We all like to think of ourselves as team players, it’s one of the most frequently cited ‘strengths’ on job applications and features a lot at the interview stage too. But what really constitutes a good team member? It’s more than biting your tongue when your coworkers annoy you or bringing the occasional baked good, to truly work well within a team you need to do the following:
A problem shared is a problem halved. Two heads are better than one. Many hands make light work. Sharing is caring.
Pick your favoured cliche and live by it. A team that embraces collective problem solving enjoys more rounded decision making and more creative output.
This is possibly the most integral part of being an effective team member. Listening often takes patience and empathy, especially during times of stress. Don’t speak on behalf of other members without listening to what they have to say and assume every member can add value.
Your workload may be stacked but that doesn’t mean that you can dump on your colleagues. Be mindful of their needs and deadlines too, and when working on a group project, pull your weight! Nothing is more frustrating than when someone thinks their time is more valuable than yours. With that in mind don’t make life more difficult for your colleagues by delaying submissions or pushing out due dates.
An overly competitive attitude doesn’t work in a team. You need to focus on making the team as a whole look good, not just yourself. Sometimes this means sacrificing your moment of glory for a shared win and sometimes it means getting credited with someone else’s successes. The sooner you accept this, the better a team player you’ll be!
Make time for updates
When you’re crazy busy, taking time out to tell people how you’re progressing can seem anti-productive and unnecessary. However, these are often the most crucial times to communicate well with your team. Having everyone on the same page means people will be more aware of your bandwidth and less likely to bother you with trivial issues.
Be accommodating to your colleagues – within reason! If you can pick up the slack for them every now and then, do. It fosters goodwill and leads to a positive working atmosphere. It also means the next time you need a dig out, your colleagues are more likely to oblige!