How to Be a Great Team Player
Maximizing Your Contribution to the Team
Teamwork is key to completing projects, and for the day-to-day running of organizations. So it's worth developing the skills that will improve your contribution – whichever type of team you're in.
Sports teams are excellent examples of how many players working together can achieve much more than one player who is acting alone. Often, different players take on different roles, according to their strengths – and by helping and encouraging one another along the way, some inspiring things can happen.
On the pitch and in the office, everyone on a team plays a different role based on their strengths. And by helping each other, you can make inspiring things happen.
In this article, we'll explore what makes a good team player and share tips on how to make a bigger contribution.
The Importance of Great Team Players
Whether your team is delivering a one-time project or works together on an ongoing basis, if you can add to a group's energy and creativity, the team can accomplish much more in less time.
When a group works well together, creativity levels are generally higher, as people tap into one another's strengths. This often leads to increased productivity, and a sense of collaboration and cooperation that moves everyone – and the project – forward.
And working well with others can impact your career, too. If your boss sees what a great job you're doing, you may be asked to take on higher profile, or even business-critical, projects. And you could be top of the list for the next promotion!
9 Ways to Become a Great Team Player
Every team needs great team players. Here are nine tips for becoming a top team player – and bringing the rest of the team with you.
1. Use Your Strengths
Perhaps you're incredibly organized. Maybe you excel at motivating people. What about conflict resolution, or project management?
When you find a role within your team that lets you be your best, you’ll make a more meaningful contribution. Plus, it's usually much easier – and more satisfying – to do tasks you're naturally good at.
There are many reputable and fascinating models on the formation and structure of a team.
To learn about the different "roles" people take on, and how individuals fit together in a team, check out Belbin's Team Roles, Benne and Sheats' Group Roles, and Margerison-McCann Team Management Profile.
2. Understand the Team's Objectives
When teams don't function well, it's often because there's a lack of communication and understanding about what the group's objectives are.
If you want to be a good team player, make sure you understand the group's goals. Ask yourself key questions such as:
- Why are we here?
- What is the "perfect ending" to this project?
- What is our deadline?
- How often will we meet?
- What is our budget?
- Who is in charge of implementing our ideas?
- What roles and responsibilities will each of us have?
Be clear about what you're there to do. This way, you'll complete your tasks to the best of your abilities.
3. Be Reliable
It's frustrating when team members make promises they don't keep. What’s more, it can really slow a group's progress.
You can be a great asset to your team simply by delivering what you said you would – on time. If you commit to completing something for the group by the end of the day, make sure you do it, or speak up if something’s stopping you. If you say you'll attend the 3:30 p.m. meeting, don't be late.
Being reliable also applies to the specific work you do for the group. If you have high standards, people will depend on you to produce quality work. If your output is excellent one day, but only average the next, your work might be seen as inconsistent.
4. Be a Good Communicator
Be involved and active within the group. If you sit silently while someone else discusses an idea that you know won't work, you could damage the team's chances of achieving its outcomes. If you've got an alternative suggestion that might be more effective, then share it with the group.
And the opposite applies as well: if people discuss a plan that you think is great, then speak up. They might really need and appreciate your support, even if they don't show it.
When you communicate with your team members – whether showing support or challenging their thinking – it's important to stay positive and respectful. Keep your thoughts and input objective and fair, and try your best not to get upset and angry.
If you find the idea of public speaking nerve-racking, even within your team, see our article Impromptu Speaking Skills for tips on becoming a more confident speaker. Our article How to Build Self-Confidence will teach you how to build (or rebuild) your self-belief and ability to put yourself forward.
5. Stay Flexible
Things can change quickly in a team environment. People can come and go, budgets get cut, and goals redefined.
The best team players know how to be flexible. They don't fight change – instead, they see it as an opportunity for growth.
Your willingness to remain comfortable and positive in a constantly changing environment is an important business skill – and your boss will likely notice.
6. Don't Cherry-Pick Projects
It can be tempting to choose only those projects that seem easier, that offer more benefits or suit your existing skills. But if you choose more difficult projects, and accept what's offered to you, your boss (and likely others) will notice your willingness to take on a challenge – and it will pay off in the long term.
Plus, taking on challenges is an important part of keeping yourself engaged and your skillset sharp. And who knows, you might even discover some hidden talents!
7. Support Other People on Your Team
Offer positive feedback, and be prepared to provide help if colleagues need it. Your willingness to collaborate and help others will make a good impression on both the group and management.
It will also more likely be reciprocated in the event you find yourself needing help, all of which has a positive impact on the team’s overall output. A supportive team is a productive team.
8. Share Information and Resources With Your Team
Remember, you're all there for one purpose – and by keeping everyone informed, you contribute to that goal.
If resources are hidden or not readily accessible, let your colleagues know how to find them. If you have past experiences or knowledge that can help others, then offer it. Your teammates will appreciate the help and likely share more in return.
This will also build good working relationships with your colleagues, further improving teamwork – and your career potential.
9. Keep a Positive Attitude
If you complain, delay, or give the tough assignments to others, people will notice – and they may pay you back in kind. A positive attitude is a precious asset, one that’s indispensable for your own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of others, too.
Negative thinking erodes your self-confidence and can damage your work relationships. Turn it around with conscious attempts to think positively, including using affirmations to banish negative thoughts.
Being a good team player isn't always easy. But there are several things you can do to become a great team player. They are:
- Use your strengths.
- Understand the team's objectives.
- Be reliable.
- Be a good communicator.
- Stay flexible.
- Don't cherry-pick projects.
- Support other people on your team.
- Share information and resources with your team.
- Keep a positive attitude.
With cooperation, dedication, commitment, and a willingness to get involved, you'll make a good impression on everyone – including your boss – and the team will be the better for it.
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