My associates and I – we are frequently asked by both candidates and employers how one can become a Team Player and/or what are the attributes of a good Team Player.
Keeping in mind that one person’s idea of a good Team Player could be some other person’s ‘nightmare’ (the why is a big discussion on its own right) , kindly allow me to offer some ideas and suggestions in this article.
WHAT Makes a Good Team?
Everybody talks about what makes a Good Team Player but rarely what makes a Good Team:
- The Team Goals/ Targets/ KPIs are known and clearly understood by everyone.
- The Team Goals/ Targets/ KPIs are set within realistic time frames and deadlines.
- Communication between Team Members is plenty, open, continuous & ‘2-way’.
- All Team Members are carefully listened to and do receive thoughtful clear feedback
- Everyone actively participates in almost all relevant activities, meetings & projects.
- Everyone is supportive of each other all the time and in every project.
- Each team member trusts the decision & judgement of the others.
- Full team acceptance & commitment is expected when decisions are made.
- Everyone displays initiative in ‘getting things done’.
- Team members think hard about new & creative solutions to problems/ projects.
- Team decisions are made ideally in consensus, using organized,& logical ways.
- The team is open and ready to calculate impact of risks and take the risks.
What are the Effective Team Player Attributes?
Please keep in mind that: this is a just partial list:
1. Clear Self- Assessment
That might seem trivial, but you should have a real inventory of your personal strengths and weaknesses, both at the personality and at the professional level. A Team Players knows in which areas to help and in which areas to ask for assistance from his/ her colleagues. It is really acceptable to ask for help, the same way it is acceptable to help other team- members without any judgement on their weak points.
2. Communication & Language
- Make sure that you -please- state clearly what you have in your mind
- Check that the others perceive correctly and fully what you mean
- Be always honest, open, proactive and transparent in your communications
- Follow up & Communicate progress on any team activities/ actions
- Your communication should encourage and welcome feedback
- Good Listening Skills are part of High- Impact Communication
- So is, asking Powerful Questions (that is an acquired art)
- Listen, understand, and consider ideas and other points of view without arguing every point with your Teammates.
- Always communicate constructively
- Open & Continuous Information sharing
- When talking with other look for visual, auditory and kinesthetic cues (see www.modernghana.com/lifestyle/8816/how-to-get-a-job-with-nlp.html)
Beyond discussion at organized meetings, team members should be talking with one another and passing along all sort of important news and information day-to-day.
3. Good negotiation & Conflict Resolution Skills
Conflicts within a group of people or between that and another group of people, will always be part of life. But they need to be resolved asap, so that such situations do not get out of hand.
The good Team Player should acknowledge & work through any conflict openly.
Probably this is the core of the good Team Player attitudes. A good Team Player:
- stands behind the organization’s vision and mission
- cares both about their work and the team’s work
- puts aside all differences for the common good of the Team and the Organizations.
- puts in his/her good effort but also help and supports all of their teammates to do the same.
- they offer suggestions that can help improve the work of the team or the way they do things, in an effort to make the team work better together.
Commitment is about winning — not in the sports sense of beating your opponent, but about seeing YOUR team succeed and know that you have actively contributed to that Team success.
‘Winning as a team is one of the great motivators of employee performance‘. Statistically, it has been observed that outstanding Team Players always have and show this motivation.
5. Active Participation & Collaboration
Not only you should carry your ‘own weight’ but you should also proactively collaborate with the other teammates to accomplish a particular task/ set of tasks.
An effective team player is also ‘responsible’ to help in maximizing and effectively utilizing the skills of his/her team members.S/he should work closely with his/her teammates to find the best possible solutions and to plan the actions that need to be taken to solve the relevant problems.
But while actively participating & collaborating in all team activities, s/he should also stay focused on the deadlines and objectives of the team; if and when needed, s/he should ‘gently’ steers his/her teammates to achieve the planned goals in a timely fashion.
Active participants always take the initiative to help make things happen, and they volunteer for assignments. Their ‘motto’ is : “What can I do to help the team succeed?”
6. Disciplined but Adaptable
That simple- be disciplined, but also be flexible and adoptable to your team’s needs and all forthcoming changes.
7. Reliable And Responsible / Following Through
An excellent team player should be reliable and responsible. You should expect them to:
- get their job/ tasks done on time.
- meet all commitments.
- get closure on what they say they are going to do
- follow up on all open items
- follow through on all assigned activities/ point s of action
- behave and work in a consistent manner
- you can count on them to deliver as agreed
8. Supportive & Empathetic
A good team player can put himself/ herself in another teammate’s shoes and understand a given situation from their teammate’s point of view. Even if it is strictly not his/her job or responsibility , you can expect him to give a few pointers that could help the other person out in one way or another.
Great Team Players, besides responding to requests for assistance, they take the initiative to offer help.
S/he also encourages the development of other team members.
9. Problem Solving
Teams, of course, deal with problems. Sometimes, it appears, that’s the whole reason why a team is created — to address problems
Good Team Players get problems out in the open for discussion and then collaborate with others to find solutions and form action plans; they always deal with all kinds of problems in a solutions-oriented manner.
They never look at a problem/ project and ignore it because it is too hard.
10. Respect for ALL
A good Team Player should always treat others in a respectful and supportive manner and they should be consistently courteous and considerate.
Obviously you should deal with other people in a professional manner, with courtesy and consideration — not just some of the time but consistently.
Respect is also about been tolerant of individual differences
There is no substitute for good manners and no excuse for poor ones.
11. Ethics, Integrity & Giving Recognition
Integrity is one of those fundamental pillars that sets the parameters for the organization’s success. Integrity and a strong commitment to work ethics, could creates a dynamic atmosphere and a “can-do” culture, where everyone genuinely strives to give their best performance and achieve the best results for the team.
Giving credit and recognition where it is due, is an essential part of creating a collaborative and supportive environment. If any team member concerned about their ideas being stolen, that would lead instantly to an atmosphere of distrust.
Also a good Team Player does not engage in win/lose activities with other teammates.
12. Sense of humor
A sense of humor is quite vital in being a good Team Player. And, do not underestimate also the power of a single friendly smile.
Being accountable for your and your team’s performance and decisions is part of making a strong contribution to a team effort.
You should “owns” the problems instead of ‘passing the bucket’ or blaming others or been supercreative in making lame excuses.
14. Compromises His/ Her Point Of View
A good team player should be ready to compromise his/ her point of view in support for the others. Such a person always considers and uses new ideas and suggestions from others.
15. Works for consensus on decisions
S/he involves others in the decision-making process and ideally has skills in understanding ‘what’s going on in the group’.
Thus, s/he influences others by involving them in the items/ issues that need to be addressed
The Extra Mile.
Going the extra mile, it is obviously both an act of commitment to the team and support to your team members.
And regarding going the extra mile: there are no traffic files there!!!
Tips for Managers
- Avoid the ‘I am the Manager/ Team leader – you must follow’ attitude.
- A good Team Leader/ Manager is/ should be an integral part of the Team.
- Rules are made for Everybody, including Managers.
- If you ignore them, how could you demand others to adhere to your or the organizations’ regulations, policies, procedures, business processes etc.
- Have Team KPIs!
- KPIs are not just for individuals – even small organizational units like teams should have KPIs (you can learn more by googling Performance Management)
- Assign seniors to coach junior team members or new ones.
- Obviously the Welfare of the Whole Team should be the priority.
- Aim in building a strong and gender balanced team
There is no Golden Set of Rule son how to be a good Team Player nor what really constitutes one. But, I hope that I have given you what -on the average- is expected by your manager(s) and also a ‘tool’ for Team Leaders to recognize which of their team members are great Team Players.
If you understand (maybe think and read a little bit more about it) what makes a great Team and a great Team Player, you will be well positioned to be the Greatest Team Player of All !
And always go that Extra Mile to help all people, whether teammates or not, please.
Thank you and Good Luck,