Employee Corner

8 Ways To Be A Team Player

While most team members identify the importance of being a team player, a lot of individuals fail to practice important traits of being one. However, there are some ways that each team member can ensure being a great team player. Here are eight ways that individuals could consider and practice.

1.    Use your strengths

Every team is made of different individuals with complementing skills. The reason: each team member is supposed to align his/her role and strength to the team’s goals. Organisations that encourage a culture of ‘bring your best’, can help individuals contribute to their teams in the best possible manner with their greatest strengths.

Strengths can be of different kinds:

  • Some employees might have the strength to envision and solve problems.
  • Some team members might have the design strength. These are people who get down to the facts, plan and execute.
  • Then there are employees who possess the build strengths, which makes them masters of processes and systems of doing things.
  • There is also the operating strength. These are people who are great people persons, who can get different individuals together to get work done with collaboration.

2.    Help teammates through challenges

Saying ‘I don’t have time’ is a for sure way of losing the trust of teammates, says, entrepreneur John Hall. What might seem like an easy task for you, could be a big challenge for your colleague. Helping out a colleague would only improve a team’s creative problem-solving capacity. And here are simple ways to do it:

  • Always make sure to listen to your colleagues when they are asking for help. 
  • Give them a specific time when you can help them out. 
  • And if you cannot help, think of connecting them with someone who may be able to help. 

Apart from the usual helping out with roadblocks in tasks, here are some ways that professionals who are part of the same team can help each other:

  • Speak for colleagues who are being sidelined: Sometimes colleagues who are trying to get heard might be interrupted or intentionally cut out from a discussion. In such cases, speak for your coworkers who are being sidelined.
  • Help your new colleagues create a good first impression: When a new person joins your office or team, try to help them make a good first impression. Lend a helping hand in everything they do.
Also Read: Top Activities That Waste An Employee's Time

3.    Give credit to team members

We get opportunities to appreciate or put down our colleagues on an everyday basis. It’s all about what we choose to do. Showing appreciation and giving credit, not only boosts people’s self-worth, it improves positivity within a team and an organisation. An article in the Harvard Business Review shares a few ways in which we can practice giving credit to colleagues:

  • Recognise those who recognise others: Giving credit to individuals for their work is one thing, but it also helps to recognise those who give credit to others and appreciate them.
  • Look out for the quiet performers and make them feel good: Some workers quietly accomplish their tasks and do not really expect recognition. Take the time to recognise the quiet performers and give them credit. It generates an encouraging atmosphere.

4.    Create healthy boundaries

Create healthy boundaries and respect others boundaries, too. How does that help teams, you might wonder. It creates an example of a well-functioning team with strong and respectable relationships. At times, it might be difficult to set the boundaries in the first place, but with time, it only enhances the working culture of a team. There are subtle ways in which healthy boundaries can be created within teams:

  • Saying no to work situations that one is not comfortable with
  • Asking people before adding onto their work
  • Refraining from giving advice, feedback, and support when not asked for
  • Keeping work and life separate

5.    Effective communication

Let’s begin with some scientific facts. On average, a person can speak around 200 words per minute. The human brain can process around 500 words in the same amount of time. The gap creates a delay and the brain tends to assume the remaining number of words. By now you must have figured what kind of effect it can have on the communication between two colleagues and how it can negatively affect work relationships.

We all know the usual grind: communicate with clarity, listen, don’t keep important information, and be transparent and so on and so forth. But when Julia Rozovsky conducted a research on 180 teams in Google, she found one behaviour of team members to have a significant positive effect on the performance and success of the team – teams where all the members well allowed to communicate in equal measures, performed better.

6.    Flexibility to others’ working methods

Being flexible points to several positive outcomes. It means you value diversity. It means you respect others’ ways and methods. It means you are responsive. For organisations and teams, it is important to practice flexibility in order to bring the best out of the teams. But when it comes to individuals, the ability to adapt to the other’s methods and the ability for the other to be able to reciprocate to the same can make a lot of difference to the whole team. With collaboration being the key term within teams, being flexible is an unsaid trait, but not all individuals practice it with ease.

Here are a few simple ways to develop a flexible approach:

  • Give the other person’s suggestion a chance
  • Try out new things
  • Be open to team member’s methods of working
  • Refrain from being negative

7.    Demonstrate positivity

Imagine working with a colleague who’s always skeptical and says ‘not possible’ to every other task given to the team. Imagine a colleague who’s always cribbing about working conditions or things that are lacking in the workplace. Imagine being around this person five days a week through the day and the impact it could have on your attitude to work. Research shows that positive teams are 12% more productive than teams that are buried in negativity. Now imagine if each team member demonstrates a positive attitude in the team, how happy, energetic and successful a team can be.

Here’s a simple practice to follow in order to develop positivity. For every negative thought that your brain engages in, imagine a happy alternative for the same situation. Assume a positive scenario instead of a negative one. It will reduce stress and unhappiness that you associated with that negative thought. The same will reflect in the other team members. Try it. It works wonders!

8.    Develop your emotional intelligence

Hillary Elfenbein, assistant professor at Berkley, studied the positive impact of emotional intelligence in teamwork. A high level of emotional intelligence of individual team members has greater effectiveness in working together with colleagues. Developing emotional intelligence is easier said than done, but it is definitely possible. Practice some of these things:

  • Identify your own feelings
  • Identify others’ feelings
  • Ask others for their perspective on certain situations
  • Be observant of others
  • Always ask yourself what you can learn from someone

The importance of teams to work well together is vital. But if each team member practices key traits to be a good team player, it’s a cakewalk.