#1 Onboard your skillset and your greatest talents.
When you join a team, they might not know all that you have to offer. And that means you’re underperforming.
So make sure you truly join in, not just tag along. Clearly, you can’t start your first day with a new group explaining why you’re so great and how. After all, that’s what interviews are for.
Instead, offer to go the extra mile and get involved in those things you think you can contribute to. You will either learn you have a lot to offer or that you have a lot to learn. Sure, you need to play the hand you’re dealt. Play on your strengths. And offer all you have to offer. But also make sure your team knows where you need development.
#2 Lead by example, even if you’re not the team leader.
This is true for leaders, but also for other members. And it’s even more true for teams that don’t have an established leader. What happens when you set an example? Firstly, what you do is show your colleagues that you are willing to go the extra mile. Secondly, what you achieve is offering a modest source of inspiration.
It’s simple: push forward with your hard work. Do everything with a touch of passion. We are living in a free world and your work is your choice. In fact, your work is the result of your choices, long before working with this team. Or even getting this job.
To lead by example, you need to hold yourself to a higher standard. A personal standard, one that emanates from your maturity. You are a responsible adult. And you find meaning in your work. Moreover, you are proud of improving.
The result of team members leading by example is similar to goal contagion. Everybody pumps up their performance and tries to level with your drive.
#3 Develop a mindset in which your team comes first.
You can see it in most sports. There are no team sports in which one player does it all. Well, there are bad team dynamics. When this happens, good players have to compensates. Most often, it takes a good group effort to make good players happen. And that’s rare.
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The strategic player, however, will look at the team as means to reach specific goals. Also, a strategic player understands the team as a larger, similarly minded entity. And one of the best ways to ensure mutual success is investing in the team.
Shared goals, shared costs. And whenever you need to put in those extra hours do so. That’s what makes the difference. Also, whenever you reach results, give credit to whom it is due. And it is never due to you. Rather, credit is always due to the team.
This doesn’t mean that you have to exaggerate. Although there’s no clear-cut measure, you should try and keep yourself marginally above the average of irregular extra-efforts. Sounds complicated? That’s because we’re trying to abstract something that should be a gut feeling.
Instead, think about it this way. Your team is your boat. If your boat is sinking and you can do something, just do it. Hence, you need to put in what’s needed to keep the boat together.
#4 Bring your positive emotions to the team.
Might be counterintuitive, but it works for several reasons. Firstly, people respond to emotional cues. That’s how empathy works. And with positive emotions, your whole team lights up. And they don’t even know why.
Secondly, positivity is always win-win. Everybody feels better after a positive interaction. And it’s not just birthdays and other special events. When you bring positivity at work, other people can even empathize with your postural cues. They start feeling more positive without an explanation.
Lastly, bringing personal positivity to the team implicitly means that you need to keep negativity at bay.
#5 Remove negativity from your behavior.
Although it might sound esoteric, it is not. Negative energy is toxic. And you can see it in real life, all the time. For example, complaining. When you complain about your tasks or responsibilities, you create negative energy.
How? Our minds follow a very simple logic. When someone complains, there must be something wrong. What could it be? Consider that the one complaining is a team member. A fellow. Also, it must mean that what is wrong cannot be overcome. It is a source of pain and distress for everybody.
And it does more damage than being a distraction. It is the unknown “bad thing” that causes unwarranted stress and anxiety. And to nobody’s benefit. Removing negativity is one of the best ways to better yourself as a team member.
#7 Build meaningful relationships with team members.
You’re part of a team. And that’s amazing. Every day you work on common goals. And you celebrate milestones. Yet how often is it that you get to meet the people you work with outside work?
Times are changing. People are doing part of their work from home. Nobody really follows the cue of the 8-hour workday. And work relationships also follow that trend.
Clearly, you are not expected to make no difference between your private life and your work life. But lines are fading anyway. When was the last time you and a colleague spent extra hours working on something?
Similarly, make a step outside work and connect with your team. And you should also try and know your team better. Listen and understand them. Also, try to see what motivates them. Rather than make yourself known, try and see what the others are. This is a fundamental type of interpersonal courtesy. But ask yourself this. Is there more that you can do? If yes, go ahead and do it.
Showing a genuine interest in others can never become a sunken cost. That’s the secret key to optimizing team collaboration.
More tips on teamwork coming up soon. Stay tuned for The Teamwork Guide: How to Be a Better Team Player (Part 2)!