Whether you were a fan of group projects in grade school or not, they taught an invaluable lesson: sometimes in life, you just have to be a team player. That’s nothing more important than in the world of business, where no woman or man is an island, and no company can sustain itself without the help of several moving parts.
However cliché, sports can always serve as the perfect metaphor: a quarterback can be as talented as Aaron Rogers, but if he doesn’t have a good line of blockers, he’s going to get sacked every time. And if one blocker’s weak, it can crumble the whole offensive line leaving big holes for the defence.
So when you’re crafting your team, you need to make sure that you have other like-minded individuals on your side who are willing to press into the team when it counts. You need folks who have the true marks of a teammate, and those that you can trust to stick by your side.
With that in mind, there are a few essential teamwork skills that a good team player has.
Respect goes beyond a healthy knowledge of the food change. A good team player respects coworkers, in the same way they respect superiors. It’s about acknowledging that everyone at the table is a contributor and someone who can be a positive change agent—not just pawns in a personal race up the ladder.
If someone doesn’t know how to value their coworkers, then they clearly don’t have the whole team’s best interests in mind. A true mark of experience is someone who never underestimates another person’s value. When someone has that, they’ll be an invaluable asset themselves.
2. Good Ears
Listening. We could all use a little help with this one. Often, in team brainstorming sessions, it’s a lot of “waiting for your turn.” The result is a large group of people who are all only concerned with voicing their own thoughts and opinions, and there are several negative consequences.
For starters, the conversation winds up in a feedback loop. Because everyone is busy formulating their own thoughts instead of listening, you never actually hear what other people are saying, and undoubtedly, the same topics of discussion get repeated over and over. A lack of listening leads to half-baked ideas and unnecessarily long meeting times.
To loosely quote C.S. Lewis, humility is knowing that you’re a good painter, and also knowing that you weren’t the one who painted the Sistine Chapel. Much like respecting your coworkers signifies you understand that everyone has good ideas, humility involves knowing that you aren’t always going to be the one with the best ideas.
If a coworker lacks humility, it’s a sign that they’re not aware not only of their teammates potential, but really of their own. What’s borne out of humility isn’t just patience, but also strength in ideation and attitude.
4. A Journalistic Mind
When you watch an interview on TV, the most dissatisfying ones are when the interviewer throws nothing but “softball” questions at the subject. You know that that journalist had a responsibility to do research, dig into the details, and ask hard questions that force the subject to confront reality.
In team settings at work, we’re all the journalists. Sometimes we’re not productive because we don’t ask the hard questions. When you learn how to ask the right questions, both thorough and hard, you get to the bottom of the issue, sliding right through that pesky layer of bureaucracy that so often holds us back from the best solutions.
5. Eagerness to Share
Eagerness to share actually takes on two different—and equally helpful—meanings: for one, we should be eager to voice our thoughts and opinions. The most painful meetings to be a part of are the ones in which no one speaks up. So on the one hand, you want people on your team who aren’t afraid to say what they’re thinking, even when it’s not the “best” idea out there.
Secondly, eagerness to share means being willing to split the winnings with everyone. We recognise that great leaders take the brunt of the fall, but as teammates we need to do the same in victories. If you truly value your team: a win for one is a win for all.
You’re going to get to a point where a lot of ideas sound really good, and there won’t be a clear-cut path to the right answer. That’s when it pays to have someone one your team who can really sell their idea—or the idea that they most align with.
If you as a team aren’t able to unite behind and idea in the planning room, then you’re certainly not going to be united behind it when it’s out in the market. You need to have people on your team who can be just as persuasive in brainstorming as they are on cold calls.
We’re all going to make mistakes along the way. The true colours of a teammate show when it comes to owning up to problems and failures. Failure in and of itself really isn’t the problem, it’s about being willing to recognise that failure in yourself and own it.
If someone’s going to be entrusted to your team, to accomplish your mutual goals, you need to make sure that they’re willing to own their share of it when times are good as well as when they’re bad.
Finally, and this may seem silly, but if a teammate is no good at being a team player, then they shouldn’t be on the team. Being a part of a team isn’t about always getting your way, or having a room full of people who support your choices 100% of the time. It’s about setting goals together and accomplishing them together—whether or not you’re fully on board from the start.
It’s about being a support system first. If you can do that well, success will naturally follow.8 Teamwork Skills You Should Be On The Lookout For When Hiring Nick Lucs