How To Be a Better Team Player

The Keys to Collaboration and Workplace Success
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We’ve all had to work in groups. Whether it’s a class presentation or even the lifelong job of raising a child, a lot of things we do, or things we want to do, require help and skills from a variety of people. At work, we realize that our company as a whole is striving towards a similar goal--in a sense, the whole company is a team. So, the functions of smaller groups within a business are essential to the company’s overall success, too.

According to John C. Maxwell, author of The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, “You cannot build a great team without great players.” The first player you should focus on making great? Yourself. In this post, we’ll discuss ways to improve yourself, your interactions with teammates, and the efficiency and success of your team as a whole.

1. Create Rules

Create a process or processes that you and your team can stick to, including an action plan, time for reflection, and the ability to adapt your process as needed. It’s important to have rules to keep everyone accountable and on-task, as well as allowing the team to learn from mistakes as a group and recover from them quickly.

2. Be Dependable

The team can only function if everyone does what they’re supposed to--don’t be the coworker everyone knows is full of excuses or is always behind schedule. Consistency is key if you want to be a good team player. Set deadlines for yourself, and meet them. If you’re struggling to stay on task, you may need to set more realistic expectations for yourself. Working harder is always a solution, of course, but so is knowing what you can and cannot handle.

3. Be Flexible

The needs of your team will change, and so will your role within the group. Don’t be a stick in the mud; any changes that you personally are going through, the whole team is adapting to as well. Complaining or getting stressed out won’t help anyone. It’s also important to stay flexible with your ideas and opinions. Don’t continue to argue something if (and when) the team needs to move forward.

4. Be Positive and Professional

Be kind, upbeat, and avoid contentious topics (typically those like sex, politics, and religion). Once again, consistency is key here. Team players are supportive and considerate all the time, not just when they need something from a coworker. When you’re pleasant to work with, the team as a whole will function smoothly.

5. Ask Questions

Get involved in discussions and encourage the involvement of your coworkers by asking questions. You can ask questions for clarifying, to discuss a new perspective, or simply to figure out how you can help. Questions not only keep you better informed, but they make sure you don’t have any gaps in understanding. Often, we assume we know it all, which brings us to our last point….

6. Share Information

Don’t assume that your coworkers know what you’ve done or all the information that you have. It’s important to keep everyone up to date so that you can share, analyze, and make decisions together. Everyone should be operating from the same knowledge base. You can share information informally, such as in passing with a coworker, or formally at a weekly meeting or over email.

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