The Teamwork Guide: How to Be a Better Team Player (Part 3)

Team players always focus on team efforts. And teamwork and productivity go hand in hand. When every team member does a brilliant job, the overall results will match. And it’s our job to make sure we accommodate the team.

Even romantic relationships can be difficult to find and develop. And those typically involve 2 people. Recruiting, onboarding and developing a team member can be even more difficult. Firstly, there are many more people involved. Secondly, the incentives and end goals are different. Lastly, the strategy may or may not be based on exclusivity.

Truth be told, teams go through a long and difficult process to ensure the “right fit.” And that’s why teamwork doesn’t just happen. And it’s not too much to ask for a team player to step up and meet the team level. It might sound surprising. But today being “good at teams” is still a skill.

Teamwork Guide: How to Be a Better Team Player

So let’s continue going through some of the most valuable tips on being a better team player.

Firstly, a quick recap of previous tips we have went through so far:

#1 Onboard your skillset and your greatest talents.

#2 Lead by example, even if you’re not the team leader.

#3 Develop a mindset in which your team comes first.

#4 Bring your positive emotions to the team.

#5 Remove negativity from your behavior.

#7 Build meaningful relationships with team members.

#8 Cultivate team trust.

#9 Be reliable.

#10 Teamwork is like a box of chocolates. Don’t cherry-pick.

#11 Be like water.

#12 Give feedback regularly.

#13 Be the right amount of “active.”

#14 Make sure you understand your role.

Secondly, pick 2 tips that you can best integrate in your daily routine. And now let us go through 7 more methods that will help you become a better team player.

#15 Always over-deliver for your team.

While “underpromise and overdeliver” is a cliché in the business world, the reverse holds true in teams. Oftentimes, “underpromising” is not really an option in a team. However, it’s often a very good idea to over-deliver. Here’s why.

The “norm” today is for people to deliver. That’s expected and accepted. It’s called doing your job, right? You do what you have to do. And your team gets what it needs. However, the equation is pretty simple:

your standard “delivery” package + your team putting in a standard effort = no competitive advantage => smaller chunk of the market => reduced profit margins

And that’s precisely the issue. One extra “unit of personal investment” may significantly impact your R.O.I. On a personal level and as a team effort.

It’s not about being your best self. In fact, some recruiters discount your exceptional qualities. So, instead assume you’ll perform in the 70-90% range of your advertised qualities.

Think about it this way. Over-delivering means placing yourself at the level your teams need you. This is an opportunity to push yourself and your abilities upwards. Being good at what you do means that you deliver. Becoming great means that you over-deliver.

#16 Embrace diversity.

The past 5-7 decades have made most workplaces relatively diverse. Sure, there are not enough female coders. And in most countries, minorities and immigrants still face some issues when it comes to working in a team.

While the tech gap is slowly changing, it’s important to note that most workplaces are diversity-friendly.  That does not mean that they are diversity-aware. We’ve explained it before that diversity awareness is key. And that every company and every team should have at least one training in diversity.

However, the type of diversity you should embrace is of a different nature. To be a better team player, the diversity you need to embrace is no longer interpersonal. Rather, it is abstract.

In a sense, it’s as simple as accepting that other people may have different opinions. And that your opinion is not necessarily the right one. To a greater degree, however, it is about accepting that a plurality of perspectives is a wealth of knowledge. And most teams today are made of knowledge workers.

So try and open up. You know you don’t hold the ultimate truth. Nobody does. Instead, treat your team like a scatter plot. And draw that trend line. Now you know where to look.

# 17 Always practice active listening.

Active listening is a lot about knowing how to do 3 things.

Firstly, knowing how to give proper feedback. And not just nodding and smiling. Rather, try and meet the posture of your interlocutor. It will help you better understand how they feel while communicating with you. Imitation is not just flatter. It is empathy.

Secondly, know how to ask the right questions. There’s no better proof of having listened. And asking the right questions proves you understood the conversation. They suggest that you are actively furthering your knowledge.

Lastly, make sure you will remember what was said. You could use a few strategies for memorization. Or simply try and take a few notes, if adequate.

Overall, understand that people communicating with you are awarding you their focus. They are using effort and energy to transmit knowledge. Meet that transmission in kind. Effective communications are crucial to teams.

# 18 Be in touch with your feelings.

It might sound awkward. Or even beyond the scope of how to be a team player. But not being in touch with your feelings affects how you relate. And how you empathize and understand others. All these are crucial to team synergy.

And you can end up having poor relations with others. Or even yourself. Also, being in touch with your feelings means you gain better control over your moods.

Productivity is affected by your state of mind. You can reduce your productivity by more than a third when you’re in a foul mood. In fact, you can even get ill.

Being in touch with your feelings means that you know why you feel a certain way. And labeling your emotion is the first step to address the issue. So put some time aside regularly and try and catch up with how you feel.

# 19 Always move towards consensus.

A diversity of perspectives is a wealth of knowledge, it’s true. And conflict management may not always be the best thing for your team. Also true. So why is it valuable to move towards consensus?

Because it saves time. When you move towards consensus, you’re saving everybody’s time. Your entire team gets significant productivity hours back as a result.

On the other hand, debating any issue can bring forth creative solutions. Delaying a decision might ensure it won’t be the wrong one.

As a team player, you should make sure you validate consensus. If there is none to be validate, your job is to create it. For teams, consensus is dry land. Without it, everybody drifts away.

Your role is to spot consensus as soon as possible. And your team will be better off this way. Agreeableness is one key feature of team players. And this increases team effectiveness.

# 20 Focus on win-wins.

You should try and only engage teammates in win-win activities. This develops trusts and positivity. Activities that are win-lose result in unwanted competition. And it’s negative experiences such as these that drastically affect productivity.

Any activity in which both you and another team member stand to gain is OK. Suppose you can get a discounted gym ticket if you bring along a team member. That’s a great way to share a discount.

Here’s the thing. “Win” and “Lose” are relative. Sometimes the distance between wins can create the illusion of loss.

Imagine we both work on a project and I get a pack of gum and you get a promotion. Rationally, I just gained a pack of gum. It’s a win. But it won’t count as a win considering your promotion.

Engaging in win-lose activities of any kind will poison team spirit. Your collaborations will suffer. And your mates will build you a reputation. That’s right, behind your back.

That’s why team players are always about the WIN-WIN.

# 21 Develop your team members.

Take an interest in your teammates. They are responsible for your success and failures. You are responsible for their success and failures. As a team, you are a unit of focalized power. You can do great things and overcome great obstacles. As individuals, you are more prone to failure. You will most likely snap if the pressure is too high.

A team is, in some ways, a structure. Reinforcing parts of the structure benefits the entire structure. All you have to do is pick the right parts and the right reinforcement.

Share your knowledge and your skills. You don’t need to fear being replaced. You should only fear that not having developed your team members brought forth failure.

For more inspiration, feel free to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of The Teamwork Guide: How to Be a Better Team Player.

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