What do they mean when they list ‘teamwork and collaboration’ as desired soft skills in job applications, and why are they so important?
I never gave much thought to my communication, ability to work in a team, or leadership skills. I thought a technical role should focus on the technical stuff, and that soft skills were secondary.
Fast forward to today – three years and eight teams later – and I can say that I was wrong.
On average, a full-time employee will spend a third of their life working. That is quite a high percentage of our time. At the risk of sounding cliché, it is up to us to make the best of it. So how can we do that? How can we ensure that we actually enjoy this time we spend at work? In all honesty, I have yet to figure out the full recipe, but I can share with you the few ingredients that have worked for me so far.
It might seem obvious, but it is something I often forget and it makes a huge difference. We are people, and as people we have various emotions, feelings and needs. It is called diversity, and it is a key factor for succeeding in our work. I would stretch it even further and say that as people, we need each other to be able to thrive. As employees, this well-being is necessary to be able to solve complex problems for our customers.
Sometimes, being a good team player just requires us to remind ourselves of our humanity. This may mean proposing to take a break, turn our camera on during online meetings, or simply smiling and asking each other how we are doing. It doesn’t always have to be about work.
This is a sentence I first heard at the Women In Tech conference, and it really stuck with me. I think it perfectly captures the essence of teamwork and the power of good collaboration: there is no success without a supporting team, and there is no team without collaboration. It can happen – especially in these times while working from home and not having many human interactions – that we feel like we are alone. This small sentence reminds me that I am part of some great teams, and that it just takes a second to write a message in the common chat and ask someone to work together with me to lift my mood. It’s another side of collaboration – one that goes beyond the daily work that we do.
Being a team player might seem like a small thing, but it has made all the difference. It has enabled me to have more fun at work, it has given me a chance to learn much more than what I could have done on my own, and it has contributed positively to the well-being of my colleagues as well.
Now I know that even for a deeply-technical role such as mine, soft skills are not just secondary, but rather a powerful asset that should be cherished and cultivated.
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