What skills do I need to be an effective team player?
Why it is important to be an effective team player
Teams are created in business for a number of reasons. Sometimes they are established to deliver a one-off project, and many activities need a team setup to ensure work is always covered regardless of the availability of individual team members. The latter may be more correctly called a work group than a team, as goals and accountability are individual rather than collective.
In a good team “the sum is greater than the parts, so management can take advantage of a group’s collective energy and creativity, enabling a team to accomplish more than the individuals. When a group works well together, creativity levels increase, as people play off each other’s strengths. This leads to increased productivity, and a sense of collaboration and cooperation that moves the project forward. So, many people work together in a teams on an ongoing basis.
It is worth spending a little time considering the composition and dynamics of a team. Successful teams don’t just combine different technical skills; they also require members to take on general roles that cross traditional functional lines. Everyone pitches in, and the team works together in perfect harmony.
There are several theories about team dynamics, but all recognise that team members fulfil certain roles in the team, and also that the same person can fulfil a different role in several teams, to merge with the group.
The Belbin model can be used to ensure a team has the right balance of strengths and weaknesses. It says that people assume one of nine “team roles”:
Shapers – challenge the team to improve.
Implementers – get things done.
Completer-Finishers – ensure projects are completed.
Coordinators – traditional team leader role.
Team Workers – negotiators,-make sure the team is working together.
Resource Investigators – work with external stakeholders to meet team’s objectives.
Plants – come up with new ideas and approaches.
Monitor-Evaluators – analyse and evaluate ideas.
Specialists – have required specialist knowledge
From “Belbin Team Roles” published online at Belbin.com.
Benne and Sheats’ Group Roles identifies positive and negative behaviour within a group. Some team members are helpful and supportive, others just want to get the task competed, some cause disagreement in the team.
There are 26 group roles, divided into the following categories, which can be played by one or more people within the team.
Task Roles – take a project to completion. Roles include Information Seeker, Opinion Giver, and Evaluator/Critic.
Personal and/or Social Roles – help the group function well, and include Encourager, Compromiser, and Gatekeeper/Expediter.
Dysfunctional and/or Individualistic Roles – cause discord in the group, and can disrupt progress. Include Aggressor, Dominator, and Recognition Seeker.
From “Functional Roles of Group Members,” in Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 4, Issue 2.
Effective team player
It follows therefore that teams are finely balanced, and the characteristics and personalities of the members “gel “together. The introduction of a new team member can disrupt and distort the group.
A recognised team player however, is a safe bet to introduce to a team, because they have demonstrated the ability to fit into the group, adopt whatever role is available, not rock the boat, but strengthen the team dynamic.
An effective team player uses their strengths, clearly understands their role, and stays flexible and reliable until the project is completed. They are positive, helping others, are cooperative and willing to work hard.
It is important that you are recognised and acknowledged as having the ability to work well with others, as this could have a major impact on your career by opening up new opportunities for you.
If you are asked to join a project team, then leaders may see for themselves how you work and what you can achieve in the team. This could lead to inclusion in higher profile, business-critical projects. If you make a good impression there, all kinds of possibilities might open for you.
Team working is such an important way of completing projects that it’s worth developing and refining the skills that will enable you to make a valuable contribution to any team.
What are the Qualities of an Effective Team Player?
Effective team players deal with other people in a professional manner, at all times. Their behaviour is always appropriate and beyond reproach, upholding the highest standards.
A good team member can always be relied on. Relied on to get work done, do their fair share, work hard, and meet commitments, follow through on assignments. Not usually, always .Whatever is required. They will be there, doing their bit.
If they commit to completing something for the group by the end of the day, they’ll complete it. If they say they will represent the group at a 10.00 am meeting, they will be at the 10am meeting, you don’t need to check they haven’t forgotten. They’ll do it,
Their standards are consistent. You can depend on them to produce quality work. If output is excellent one day, but average other days, the team may regard you as being inconsistent and even unreliable.
An effective team member communicates constructively by expressing their opinions, thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly. They contribute to the discussion in a positive, confident, and respectful manner.
If the group discusses an idea that a good team member know won’t work, and that could damage the team’s chances of achieving its outcomes, they speak up, but constructively. If they’ve got an alternative suggestion that might be more effective, they will share it with the group.
If the group discuss a plan they think is great, they will speak up to support it, and say what an inspiring idea it is.
And if their idea is not picked up, they don’t harp on about it, they go with the group decision and get on with whatever has been agreed with as much enthusiasm as if it was their own idea.
An effective team member is consistently objective and fair, positive and respectful. They don’t become emotional, even if they disagree.
An important part of the success of the team is that team players absorb, understand, and consider ideas and opinions without arguing every point. They listen to ideas, and build on the good ones, taking them further, strengthening them, and considering implications. To do this you have to be actively listening and evaluating, not just waiting for your turn to speak.
For effective communication and problem solving, team members have the discipline to listen first and speak second, which results in meaningful dialogue that builds on ideas.
Good team players are active participants. They arrive at team meetings prepared for the agenda, and listen and contribute to discussions. They are fully engaged in the teams work and completely committed.
Take the initiative
They help make things happen, and volunteer for assignments. Their attitude is can-do: “How can I contribute to the team’s success?”
Willing to Share
They share information, knowledge, and experience, and will make the effort to keep other team members informed and up to date.
A lot of teamwork is achieved through informal communication rather than through discussion at organized meetings. An effective team members feels comfortable talking to others, keeping them up to date on important news and information day-to-day. , keeping other team members in the loop with information and expertise that helps get the task achieved.
Although there may be differences with other team members, they will find ways to work together to solve problems. They will help others, and take the initiative to offer help.
Sometimes the only constant is change. Budgets change, timescales change, the task evolves to something bigger. Effective team players take it in their stride, and adapt to ever-changing situations. They don’t complain or get stressed, but accept the necessity and deal with it. This allows the team to take advantage of new opportunities that arise during the project.
Flexible team players are also able to consider different points of views and compromise as necessary .They don’t hold rigidly to a point of view when the team needs to move forward to make a decision or get something done. Strong team players are firm in their thoughts, but still open to new ideas.
This ability to remain comfortable and positive in a constantly changing environment is an important business skill, and one that will get you noticed.
Committed to the team
Strong team players care about their own work, the team members, and the team’s work. They demonstrate this every day with their effort, care and commitment.
Team players with commitment care about the team’s overall task .Their commitment is about seeing the team succeed in their task, knowing they have contributed to the success. Success of the team is a great motivator of employee performance.
Team players don’t hide problems, or potential problems. They tackle them head on, highlight problems, put them up for discussion and then collaborate with others to find solutions and form action plans.
Courteous and Supportive
Effective Team members show consideration, understanding and support of other team members to help achieve goals. They don’t put conditions on when or how they will help, when they will listen, and when they will share information. They just pitch in as needed.
A sense of humour and love of fun is always welcome in a team. Quite simply, effective team players deal with other people in a professional manner.
Understand the Team’s Objectives
Sometimes groups don’t function well, because there’s a lack of communication and understanding about the group’s objectives. To ensure you are an effective team player, be clear about what you need to do so that you complete your tasks to the best of your abilities.
Ask key questions like;-
- What is our objective?
- What would perfect outcome to this project look like?
- What is the deadline?
- How often will we meet?
- What is the budget?
- Who is in charge of implementing our plans ideas?
- What roles and responsibilities will each of us have?
Team Member Tips
Be willing to accept difficult projects and you’ll earn a reputation for being a courageous and diligent worker. Management will notice your willingness to take on a challenge, and it will pay off in the long term.
Support your team members by offering positive feedback, and providing help if they need it. Your willingness to collaborate and help others will be noticed by management and will make a lasting impression on both the group and management.
Share information and resources with your team. Remember, you’re all in it together, and this will contribute to the goal. If you have past experiences or knowledge that can help, speak up.
Maintain a positive attitude. Don’t complain, or give the difficult parts to others, A positive attitude is motivational and will help others stay focused and productive