Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 10, 2020

13 Ways to Be a Great Team Player At Work

13 Ways to Be a Great Team Player At Work

It may sound obvious, but most people prefer to work with those who are team-oriented. A survey found that 79 percent of employers look for this attribute in job candidates.[1]

The words “team player” are often bandied about (on resumes, in particular). But what does it mean to truly be a team player?

It means recognizing that when the whole group meets its goals, everyone on the team shines. You, individually, may not be singled out for your contributions, but your team will be praised. Together, you rise.

Teamwork is required for almost every industry. If you have ever been on a team in high school or college, some attributes of being a team player at the office will come naturally. But whether you’re an athlete or not, great team behavior can be learned.

Here are 13 ways you can be a true team player at work.

1. Compete, But Keep the Competition Friendly

There is nothing wrong with a little intra-team competitiveness. In fact, it can keep everyone on the team sharp. After all, top management has set high benchmarks, and it’s perfectly normal to feel that your team will best all the other teams in the office.

As your team leaps over interim goals, a little friendly boasting about it keeps everyone on his or her top game. Just don’t let the bragging rights get out of hand. You want your team to win, of course, but at the end of the day, your company wins when all the teams are working well together.

Advertising

2. Develop a Team Mentality

It’s a cliché to say, “There’s no ‘I’ in the word ‘team.’” But what does it mean? It means that there is no “star system” at the office. You and your teammates need to honestly evaluate each idea and develop the best one, regardless of who on the team suggested the idea.

It may be humbling, but sometimes, the intern has the best idea. Other times, the boss does. By keeping an open mind and staying title-neutral about the origins of ideas, you and your teammates will learn to sift through ideas, finding the pearl that wins the new piece of business.

3. Go All In

Once the team settles on the winning idea, commit your all to it. Sometimes, you will love the idea so much that you wish you had thought of it. Other times, you may secretly think that the team did not rise to the occasion. The best idea may not be chosen, but once the decision is made to get behind an idea, being a team player means that you put your all into executing it with panache.

Consider how people on creative teams in the advertising or entertainment industries are often called on to execute ideas that weren’t their personal top choice. Particularly if the winning idea was not your favorite, your clients will appreciate your enthusiasm in giving full attention to the idea they selected.

4. Respect Other People’s Ideas

There are subtle ways in which we all cut down other people’s ideas. One way is when we dismiss an idea before we thoroughly understand it. Another tactic is to claim that the brainstorming meeting is running long, and you’ll all take up the idea in a future meeting.

Talking over someone who is explaining an idea you don’t like is another way of showing little respect. You and your ideas will be taken more seriously when you accord respect to other people’s ideas. You don’t have to love the ideas. But it’s only polite to listen to them.

5. Volunteer Your Time, Energy, and Your Technology

Treat your team members like family, meaning that you are willing to do whatever it takes for the team’s overall wellbeing. That could mean running out to buy a pizza for a team member who has to work late into the evening or stepping up and take a share of a stressed-out team member’s workload to get through the crunch.

Advertising

If you are the techie on the team, be ready to solve or instruct on any computer glitches to keep productivity at its pinnacle. Think of a medical setting where team members never balk at another member’s request as they work to address a patient’s injury or illness. Their sole focus is on working collectively to increase the chances of a positive outcome for the patient.

6. Be Transparent About Facts, Figures, and Timelines

The best team members commit to collaboration over competition. This means freely sharing all information openly so as not to undermine the work or performance of anyone on your team. Together, you cultivate an underlying trust that each will share whatever information he or she receives that will inform and support the team.

In any customer service role, when multiple team members may be assisting with meeting the needs of a customer, openly briefing others on the situation will improve the response. Customers can perceive when a company they’re doing business with doesn’t have a strong team spirit and will just take their business elsewhere.

7. Meet Your Deadlines

Great team players help each other complete work on time. No one wants to be the one who lets down the rest of the team by failing to hit a deadline. Not only does being a team player help make you accountable when performing time-sensitive tasks, but it also helps you adapt to and appreciate others’ work styles.

A team preparing a market research report will rely on individual team members to provide their separate elements—data analysis, report narrative, layout and graphics, editing, and so on. Keeping everyone on task so that the deadline is met means learning how to honor a timeline, whether you’re someone who paces your work or a last-minute procrastinator.

8. Take One for the Team

Every so often, the powers-that-be in the company may ask your team to change direction. Maybe the bosses loved the team’s idea the first time they heard it, but have gathered new intelligence since then. When that’s the case, being a team player means knowing that you may have to work longer hours than you anticipated to see a new idea through.

Offer to stay late and get in early. Show that you can pivot seamlessly.

Advertising

9. Stay Flexible

Ideas evolve, but when you are on a winning team, you don’t have to thrash out every single facet of the idea by yourself. You have a whole team to do that. Over time, hopefully, the idea will improve and sharpen. It may encounter a few revisions, but team players know that revisions often improve an idea.

10. Communicate Continuously

Good team members can communicate effectively with the group, keeping in mind that effective communication involves active listening.

Ask questions to clarify anything about which you are unclear. Consult the other members and invite input before coming to any decisions. Also, take time to make sure that others understand what they need to know, making sure not to talk over the heads of other team members with jargon or confusing acronyms.

For example, if you are the software developer on the team, do your best to communicate technical information to team members who may not be as technically proficient.

11. Orchestrate Effectively

Teams have to orchestrate in such a way that they pull all the pieces of their work together simultaneously. This means understanding how all the individual tasks must come together to make a whole.

Think of the kitchen staff at a high-end restaurant that must ensure the steak is grilled to order, the vegetable side dish is perfectly sautéed, and the baked potato is piping hot—all at the same time. If one member is unable to synchronize with the rest of the team, the result goes from pleasurable to substandard.

12. Draw on the Team’s Synergy

Honor the individual skills within the team and how they come together to create a full complement of proficiency. This is an important attitude to have if you want to be a great team player. Understand how this mutual reliance is what makes the sum of your team greater than its parts. Acknowledge and appreciate each other’s contributions toward refining plans, improving the end product, and achieving a common purpose together. Together, you rise.

Advertising

13. Keep Each Other Motivated

While each team member is responsible for completing his or her part of the larger assignment, working as a team means you don’t have to work in isolation. You have your team members to consult when you encounter any obstacle or prefer not to decide on your own.

Knowing you can rely on your team to help you and provide support and guidance will keep you motivated to do your best work.

Final Thoughts

Teamwork gives employees a sense of connection and a shared purpose, which are key components for creating a culture of engagement at work. A cohesive team that trusts in each member’s abilities allows employees to find joy in their work, and is a sure formula for retaining talented staff.

That’s why it’s important for you to learn these 13 ways to be a great team player so you can realize your potential and maximize your output at work.

More Tips on How to Be a Good Team Player

Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Vicky Oliver

Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You How to Make Going Back to School at 30 Possible Why You Are Never Too Old for College (And How To Make It Work) How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details How To Write Minutes of Meeting Effectively (with Examples)

Trending in Work

1 13 Characteristics of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs 2 5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All 3 10 Simple Habits Every Effective Manager Needs to Learn 4 10 Ways To Help Your Employees Have A Healthy Work-Life Balance 5 Top 10 Workplace Safety Tips Every Employee Should Know

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

Advertising

“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

Advertising

The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

Advertising

You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

Advertising

Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

Read Next