How to be a Successful Team Player
Most people have been part of a team at some point in their lives. While we were in school, we're frequently paired up and put into groups to complete big projects. After school, there were sports teams, debate clubs, theater groups and even video game sessions. The list goes on and on. While some people thrive when working in a group and others shy away from it, teamwork -- whether in school or perhaps more importantly in the workplace -- is unavoidable and an important part of being successful.
Step One: Personal responsibility
There may be no "I" in team, but there is an "M" and an "E." You are the only person you’ll have any control over in a team. Focus on your responsibilities. If you say you’re going to do something, be sure to do it. No forgetting, and no flaking out. This is crucial to building trust with other teammates.
Step Two: Say your piece, let others do the same
Nobody likes a conversation hog. Not allowing someone to utter a word of contribution hurts the group as a whole. The best way to get ideas flowing is to give everyone an equal platform to speak. There are lots of ways to do this. The important thing is to be polite, don’t judge and actively listen. Hopefully, the courtesy will be returned to you.
Step Three: Flexibility equals success
A certain amount of give and take is always necessary for effective teamwork. It’s easy to focus on a certain way of thinking and get stuck. There are multiple solutions for every problem, so what might make sense to one person could be completely lost on another. Being flexible in your thinking and discussing all possible solutions and options within a team will make everything run much smoother.
Step Four: Communicate clearly
Working with people is all about communication. If someone is being unclear, vague or confusing, it can negatively affect the end result. Each team member needs to be aware of what their responsibilities are and how to best accomplish them. If a problem arises, always, always talk it out. Discussing possible solutions as a group will yield much better results than simply stewing or talking behind someone’s back.
Being a great team player can have huge payoffs, both personally and professionally. Knowing how to work well with others will help you finish projects faster, reduce your stress level and improve the level of cooperation. Ah, the joys of playing well with others -- good for kids and grown-ups alike.