Recently I attended a Skills for Success session about team working and communication skills run by the UK law firm, SGH Martineau. The session was led by two members of the firm; an HR officer and a trainee solicitor. They began by giving us a brief overview of the firm; what they do, who their clients are and routes into becoming a trainee solicitor. This was followed by a discussion of some of the key skills used on the job such as communication, organisation and commercial awareness, and the importance of developing these transferable skills whilst at university.
We then carried out two activities to demonstrate team working and communication skills. The first was a card game where each individual was given a playing card. As a group, we then had to arrange ourselves into four groups depending on the suit of your card and then in order of numbers without using any form of verbal communication. In the second activity, we were divided into groups of 8 where 4 members had to build a tower using marshmallows and spaghetti, whilst the other 4 observed and took note of their team working skills.
Up to 70% of the way we communicate was described as non-verbal. Body language especially is very important and we were informed that employers can sometimes make a decision within a few seconds based on the way you come across. Team working is also very important, as it is very unlikely that you will be working alone at any job and therefore it is important that you can work with other people effectively.
I thought that the team working activity was a great way of understanding the sort of activities to be expected at a graduate assessment centre and what employers are taking note of. Although it was a task to see which group would build the highest tower, the main focus was on how you worked as a team, what role you played and how you helped facilitate the task. It was easy to see how some members quickly took the role of team leader, whilst others were less vocal.
From the feedback received we were able to identify areas of improvement such as planning before beginning the task (as there might be someone in the group with more experience in that area); effective ways of resolving disagreements; and finally, the importance of making your voice heard and getting involved. We also learnt that if there is a member of the group who isn’t as involved, asking them of their opinion is a great thing to do. It shows not only your team working skills, but also your emotional intelligence and leadership skills - something that will very much impress the employer!
Overall the session reinforced the importance of good team working and communication skills but, most of all, the activities were a great way of creating a very enjoyable session for everyone.
Buya (Student Blogger)