Teamwork makes the dream work. The old adage has turned into a cliche and is primarily utilized for sarcasm at this point, but its premise still holds true. In most situations, working as a cohesive team will push you further towards (and even past) your goals and ambitions than working alone. It’s nice to use these played-out sayings that poetically express how important teamwork is, but something, what’s missing for many of us is truly understanding what it means to be a team player. There are many elements of teamwork to take into account when assessing your ability to be an individual within a team.
Here are some tips that will help you reconsider teamwork and how you can be an integral part of the many teams you belong to!
Find Ways to Contribute
We all have our assigned roles and daily mundane tasks to take care of. But besides merely fulfilling your responsibilities, what else would a “stellar team player” do? Maybe you come up with a good idea that could help productivity in another department. Offer your ideas. Maybe you have a particular skill you picked up from a prior role that could help a colleague in or outside of your team. Offer that help. Making yourself accessible and having an understanding of your positive attributes beyond your job description is a large component of being a great team player.
One of humankind’s most underutilized skills is listening. Sometimes, we’re so caught up with what we want to say that we miss opportunities to connect and create amazing work with our colleagues. Developing the ability to actively listen to one another, no matter which team, department, or position in the company hierarchy, is incredibly important. Check out this awesome TED talk that details listening and how to become a better listener.
In addition to the first tip, which is finding ways to contribute, it’s equally important to accept help when it’s offered. A struggle that many ambitious professionals go through is wanting to own every little thing they put their hands on. While it’s great to take ownership of one’s work and to strive to do the best of your individual ability in making an impact at your workplace, these traits often manifest into a “me vs. them” mentality. Accepting help makes you more authentic and approachable when other colleagues may need your help down the road.
Offer and Solicit Feedback
Ask your colleagues for honest feedback. When we get into the vortex of loving our own work, we sometimes get stuck in a loop of self-confirmation and miss obvious opportunities for improvement. In the same vein, offer honest feedback to colleagues who want or need it. Spoiler alert: feedback doesn’t always have to be flattery and overly kind. You can offer genuine critiques, but do it in a way that is thoughtful and constructive while giving your coworker a chance to improve.
Making it Last
Whether you already possess many of the traits outlined above or you wish to incorporate them into your arsenal of soft skills, it’s difficult to make these changes instantly. The effort to be a stellar team player in the workplace over time is not so much an “achievable goal” but more of a lifelong ambition that we can always improve on, no matter who we are or where we currently stand in our professions. Keep this in mind as you consider ways in which you can hone in on your personal development as a team player. In the wise words of six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”