How to Be a Good Team Member
Some individuals work best alone, but others are best when at work with others on a team that communicates well, shares ideas, and offers camaraderie. Others have the best of both worlds -- These fortunate people are able to work in both styles during a day on the job!
Good Team Members Are Important
At work, at school, on a committee, or in a club or volunteer organization, you will likely find yourself as a member of a team at some point in time. Work teams are becoming increasingly more popular in the world of work.
In schools, youth are finding more and more assignments given them that must be done as a team project, with all members receiving the same grade, regardless of the individual effort.
What does this all mean, exactly, and how should you contribute to a team?
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.— Michael Jordan, NBA star
You will likely find yourself as a member of a team at some point in time.
Characteristics of a Teams and Good Team Members
There are different sorts of teams and two types are dominant:
- Vertical teams and
- Horizontal teams.
The vertical (tall) team is a hierarchy arranged in a pecking order with the boss at the top of the heap.
This is a team in which the upper tiers give the instructions and the lower tiers of employees or participants follow them. Work may not seem like a team effort at the bottom of the hierarchy, but this configuration is indeed a team, because every member of this team is important.
Hopefully, upper tiers listen to the input and ideas of the downline players and major projects are accomplished with good results. One tier of participants out of step can stop the whole production, like a bogged down assembly line.
Roosters Establishing a Pecking Order
The pecking order is, literally, determined by pecking. Bigger, stronger, and more aggressive chickens bully their way to the top of the flock.— Brian Barth, 3/16/2016 at ModernFarmer.com
It takes two flints to make a fire.— Louisa May Alcott, author
The horizontal (flat) team is a team that more people will likely accept, because it is more like King Arthur's Round Table, where everyone had equal status.
This is a group of people on similar levels of status and authority, although supervisors can be on the teams as well as subordinates and outside consultants.
Regardless of the type of team operating at work, it is useful for team members to display and embrace these characteristics:
Integrity and Trust.
If team members are not honest with others and themselves, then the project is doomed. Teams must be thoroughly trustworthy and able to trust others as well. A team leader especially must be able to sense insecurity and ingenuineness. Members and the rteam leader must be dependable and able to discuss topics and issues freely with a mind toward solving problems and delivering an outstanding project result.
A belief, ala Star Trek®, that "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."
The team effort must come before any team member's own personal or professional agenda in the organiztion or group during the project. Members must commit to people ini general and have a desire to support and serve one another, the organization, and their end customer or client.
Respect for Authority.
Team members and the team leader must respect one another. Members must also accept the role of the leader openly and supportively. All should be polite and courteous to customers, clients, and others served by the project as well. There should be no gossip about team members oir the rteam leader withitn the team or outside of it with others. Gossip is ugly and make the gossiper look ugly as well.
All projects require certain skills. If team members do not have the required skills, they must be trained or replaced in the business world. Outside of work, it is not useful to volunteer for a team requiring certain skills if one is not qualified to serve and there is not enough time to learn.
Readiness to Share Knowledge and Ideas
Team members should contribute openly, with integrity and take care about others' feelings when communicating. There should be no competition that will destroy the project and no attention-getting behaviors. A team member freely contributes time, energy, and enthusiasm.
Readiness to take personal responsibility for some element of the team's current project.
These folks do not hide within a crowd in order to avoid work. They accept assignments or step forward and ask for them. They will encourage others as well.
Good team members support the team leader with suggestions for and new ideas. This can lead to the leadership being shared later with those that participate more fully.
Teams allow individual skills and giftings to shine and be understood and used. The team leader and the other members want any single member to be energetic and eager to participate in the project at hand.
Follow Through and Delivering One's Commitments.
This person does not call in sick the day before an assignment for the team project is due. Members must commit to the success of the team. If they agree to carry out tasks, then they must do so. If anyone does not, the other members will lose confidence in the slacker.
If there is a problem, then the person who is having difficulty in meeting their assignments must admit it and ask for help before it is too late.
Productive Interpersonal Skills.
Effective communication is vital. Team members must be talented in listening, writing, and oral language skills. Conflict handling and negotiating skills are becoming more and more important in any group.
Welcome Constructive Feedback.
A useful team member asks for and accepts feedback, and readily works for continuous improvement.
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.— Helen Keller
- U.S. National Institute for Literacy. Equipped For the Future. www.nifl.gov
- Inglish, P. Teamwork and Cooperation in the Workplace; class series written and taught at Private Industry Council; ©1995 - 2005.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS