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Want To Be A Better Team Player? Take These 15 Steps

The ability to work well with others and collaborate on projects is invaluable. Many employers actively search for this quality in candidates, hoping to create a staff full of “team players.”

Fortunately, even those who lack this skill can work on and develop it. We asked a panel of Forbes Coaches Council members how employees can work toward becoming better co-workers and team players for their current and future careers. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Build Trust

To be successful, team members must learn to build trust. Here are three steps team members can take to build trust: First, clearly articulate the team’s purpose and how it relates to the company’s. Next, deliver on your promises and be accountable. Third, listen to co-workers with empathy and compassion. The most valuable team members are those who are most trusted. Trusted teams outperform. - Natalie Doyle Oldfield

2. Know What A 'Team Player' Is And Isn't

Being a team player doesn’t mean avoiding disagreements or holding back from challenging ideas the team seems to be converging on when you think those are wrong for your company. It also doesn’t mean avoiding setting boundaries on your time. You shouldn’t fall behind on your own commitments or making progress on key strategic priorities because you didn’t want to disappoint others. - Orly Maravankin Ph.D., PCC, Edge Consulting, Inc

3. Risk Failure

Teams flourish when they support each other in risking, failing and learning. Risking builds agility and stretches your team's potential. With risk comes failure. Every failure needs a team member who can step away from disappointment and see the loss as a new opportunity. Be the team member who uses failure as a motivator for seeing things from a new perspective and guide your team forward. - Lynda Reid, EdD, PCC, Kusala LLC

4. Say Yes When Asked To Help

Becoming a better co-worker and team player means saying “yes” when asked to perform tasks for a co-worker, team or supervisor. This is a period when you need to demonstrate you can be counted on and have the desire and commitment to succeed individually and for the company. Having a "whatever it takes" mindset creates partnerships that advocate for your success. - Lisa Marie Platske, Upside Thinking, Inc.

5. Understand Your Team's Purpose

Understand the team's purpose and its deliverables. Understand everyone's role on the team, especially yours. Make a concerted effort to understand the team members’ work and communication styles. Find ways to be a leader even if you don't have the official title. - Diane Bogino, Performance Strategies

6. Practice Active Listening

Too often, we hear what our co-workers are saying but we don't truly listen to them. An easy and effective way to become a better co-worker is by active listening. When active listening, you listen and respond to your co-workers in a meaningful way. This builds better bonds, improves communication and leads to overall better relationships in the workplace. - Ashlee Anderson, Work From Home Happiness

7. Live By A Win-Win Philosophy

Team players that are highly sought after are team players that understand it’s not about their personal success but the success of the “whole.” Employees can become better co-workers by implanting the philosophy that if the whole company wins then everyone in the company wins. This is truly a win-win philosophy. This philosophy can help employees in any career and in any company. Win-win is key. - Adriana Rosales, Adriana & Company™ LLC

8. Make Work Fun For Your Colleagues

The best colleague is the one who makes work fun. Bring a work-appropriate joke, story, meme, comic, impersonation and impression into meetings, emails or interactions. Don't be the class clown though—be the funny one who follows through. - Brian M Harman, Business Management Hallmark

9. Give Credit To Others

Teams that succeed share in each other's successes. So often, we are so focused on our wins and losses that we miss the great things those around us are doing well. When you genuinely share appreciation, gratitude and celebration with your team members, they will want to see you succeed because you have seen them succeed! This creates an environment where people are looking for everyone to succeed! - Cody Dakota Wooten, The Leadership Guide

10. Develop Other-Awareness

Grow your ability to see the situation through another person's eyes. This kind of insight, or "other-awareness," helps teams navigate differences of opinions and facilitates healthy conflict. When people feel seen and heard, they are more at ease when decisions do not go the way they hoped. Grow your other-awareness: It builds trust, maximizes candor and erases friction. - Jennifer Owen-O'Quill, Voltage Leadership Consulting

11. Have A Dual Focus On Individual And Team Needs

Be curious about both what each team member needs individually, as well as what the team needs as a whole. Adopt a dual focus by deepening your one-on-one relationship with each team member and assisting them with their personal goals and delivering value to the needs and goals of the team as a whole. By doing both simultaneously, you will become branded as an invaluable team player! - Karan Rhodes, Shockingly Different Leadership

12. Develop Curiosity

Curiosity is a great mindset. It stops you from blaming others and breaks walls in silo cultures. How to develop it? Ask more questions. Not only to others, but also to yourself. Ones that will challenge your point of view. What else is true here? What are people thinking, but afraid to express? What are my blind spots? Why make time? What am I not seeing? How am I a part of this problem? - Inga Bielińska, Inga Arianna Bielinska Coaching Consulting Mentoring

13. Flex Your Communication Muscles

Recognize that colleagues have different communication styles than yours and temporarily adjust yours during important interactions. Start by observing them. Do they prefer in-person or email communication? Do they share detailed steps or the big picture? Are you hearing data and logic or a focus on relationships and people? Flexing to others helps you collaborate and be a better team player. - Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

14. Work On Your Soft Skills

Imagine you’re part of a group pulling a rope. This takes collaboration, support, communication and doing your share. Working toward becoming a better co-worker and team player consists of understanding your colleagues and practicing strong collaboration and communication skills. Work on developing your soft skills, which leads to great collaboration and you being a "team player." - Elizabeth Ruiz, EAR Enterprises

15. Exhibit An Unwavering Commitment To The Team

What makes teams different from groups is the commitment of its members. Although there are many ways you can become a team player, such as being reliable and responsible, suspend your judgment, be a good listener and be curious. I believe what makes a better co-worker and a great team player is the unwavering "commitment" to the team. Be committed to the team's goals and objectives. - Abraham Khoureis, Dr. Abraham Khoureis

Source: This article was initially published on November 27, 2019, on Forbes here.


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