At some point in your career, it’s likely you’ve heard the term “team player” used in the office. Many employers emphasize the importance of hiring employees who work well together and put the company’s mission first.
“You cannot build a great team without great players. That is a fact. As the saying goes, ‘you can lose with good players, but you cannot win without them,’” said John C. Maxwell in The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player: Becoming the Kind of Person Every Team Wants.
But how do you actually become an effective team player and play nice with others? Here are a few tips for working well with others and creating an office dream team.
1. Discover what type of team player you are
There are several styles of working collaboratively. Each employee has his or her own way of contributing to a team. Find out which approach best suits the way you collaborate within a team environment and work on developing your strengths.
“It is now clear that a team player cannot be described with a catch phrase, a simple profile, or even a job description. My view, supported by research we conducted, was that there are four types of team players—Contributor, Collaborator, Communicator, and Challenger—each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the four team player styles helps team leaders and members better understand themselves and how they contribute to team success,” said Glenn M. Parker in Team Players and Teamwork: New Strategies for Developing Successful Collaboration.
2. Sharpen your skills
You can’t be an effective team member if your skills aren’t up to par. Don’t expect your co-workers to carry your weight. Slacking off could get you shown the door and eventually cause resentment to build among your co-workers. Keep your skills fresh so that you can fully contribute.
“Effective team work requires the synergy of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Collectively, knowledge, skills, and abilities can develop into well-defined competencies. A competency is a simultaneous existence of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for effectiveness in individual, group, team, and/or organizational performance…People are the common denominator in every group or team. An individual’s competencies are an important requirement for effectiveness in a group or team,” said Consuelo M. Ramirez in Teams: A Competency-Based Approach.
3. Maintain a positive outlook
Don’t be the co-worker who is always complaining. If you don’t like the way things are going at work you have the option to leave. Don’t bring everyone else around you down just because you’re unhappy. Either make a change or quit, and step aside for the person who would gladly trade places with you. The energy you spend being a sourpuss could be spent actually getting results. Attitude is everything.
“Culture consists of the shared purpose, attitudes, values, goals, practices, behaviors, and habits that define a team or organization…To be successful, you need everyone in your organization thinking, believing, talking, and behaving in sync. You need everyone to be aligned with the same beliefs, expectations, behaviors, and habits,” said Jon Gordon and Mike Smith in You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life.
4. Lend a hand
If you see a co-worker in need, offer to help out. You might need help on a big project one day, so do your best to be as helpful as you can. Avoid the temptation to always focus on what you can get out of helping someone. It’s not always about what you can get.
“Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?” said Adam M. Grant in Give and take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.