Being an Effective Team Player

When most of us enter the workforce today, the first role we would be given would be that of a team player. Hence, it is important that we learn how to become an effective team player who is valued as an asset to the team.

1. Be supportive and be reliable

You can be a valuable asset to the team by simply delivering your work on time, and consistently producing high quality work. By committing yourself to completing something for the group, people would depend on you to produce good work and recognize you as an indispensable team member. In addition, it is also important to support other people on your team by offering positive feedback, and providing help if they need it. Such behaviour exemplify a sense of team loyalty and helps to build trust between group members.

One’s willingness to collaborate and help others will make a good impression on other people in general and strengthen the relationship between one and one’s team members. In relation to this, conscientiousness is a personality trait which is useful in this aspect since conscientious people are usually responsible and dependable, and will therefore be good at backing up other team members and at sensing when support is truly needed.

Avoid social loafing, which is to coast on the group’s effort, even if certain contributions cannot be directly attributed to you. As an individual, you are jointly responsible for the team’s purpose, goals and deliverables, and hence consistently making contributions to the team would make you more well regarded amongst your colleagues and upper management.

2. Be flexible

With today’s fast pace of work, things can change quickly – people have join or leave the team, goals may be redefined and budgets may be cut. Hence, it is important that you not fight change but use it a new opportunity for growth instead.

Openness to experience and agreeableness are two personality which are relevant in this aspect. Open people are usually more creative, autonomous and flexible and hence open team members communicate better with one another and are able to generate more ideas. Teams which are composed of more open people are hence creative and innovative. Agreeable people are usually more compliant and conforming to group norms and are hence generally more well liked and have higher performance in general. In addition, it may also be helpful to be high self-monitoring. Self monitoring refers to an individual’s ability to adjust his or her behaviour to external, situational factors. Individuals high in self monitoring show considerable adaptability in adjusting their behaviour to external situational factors. They are highly sensitive to external cues and can behave differently in different situations and capable of presenting striking contradictions between their public persona and their private self and can therefore adapt themselves better to different situations.

In general, one’s willingness to remain comfortable and positive in a constantly changing environment is an important skill, which the upper management is likely to take notice.

3. Be a Good Communicator

To be a good communicator, you need to be able to give constructive feedback by focusing on idea and behaviours, instead of individuals. Receiving feedback requires listening well, asking for clarification if the comment is unclear, and being open to change and other ideas.

It is also important to be involved and active within the group to contribute ideas and suggestions which can help the group to achieve its overall goals. When communicating with team members, be it to challenge their thinking or to show support, it is important to stay positive and respectful. Being consistently calm and objective will make a good impression,

Finally, in addition to those top three tips, at a firm level, the company needs to have an organizational culture as a pretext that allows the above actions to be carried out well. There would need to be a high climate of trust within the team as interpersonal trust among team members facilitates cooperation, reduces the need to monitor each others’ behaviour. Team members are more likely to take risks and expose vulnerabilities when they believe they can trust others on their team. There would also need to be a well designed performance evaluation and reward system in place. On top of evaluating and rewarding employees for individual contributions, management should also modify the traditional individual oriented evaluation and reward systems to reflect team performance.

Hence, being an effective team player is a collective effort involving the organizational culture and your colleague, all of which need to be taken into account.

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