What makes a good team player?
Many organizations require being a “good team player” in their performance review process. Typically, they suggest some behavioral attributes, and that’s a good place to begin to answer the question.
However, I am convinced that being a good team player is about paying attention to the small stuff:
Be Assertive. Being a good team player doesn’t mean you’re a wimp. There are times to “go with the flow” and there are times when you need to speak up. A team is brought together because of the collective power of diverse individuals. By withholding important information, you are depriving the team of your valuable perspective.
Offer Help. Even though it may not be in your job description, offer help to others without being prompted. They may not take you up on the offer, but they will remember that you offered.
Be Attentive. Peek up out of your Dilbert-pod and see what’s going on with your fellow teammates. Once you understand the context in which people exist, you can better understand where they are coming from and why they do what they do.
Be Gracious. People are people. They will make mistakes periodically. They will let you down. Graciously accept the small snafus in teamwork with an effort to prevent the snafu from happening again.
Do Your Best. On the flip side, you will also make a mistake, miss a deadline, or make a mess. Rather than cover it up, let the team know as soon as possible what happened and what you will do to “make it right.” Team members are incredibly forgiving if they know you are trying your hardest.
Play Nice. Be considerate of others. Truly listen to what others are saying. You don’t always have to be first or get your way. You may be technically correct, but there may be other equally correct solutions to the problem. Be open to other possibilities.
Say Thank You. When a team member does something for you, for the team, or just a good thing in general, acknowledge the contribution.
Have Fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously and keep things in perspective. Nobody likes to be around a chronic complainer; they prefer to be around upbeat people who enjoy life, even during dreary moments.
Many of these small things collectively add up to being a good team player. The good news is that each of these traits can be learned if you consciously pay attention to how you are “playing” on your team.
Question: Do you consider yourself to be a good team player?