Teamwork Skills

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Course Description

Participants learn key skills and tools for working in teams: building trust and unity, using problem solving and decision-making tools, identifying and committing to team goals, and communicating in ways that are positive and professional. The workshop provides many opportunities, through activities, games, and a simulation—the lively Jungle Escape activity, where participants work in teams to build a helicopter from K’Nex toy parts– for interaction and learning.

Course Objectives

  • Know how to foster an environment of trust and unity that encourages and acknowledges cooperation
  • Know how to do collective problem solving
  • Learn how to use non-verbal and verbal communication to build trust and increase rapport
  • Know how to Identify and support team goals.
  • Know how to keep interactions with others appropriate and professional
  • Create group agreements and ensure team members will support agreements
  • Handle conflict without damaging relationships among team members and losing productivity

Materials: Course workbook, Jungle Escape (simulation) booklet

Course Length: 1 day

Course Outline


  1. Introduction/Overview
  2. What work teams really do

Large group activity:

  1. List work teams you are familiar with (ER, operating room, Indy 500, sales and customer service, research, other).
  2. Identify what teams do that help them succeed.
  3. Make a master list of what we can do on our work teams to help us succeed.
  • What Effective Team Members Do
    • Self-assessment: The 12 Key Behaviors of Effective Team Members
    • Presentation: What really counts in being an effective team member.
    • How to Foster an Environment of Trust and Unity
      1. Discussion: Stages of Team Development
      2. Guidelines: How to Build Trust
      3. Simulation: Jungle Escape. Participants work in teams to build a helicopter from toy parts. [Kits and workbooks for this activity are provided.] Team members discuss what works and what doesn’t work (in terms of individual behaviors) in accomplishing the goal.

Simulation Objectives:

  1. Experience the various task and interpersonal issues that occur when people undertake a project that requires joint problem solving and decision making. Understand how to build trust within a team.
  2. Increase awareness of the impact of each team member’s behavior on team unity, team productivity, and team member satisfaction.
  3. Demonstrate the effect of planning on group results.
  1. How Teams Solve Problems and Make Team Decisions
    1. Creative Problem Solving
      1. The Koosh Game (Brainstorming)
      2. How can I? – What if? – What’s feasible?
      3. Case – to be customized to USPTO
    2. Systematic Problem Solving – Finding the Cause
    3. Rational Decision-making
      1. How to make quick decisions
      2. How to make a criteria matrix to make the right decision


  1. How Teams Set Goals
    1. Discussion: Why teams need shared goals/What happens when a team lacks commitment to a shared goal.
    2. Activity: Writing S.M.A.R.T. Objectives.
  • How Team Members Communicate – Be positive and be professional!
    1. Activity: Team members brainstorm on their most vexing communication problems and then work in small groups to come up with solutions.
    2. Resources [to be provided]
      1. Helpful/Harmful Communication Styles

Activity: Developing Style Flexibility

  1. Supportive Communication
  2. Pause/Reflect/Act
  3. Feedback Guidelines
  4. Guidelines for Difficult Conversations
  • How Team Members Handle Conflict
  • Objective: Handle conflict without damaging relationships among team members and losing productivity
    1. Activity: How Team Members Handle Conflict. Team members discuss the sources of conflict on their teams.  They then come up with suggestions for dealing with the conflicts.
    2. Tools for Handling Conflict on a Team
      1. Establish ground rules – Sample ground rules
      2. Use a process – Guidelines for Reaching Consensus (Discussion/Action)
      3. Have a fallback plan – When the Team Can’t Reach Consensus
    3. Summary – Next Steps/Action Plan

Action Plan: What does each of you need to do now to be an outstanding team member? Which of the 12 Behaviors of Effective Team Members can I commit to doing immediately?