Are You A Team Player???
The question, “Are you a team player?” has certainly gained in importance over the past few years as we rely more and more on networking from remote locations in the world of work. What used to hold us in awe—someone working with a colleague who lived thousands of miles away in another country—is now seen as the routine. Employers expect their employees to be able to work together, even though the workers involved in a project may be many miles apart.
What does it take to be a contributing, responsible team member today?
Jeff Butterfield offers some insight and tips in his textbook entitled Teamwork and Team Building: Soft Skills for a Digital Workplace (Course Technology, Cengage Learning, 2011):
1. Understand the role of teams in the world of business—recognize that the formation of teams may be necessary because:
- Teams can serve to represent and implement the goals of a company.
- The project may be too large for a single individual.
- Teams can create a broad range of solutions.
- Teams can serve as motivational tools.
- Teams can serve to build a sense of commitment to a project—stakeholders.
- Recognize the various types of teams—basic workgroups, committees, project teams, task force teams, self-managed teams, and special-purpose teams.
2. Teams may have a shared sense of their purpose, while groups may be comprised of people who work on similar tasks or who follow the same procedures—there is a big difference.
3. Be aware of the fact that team members should need to develop a sense of ownership or vested interest, share the same objectives, have a sense of contributing to the overall purpose, develop a sense of trust among members, and feel as though the team can make meaningful decisions. Get to know your other team members.
4. Have a healthy respect for varying opinions—avoid falling into the trap of looking only the familiar and allow new ideas to be explored. However, be sure your “netiquette” (your cyber manners) is incorporated—egos and unhealthy conflict can send a team into a downward, nonproductive spiral very quickly.
5. Respect deadlines—team members need to be committed to getting goals accomplished by the projected deadline dates; however, if there are extenuating circumstances, adjust the schedule accordingly, but be realistic and stay committed.
6. Have a team leader (or coordinator) who is responsible for coordinating and contacting members to ensure the goals of the team are being met.
7. Stay on target while continually examining the team’s purpose, expectations, and any roadblocks/barriers.
8. Make sure the ability to make decisions, access to resources, and the ability to take meaningful actions are in place—teams need to have a sense of empowerment.
9. Make sure the efforts of the team are recognized and rewarded. We all want to feel appreciated.
10. Be aware of differences (and perhaps difficulties) between communication and coordination and plan accordingly.
11. Take advantage of and use appropriate technologies. Today we have mobile devices that include laptops, tablets, social networking, Smartphones along with teleconferencing. If used effectively, these tools that can be of immense help in getting tasks and projects completed. You don’t have to use every “bell and whistle,” but do use technology to help overcome time wasters and redundancy.
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