Team productivity always boils down to team dynamics. Also, team members and their interactions matter more and more. And teams exist to synergies and cooperate. Our series explores some of the most valuable tips on how to be a better team player.
Without further ado, here are 7 more methods and attitudes that will help you be a better team member. In case you missed the first part of our teamwork guide, you can always read it here.
#8 Cultivate team trust.
Developing trust can be a challenge. Remember how easy it used to be when you were young? You could easily strike a friendship with anyone. And that’s because children are more adaptable. Also, they are more like to trust other children. It seems like everything is easier for children. But adults need to cultivate trust. So why not do precisely that? Have a standard childlike approach to trust.
Firstly, assume everyone is worthy of your trust. This makes you open. And being open is a positive emotion. Also, the opposite of being open is being guarded. That makes everybody shut down. Secondly, consider some essential team trainings.
#9 Be reliable.
Being reliable is simple. You don’t have to do something. Instead, you have to NOT do some things. Firstly, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Always fall back to your experience and call it as it is. Also, if you can’t do something, don’t say you will. Tell your team the truth. Think about it, it’s easy. Just say “I can do it in 20 hours, 8 hours is not enough”.
Secondly, don’t submit sloppy work. Your team counts on you. And you want to inspire trust. A great deal of productivity is lost when your team has to recheck your work.
Lastly, don’t be ambiguous about your time, progress and situation. Instead, make clear statements of personal deadlines and limits. Your team should know you need something by 5. Same thing with you letting everyone know you’re ready by 5. Or that you won’t be coming in the next day.
#10 Teamwork is like a box of chocolates. Don’t cherry-pick.
You never know what you will get next. Some will taste nice. Others will taste odd. Projects and tasks are going to fluctuate. Some you will like. Others you will hate.
Here’s the thing. People like to know you’re dependable. Sure, you will like some tasks better than others. Others will make you responsible over something for no particular benefit. Nor satisfaction. But you should never avoid certain tasks.
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In fact, even if you can trade with a teammate, don’t. Instead, rise to the challenge and prove your worth. You’re a person. Be adaptable. Deal with the tasks you don’t like. Self-improvement works like that. It is adversity that helps us learn.
#11 Be like water.
Change is the only true permanence. Sounds creepy? That’s because we’re quoting Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. Right after quoting Bruce Lee.
With any team, things will change. Statistically speaking, one of your teammates will leave by the end of the year. Also, it is very likely you will have a new team member join you in the next 6 months. That new member will need onboarding. And this will change the responsibilities of team members. While this might not affect you directly, it will affect your team. And soon you will have responsibilities you did not have a few months back.
Other things can happen as well. Strategies can change. Goals can change. Your team leader might start using micro-goals. Or your digital marketing budget is cut and now you only do videos.
Welcome change. This is what allows you to be your better self. And change what allows you to support your teammates. Most of all, change is what makes you valuable. Just make sure you change for the better.
#12 Give feedback regularly.
A lot of people think they know what feedback is. Yet they fail miserably at offering proper feedback. And this happens frequently. Even when people have received amazing feedback. Somehow, feedback is a tough nut to crack. It could be due to the fact that most people are conflict-averse. To them, offering feedback is a challenge. They assume that feedback is criticism. And it gets even worse with harmonizing introverts and extroverts.
Let’s clarify. Firstly, feedback isn’t criticism. Feedback is energy spent on improving something. Secondly, feedback should always be positive. If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all. And clearly there is a way that you can help a person improve after receiving feedback. So go ahead and do that, offer a solution. Lastly, feedback isn’t optimizing. Optimizing is something entirely different. So don’t try to offer feedback with optimizations. That makes any positive feedback turn into criticism.
Instead, separate the two. First, offer the correct feedback for task A. Then explain: “This just gave me an idea.” Make sure you explain how the idea is shared work. After all, your inspiration was refraining from offering “optimizers” in your feedback. Also, use this type of feedback in smart meetings.
#13 Be the right amount of “active.”
This is a challenge. One of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to be proactive. The modern issue with being too active is that you can de-energize teammates. Or create goal-contagion on unrelated events. Such as your marathon challenge.
And that’s precisely it. Of course, being proactive is not the same as being too active. And sometimes being less active has advantages. For example, contemplating various issues with great focus.
The secret is to be “active and involved”. This works well when you’re trying to listen. Active listening means you can understand better. Also, it means you can make others feel understood. But being “the right amount of active” is all about control. Sometimes you should volunteer to do something nobody else wants to. Other times you should let someone else do it.
Think about being active as if it were a conversation. You shouldn’t keep your mouth shut forever. Nor should you turn it into a monologue. Let’s face it, being “active” is about finding balance. Within yourself and with your team.
#14 Make sure you understand your role.
During recruiting you will be selected on top of other candidates with similar skill and backgrounds. And you’ve applied to the job for several reasons. One of these reasons is self-evaluated fitness for the job description.
But most teams expect you to go above and beyond your job description. And so you should. The only way for you to develop professionally is to go above and beyond your job description. This does not mean that you should spend 12 hours a day on the job. Tasks you are not qualified to perform are also off the table.
But you need to outperform on those skills you bring to the table. A great example is Picard’s team on Star Trek the next generation. Everybody knows their role. Proper hierarchy applies only when necessary. People are expected to perform better than the standard of their role.
That’s easy to understand. It’s goal contagion again. People want to be surrounded by achievers. It boosts overall productivity. And understanding your role is like figuring out what part of the recipe your work is.
More teamwork tips in the last part of our Teamwork Guide, coming up soon.