of others, but to jump in when a colleague needs help. Even if your own appointment calendar is already well filled.

Requirements for successful teamwork

In order to actually establish successful teamwork, it takes more than motivating words. Only when certain conditions are met can the different personalities actually merge into a community that can achieve something together. These three prerequisites should be met for successful teamwork:

  • Team thinking
    If everyone only thinks of their own advantage and constantly tries to outdo their colleagues, teamwork cannot work. Unfortunately, the elbow mentality is widespread. You shouldn't let yourself be subdued, but only if you think about the team and the mutual success you enable cooperation.

    It already starts with the corporate culture: If companies promote individual performance more than team successes - for example, by highlighting individual employees in particular - they reinforce competitive thinking.
  • responsibility
    Everyone should be ready to take responsibility if they fail. Anyone who does not stand by it or hopes that nobody notices them harms the entire team. Everyone suspects everyone else, controls increase and the working atmosphere suffers. Managers should set a good example here. By admitting their own mistakes and setting an example of how to deal with mistakes instead of being loud and imposing punishments.
  • organization
    Too many cooks spoil the broth… To avoid this effect, organization is an important pillar of teamwork. What is currently being worked on, how far along are the colleagues, by when do sub-tasks have to be completed in order to be able to put everything together? Many people's work can only become a team project with the right organization.

    The general conditions in the workplace are crucial for teamwork. In order to promote it, employers must be ready to give it the necessary space. This does not only mean meetings, but also organizational freedom, such as times that employees can freely design in order to advance a project together.

Why is teamwork so important?

Employees need a retreat for tasks that require great concentration. Working on a solution on your own - doesn't this knowledge contradict the basic idea of ​​teamwork? No. Not every task is suitable for everyone. First and foremost, belonging to a team plays an important role.

Man is a social being and seeks contact with his fellow human beings. The importance of belonging and recognition in one's own social community can be illustrated by means of physical reactions. The body reacts to social rejection in a similar way to physical pain. On the other hand, social recognition triggers positive emotions in the brain. Being accepted as a full member of a team makes you happy. Accordingly, there is a great desire to fit in with one's social environment - be it at work or in private life.

3 tips for more teamwork

The ability to work in a team accompanies us in private life, with family and friends, but above all it plays an important role in our job. We spend a large part of our time at work. But how much time is actually spent working together? One or the other meeting in which the participants discuss the upcoming projects and goals. But in the literal sense, cooperation rarely takes place. Do all employees who do not work together in a team for several hours a day now have to forego the benefits of teamwork? Fortunately not, because it is not the direct collaboration on a common task that triggers positive emotions. It's the feeling of belonging.

If it is possible to generate this in the workplace, the employees are not only happier, but also demonstrably more motivated, more productive, less stressed and more persistent. A win-win situation for both employers and employees. With these three tips you can achieve this even with tasks that cannot be worked on together:

Build a real team

Spending time together at work creates the basis for a relationship, but it does not create a close team bond on its own. Although you feel connected to your colleagues, the feeling of belonging can be increased significantly if your superiors actively work to weld the team together. It can help to meet again after work and do something together.

Pay attention to your choice of words

An amazingly simple means of increasing the sense of belonging among colleagues is to use the right wording. Studies by Stanford University show that just using the word “together” had a strong impact on the participants in the experiment. Anyone who was persuaded that they were working on a project with others - even if they were all alone in a room - were not only better, they were more motivated. Afterwards he felt even better than those test subjects who had the impression that they were only working for themselves and alone.

Ensure physical proximity

Another study from Harvard shows that close collaboration is beneficial for teams. In the study, physical proximity increased the quality of the work. At a time when teams often work together via conference calls or videoconferencing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so, but the attempt has the potential to produce positive results.

Advantages and disadvantages of teamwork


  • Loyalty is strengthened
    If real teamwork takes place in the workplace, then the employees identify themselves particularly strongly with their colleagues and also with the company itself. This leads to them being particularly loyal and loyal, also making difficult decisions together and feeling committed to the employer's goals.
  • The results improve
    The better a team works together, the more positive the impact on the result. Not only is work more productive, but also simply better when the strengths of all team members are optimally used to cope with a common task.
  • The satisfaction increases
    The working atmosphere is an important aspect of employee satisfaction. Those who do not get along with their colleagues do not enjoy their work and would prefer to stay at home. A great advantage of good teamwork is therefore that employees are satisfied with their job - and thus act more motivated.
  • The work goes more smoothly
    A well-coordinated team has to struggle with significantly fewer problems. You already know in advance where possible complications could arise and you help each other to avoid them or solve them as quickly as possible.


  • Processing of the tasks not as possible
    Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. This can be an advantage, but it is not always possible to distribute the tasks that arise. A sub-project might end up on the to-do list of a colleague who is far less qualified for it.
  • Increased coordination effort required
    Coordinating and coordinating with one another requires significantly more time. The bigger the team, the more difficult it becomes.
  • Competencies and responsibilities are unclear
    If there is disagreement about who is responsible for what things, it hinders teamwork. We no longer work together, but against each other. In the end, important tasks may simply be left behind because nobody feels responsible for them.
  • Individuals play themselves in the foreground
    It is much more difficult to stand out positively in a team, since the achievements are attributed to the community. This can lead to the fact that some people want to outdo each other in individual tasks in order to reap the laurels. This group dynamic phenomenon is called social comparison known.
  • Everyone relies on the other
    The exact opposite is the so-called Social loafing. Since the performance of individual employees is less noticeable, many tend to sit back and count on the others to carry out the project successfully. However, individual lazy people continue to pull the overall result of the group downwards.

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March 8, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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