Opinion

6 ways to be a top team player

It’s long been proven that working as part of a team can achieve amazing results. Take Team GB in London 2012 for example - our very own hero from the East of England, Louis Smith, claimed that the experience of winning a medal as part of a team surpasses that of winning on your own.

OK, so not all of us aspire to create the perfect parallel bars performance, but we can take inspiration from teams like Britain’s gymnasts who clearly had a formula worthy of victory. Of course their medals were won thanks to years of training, but any team that wants to achieve a common goal needs team players willing to work together, bring their skills to the mix and share the responsibilities.

Whether you’re about to start a job where you’ll be a part of a busy team, or you’re preparing for a job interview, here are a few tips to help you become a committed team player.

Know your goal and role

You may be willing to work hard as a team member but you also need to know where you’re heading so you can apply your skills effectively. If you’re not sure what the overall aim is, ask your manager or team leader. Since every employee has a role to play in reaching that goal make sure you know what you’re responsible for. Whether you’re working on a short term project or you’re in it for the long haul, commit to achieving that outcome for everyone’s benefit.

Be part of team discussions

You don’t need to be the team extrovert to take part in team conflabs. A good team leader will bring the best out in you and value your thoughts. So don’t be afraid to put your ideas forward and ask questions. After all, your suggestion or query could be the thing that solves a problem or gives the team a new, refreshing perspective on a project.

Listen to others

Because you’re working closely with others you need to listen to them. Take the time to really hear and understand their opinions – even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying. Also be open to new ways of approaching tasks and don’t be offended if a colleague offers a bit of constructive criticism. If your colleagues treat the matter with respect it could help you develop your skills in ways you may not have otherwise thought of.

Be there for colleagues

A good team player knows it’s not all about them! You need to be willing to cooperate with colleagues and help them solve problems – especially if you’re more experienced. You could even become a mentor or a work buddy to a new colleague to really get them involved and help them understand what the team is striving to achieve. You could also be the motivating force to another team member if they’re having a bad day or dealing with an ongoing challenge.

Be open to developing new skills

Being a team member can be a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and share your own know-how. Lend your strengths and learn from others where you have weaknesses. Be prepared to try out new skills for the first time if you’re working on a solving a problem with a colleague.

Value the team’s work

Avoid the blame game and gossiping. Instead respect each person’s abilities and if mistakes are made be willing to discuss them with your colleagues. This positive attitude will support the team’s success, but dwelling on errors and spreading rumours can seriously put the brakes on everyone’s hard work. If you have a real concern, it’s best to talk it through with your line manager.

Being a top team player basically means being willing to engage with a diversity of co-workers to achieve that goal. Not only does this approach boost business and productivity, but you’ll also develop some great qualities that’ll impress future employers. So go on, get involved!