One of the most important skills that an employer seeks in an employee is the ability to work well in a team. Why is it so important to be a ‘team player’? The answer is obvious, isn’t it? Very rarely do operations in a company happen in isolation. So, the new hire should be comfortable working with other individuals, sharing their ideas with team members, and be able to work towards the team’s goals while balancing them with the pursuit of individual goals. According to a study conducted at Universitat de Lleida’s, teamwork generates more profits for an organisation than the individual work of the same employees.
Image : shutterstock
Although working as a team seems like the ideal situation, the truth is that not all of us are team players. Not all of us work our best with other people. Some of us are too dominant to be a part of a team and end up overshadowing others, while some others are too submissive to be taken seriously in a team. So what does it really take to be a team player? Do you find it difficult to work with a group in which each individual comes from a diverse background and has different perspectives about things? Here is a list of skills that will help you get along better with your teammates and work with them more productively.
Never assume things
When you are working in a team, one of the most important factors that will keep the group together is hassle-free and open communication. Never assume that you know what another person is working on, unless they evidently let you know of the same. Likewise, never assume that your team members know of what you are working on or information about the same. You really need to spell these things out and keep them or the concerned person in the loop while working on a team project. Also, do not hoard information and keep your team in the dark. A study in the Academy of Management Journal found that employees who intentionally hide knowledge will only get similar selfish behaviour in return from their co-workers, which will ultimately end up lowering their creativity. Encourage and practise full disclosure of relevant information and data. This keeps misunderstandings and delays away.
Never blame others
As a team, you are a single unit. It is one thing to appreciate a person’s contribution when there is success, but it is entirely different and hugely unpleasant to point out someone’s mistakes when things go wrong. Your team members will lose their regard and respect for you if you keep pointing fingers at others. Not being ready to share the blame when things go wrong and always blaming someone else will not just hurt your own reputation but also hinder your ability to learn from yours or their mistakes, says a study conducted by the Department of Management and Organisation at the University of Southern California. The study further said such behaviour spreads like wildfire within teams and organisation and affects the overall productivity. Instead, try acknowledging that there is a mistake on your part as well and think of ways you can correct the situation at hand as a team.
Be a good listener
Effective communication forms the foundation of teamwork. But communication does not just mean speaking about your ideas to your teammates. A good communicator is as good a listener as a talker. By being a good listener, you are reducing the chances of misinterpreting what your colleagues are putting forth. Once you have heard their ideas, you can clarify further doubts with them to clear any confusion. In this way, there is minimum chance of misunderstandings, and productivity levels of the team will soar.
Those who deliver completed tasks on time are usually highly regarded in a team. One of the most irresponsible things you can do as part of a team is to make promises and then be inconsistent in meeting deadlines. This only slows the progress of your entire team. So be reliable, show up on time, and perform consistently. In case you wouldn’t be able to complete a task within the stipulated time, let your team members know well in advance. This will either make them pitch in to help you complete it or help find a different solution to the problem you are trying to solve.
A good team player is always ready for challenges and knows how to adapt to new situations without much difficulty. They don’t complain or get stressed thinking of the change and are always up for going the extra mile. This kind of flexibility on the part of all members of a team will make sure that they are all accepting of each other and their ideas. This means that they look at the problem at hand from different viewpoints and consider different solutions to it before arriving at the most viable one. There will also be lesser conflict and politics in such teams.
Being a team player isn’t always easy because you have to work with people who have different personalities. But teams are usually set up to solve problems the expertise of more than one person. So look at it as an opportunity to collaborate and make connections, rather than a unpleasant challenge. Use your strengths to your team’s benefit, be reliable and flexible, and support your team members to help your team reach its goal and also move towards your personal goals more swiftly.