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13 Ways to Be a Great Team Player At Work

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2021

20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

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20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

“Please describe yourself in a few words”.

It’s the job interview of your life and you need to come up with something fast. Mental pictures of words are mixing in your head and your tongue tastes like alphabet soup. You mutter words like “deterministic” or “innovativity” and you realize you’re drenched in sweat. You wish you had thought about this. You wish you had read this post before.

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    Image Credit: Career Employer

    Here are 20 sentences that you could use when you are asked to describe yourself. Choose the ones that describe you the best.

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    “I am someone who…”:

    1. “can adapt to any situation. I thrive in a fluctuating environment and I transform unexpected obstacles into stepping stones for achievements.”
    2. “consistently innovates to create value. I find opportunities where other people see none: I turn ideas into projects, and projects into serial success.”
    3. “has a very creative mind. I always have a unique perspective when approaching an issue due to my broad range of interests and hobbies. Creativity is the source of differentiation and therefore, at the root of competitive advantage.”
    4. “always has an eye on my target. I endeavour to deliver high-quality work on time, every time. Hiring me is the only real guarantee for results.”
    5. “knows this job inside and out. With many years of relevant experience, there is no question whether I will be efficient on the job. I can bring the best practices to the company.”
    6. “has a high level of motivation to work here. I have studied the entire company history and observed its business strategies. Since I am also a long-time customer, I took the opportunity to write this report with some suggestions for how to improve your services.”
    7. “has a pragmatic approach to things. I don’t waste time talking about theory or the latest buzz words of the bullshit bingo. Only one question matters to me: ‘Does it work or not?'”
    8. “takes work ethics very seriously. I do what I am paid for, and I do it well.”
    9. “can make decisions rapidly if needed. Everybody can make good decisions with sufficient time and information. The reality of our domain is different. Even with time pressure and high stakes, we need to move forward by taking charge and being decisive. I can do that.”
    10. “is considered to be ‘fun.’ I believe that we are way more productive when we are working with people with which we enjoy spending time. When the situation gets tough with a customer, a touch of humour can save the day.”
    11. “works as a real team-player. I bring the best out of the people I work with and I always do what I think is best for the company.”
    12. “is completely autonomous. I won’t need to be micromanaged. I won’t need to be trained. I understand high-level targets and I know how to achieve them.”
    13. “leads people. I can unite people around a vision and motivate a team to excellence. I expect no more from the others than what I expect from myself.”
    14. “understands the complexity of advanced project management. It’s not just pushing triangles on a GANTT chart; it’s about getting everyone to sit down together and to agree on the way forward. And that’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.”
    15. “is the absolute expert in the field. Ask anybody in the industry. My name is on their lips because I wrote THE book on the subject.”
    16. “communicates extensively. Good, bad or ugly, I believe that open communication is the most important factor to reach an efficient organization.”
    17. “works enthusiastically. I have enough motivation for myself and my department. I love what I do, and it’s contagious.”
    18. “has an eye for details because details matter the most. How many companies have failed because of just one tiny detail? Hire me and you’ll be sure I’ll find that detail.”
    19. “can see the big picture. Beginners waste time solving minor issues. I understand the purpose of our company, tackle the real subjects and the top management will eventually notice it.”
    20. “is not like anyone you know. I am the candidate you would not expect. You can hire a corporate clone, or you can hire someone who will bring something different to the company. That’s me. “

    Featured photo credit: Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

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