The term “team player” is so often used as an essential professional attribute that it’s become a well-worn cliché—but that doesn’t make it any less of a valuable skill to have if you want to be successful at work, regardless of your occupation or industry.
Being able to work well with others and being regarded by your colleagues as an effective team player can lead to a wealth of promising career opportunities—people will tend to seek you out when assembling teams for projects (which are more likely to be successful when the members of your team work well together), peers and superiors will turn to you for collaborations that can enhance your visibility and profile, you’ll increase your chances of impressing your colleagues, and others will want to support you and celebrate your success as you climb your personal career ladder.
Although some folks seem to be able to work well with others no matter what the situation or mix of personalities they find themselves in, for others it’s not quite that simple. The truth is, not everyone is a natural team player, but everyone can become one with a little effort. Here goes:
1. Show Genuine Commitment
Team players are genuinely committed to their cause. Good team players might make sure they are in the office when needed, but great team players will make “seat” time worth it and contribute as much as possible. They strive for excellence.
2. Be flexible
Instead of sitting on the bench watching the rest of the crew perform, an outstanding team player wants to see the magic happen through his or her efforts as well. They are flexible to the situations thrown their way, and they participate and tackle challenges without showing too many signs of stress or pressure.
3. Don’t stay in the shadows
It is not in your interest to just sit quietly and get your work done. It’s a good thing to involved others, as long as you aren’t bothering people with questions you should know the answer to. Great team players come to their teammates having prepared their ideas clearly.
4. Be reliable and responsible
An excellent team player will be reliable and responsible. They complete the tasks in order of priority, not necessarily in order that they’re given. When you’re not sure of what should take priority, ask your manager.
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5. Actively listen
Active listening means taking their viewpoint into account. You are only a team player if you respectfully consider the viewpoints and ideas of other people as well. This is why diverse teams have the potential to so effective, and it all depends on active listening. Active listening is harder than you think. When you hear someone saying something you don’t initially agree with, keep from interrupting and don’t let your mind prepare any counter remarks. Just listen, and consider what they’re saying and more importantly, why they believe that.
6. Keep your team informed
Share your opinion and ideas without trying to come up with a plan for taking credit for it. Transparency is key on a team, so keep your team members informed. Planning for your own success is important, but whether you get promoted may have a lot to do with how you communicated with your team members.
7. Always be ready to help
Even if it is not in your job description, be generous with pointers or tips to help your team members. For example, if a member of your team is having trouble with a technology tool that is easy for you, offer to sit down with him and show him what you know.
8. Support and respect others
It seems obvious that you wouldn’t want to shut someone from your team out, or laugh at other people’s ideas, but we do these things in a subtle way, without realizing it, all the time. It is important to become more self-aware of how you treat others. Remember, you’ll receive respect when you give it to others. An ideal team player knows how to have fun, but he would never do it at someone else’s expense.
9. Be a problem-solver
Instead of pointing out the problem and throwing it to others to solve, there is no reason why you can’t offer solutions yourself. Your teammates will appreciate your skills, and this may pays off later when your manager considers you for a promotion! The world rewards problem solvers!
10. Recognize when you are wrong
A good team player will back off an idea when it becomes clear it’s not the right path. If you believe strongly that your team is making a mistake, you can find a way to come back to the issue when the time is right, but being a stubborn stick in the mud is not a quality of a good team player.
Does that sound like you or do your teamwork skills need some sharpening? What do you look for in a team member?
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