The thing I hated most about college was group projects. As a high-achieving, independent student, there was nothing scarier than putting my academic future into the hands of someone I didn’t know. While it’s not any different in the corporate world, I will say that working as a team is essential to a thriving work environment. Often times, the work you do is part of a larger campaign and failure to collaborate could cost you your job.
Look at it this way, the faster you work, the faster you can go home, which won’t happen if no one wants to work with you. Here are some of the best characteristics of team players:
1. Flexibility. In the office, things can change at the drop of hat. You need to be able to figure out the best way you can contribute to the situation at hand. Rather than complaining and overreacting to new directions, flexibility during times of struggle provides a foundation for better work and raises the morale of the entire office. Flexibility is demonstrated on an interpersonal level as well as corporately.
When dealing with a work conflict, the flexible team member can act as a mediator between two opposing parties to reach a resolution. A good team player sticks to his values, but is open to the suggestions of others.
2. Commitment. Teams are strengthened when lasting relationships are created between members. A key principle in any relationship is commitment; team players arrive promptly for work and are ready to do their jobs. These individuals show their commitment by putting in an effort to create the best product possible. Most importantly, team players expect the same level of commitment from other members of the team; lazy members will be called to perform at their best.
3. Cooperation. You don’t have to like your coworkers, but you do have to work with them. Regardless of your opinions of another employee, your jobs are to make the company more money. Good team players put aside personal quarrels and work to find common ground. Cooperation also means helping others finish a task faster.
4. Support and Respect. Even though it may be difficult to see a team as anything but a means to an end, remember that teams are comprised of people, each one with their own issues and personal struggles. Sometimes, it is better for the whole team to take a break and have fun once in a while.
In large group settings, there is usually an unofficial leader of the group. If that person is you, treat your partners as you would want to be treated. Team players care about the end result; in doing so, every individual part must be the best it can be, which means providing advice and support for others when they need it most. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be outspoken to be helpful; small gestures and genuine compassion are enough to motivate individuals.
5. Communication. This is especially important in large teams. As the work begins to pile up, it is easy to lose sight of other team members’ progress. During those times, team players work even harder to ensure that there is an open dialogue among every team member, in order to avoid confusion. Similarly, make sure you’re approachable enough that people don’t mind asking for your help.
6. Step up. This doesn’t necessarily mean lead – even though it can. Team players are willing to rise to the occasion and complete difficult tasks. Stepping up also includes helping and listening to others, offering suggests and contributing to group discussions. These people also go the extra mile and volunteer their time.
7. Stay Sharp. Sharpness takes many forms. In this instance it’s about being well versed in the task at hand and having the skills to do the job. Sharing new information that will benefit the group is also an essential part of being at your best. Remember, this is not a competition, a victory for one; this is a victory for all.
Have more tips for being a great team player? Share ‘em in the comments!