Professionalism – Being a Team Player

Work teams continue to be recognized as a way to achieve greater productivity and to identify future leaders. Following these guidelines will aid success.

Being a Team Player

As technology advances and projects become more complicated, the importance of being able to work as part of a team becomes much more essential to individuals looking to move up in an organization. The need to be an individual contributor still exists, but managers also desire the ability to be a team player for those selected for senior management positions. Being assigned to a team project is an opportunity to grow professionally, impress members of the senior leadership team, and more importantly, build lasting relationships with peers that can hold a person in good stead for years into the future. In some cases, these relationships will transcend company affiliation as people progress in their career.

Performing well on a team demonstrates to others that they are capable of making a contribution as a team member. It also means hard work because each team member relies on the other team members; failure on the part of one person can mean the difference between success and failure for the entire team. Trust and communication are essential elements of the team: anyone who doesn’t have these personal traits is less likely to be successful on a team.

Another point to consider is that a person does not need to be the team leader to be a standout member of the team. Every team member plays a key role. As a person grows in abilities on a team, opportunities to take a leadership role will appear. This isn’t some sort of magic: rather it is a plan of superior leaders and managers to evaluate and grow future leaders and top performers in the organization.

So what are some of the traits and behaviors that a person should develop and demonstrate during a team assignment?

1. Respect for fellow team members, the team leader and those the team interacts with in their effort to complete the project. If the team members have mutual respect for each other it will generate even more respect; this works wonders in creating an environment wherein people enjoy working. This includes being honest with each other: dishonesty is a form of disrespect.

2. Take responsibility. Nothing speaks louder about the character of an individual than their willingness to take responsibility for their own actions and the people who work for them. The reverse of this is also true. Senior managers will not tolerate a mid level manager for very long if the new manager is always blaming subordinates for poor results. Part of being responsible is to ask for help if it appears that the team lacks the necessary resources to deliver the project on time or as required. Failure to ask for help when it is needed is a sure way to make the team look bad; the result could bode ill for the company.

3. Offer help to others. Many times people will be able to handle their task on their own but there are times when it is bigger than a one person job. When a person provides help it should be accepted and completed graciously without any attempts to steal the glory. At the same time, the person offering help should also be willing to step up if their work caused a problem or did not achieved the intended result.

4. Offer praise for good performance to those who deserve it. It isn’t enough that the top performer hears it, the person’s boss needs to hear it too. In a world of complainers, the impact of praise for others in an organization is very positive and it makes both parties sought after for future team projects.

5. Mentor the new person. Make a sincere effort to show them how things are done, who their new co-workers are where the boundaries are with the boss. When this process is done properly the mentor gains an ally for life because they will always remember how they were treated.

6. Never laugh at another’s misfortune or wrong answer. Instead, offer help, guidance or direction depending on the situation. At the same time, never talk negatively about anyone’s personal or professional business performance behind their back. When a person does this, others quickly realize that they could be the next topic of discussion and trust is then lost.

7. Offer to take the hard job from time to time. This shows a willingness to do whatever it takes to be successful and to make the organization successful.

8. Set the example! This applies to every part of performance from the time a person first arrives to the moment they leave the property. If a manager walks past a piece of trash of the floor or a safety hazard without taking action, a new standard is set and it isn’t a good one!

Overall, being a team player means helping the organization and the team. Sometimes the team is not well defined and that means some informal adjustments are needed but in following the above guidelines a person will be more successful. C