How to Become a Team Player

First, What is a Team?

Learning how to become a team player is just one of the many important soft skills required in business today. A team is a group of individuals working together to achieve their goal.  As defined by Professor Leigh Thompson of the Kellogg School of Management, “a team is a group of people who are interdependent with respect to information, resources, and skills and who seek to combine their efforts to achieve a common goal”. Wikipedia.  A team can be as small as just two people or involve many people depending on the nature of the project. 

Types of Teams

Most administrative professionals work in some type of team environment.  These teams are assigned to work on well-defined projects such as budgets, schedules,  purchasing equipment or upgrades to the office procedures.. They may be assigned to projects by their managers, executives or executive assistants requiring help.  Two common types of workplace teams are:

Functional

  • Functional teams are formed by people from within the same work area or department.  These are usually people you see on a day to day basis.
  • They come together to meet or accomplish specific goals.
  • Each team member has specific goals and responsibilities they must meet.

Cross Functional

  • This type of team is often used for solving issues that affect the whole organization.
  • Also called task forces or committees, this type of team is made up of employees from departments across the whole organization
  • These types of teams can also be virtual teams that are made up of admins in different geographic locations who meet and work electronically through email and videoconferencing.

What is Teamwork?

Teamwork is the collaborative effort of a team to achieve a common goal or to complete a task in the most effective and efficient way. Wikipedia.  There will be many times in your career as an administrative professional that you will be required to work in collaboration with other administrative staff or employees who are assigned a task or goal for which the team must work together to arrive at a solution or recommendation.  Teamwork is an extremely important soft skill which ranks up there with communication.  In order to be an effective team player, you will need to be able to communicate well with your manager and other team members.  

How to Become a Team Player

Every team member brings different talents, skills and capabilities to the team.  Your manager will be responsible for assigning you a role that fits your skills, abilities and strengths.  It would be pointless to assign any team member a task or assignment that is completely outside of his/her skillset.  Below are some guidelines that you can follow to be an effective team player:

1. Know your Role

Be prepared to talk to your boss or team leader about what you special skills, abilities and relationships you bring to the team.  You boss or team leader may ask you what you do well or what you feel your specific strengths are.  If you are able to express what you do well or your boss is aware of your abilities, he/she will be able to determine how your talents and capabilities can be used to achieve the best outcome for the project.

2. Be Reliable and Responsible

Once you are assigned a role on a team, take full responsibility for your role and get into it by becoming fully engaged.  Be prepared to take responsibility for all the work entailed and for any problems that arise along the way.

3. Keep Team Members Informed

Using your communication skills and channels, keep your team members informed of your opinions and ideas and any changes and updates to the project.  Know what is expected of you by studying your part of the task or assignment.  Also, make sure you know what is expected of others so you are able to ask for help from other team members when necessary.

4. Understand the Project and Other Team Members Role on the Team

Find out what the project ;is trying to achieve by learning the whole process from beginning to end. Learn what special skills, abilities and relationships the other team members bring to the table.

5. Collaborate with Other Team Members

Your manager will introduce you to other team members so take the time to ask questions and to listen actively to their answers.  Active listening is a soft skill you will need to keep practicing. See 9 Tips to Improve your Active Listening Skills.

When you hear someone saying something you don’t initially agree with, try not to interrupt them or make unnecessary remarks.  Don’t be afraid to seek help from other team members when necessary as collaboration means working together to achieve the overall project goal.

6. Be Willing to Compromise

Whenever you work and collaborate with others as a team, you will inevitably need to compromise at times.  Even though you may think your idea is the best solution, compromise may mean you may need to be adaptable and flexible and possibly give up your individual idea for a group solution. Keep in mind that adaptability is an important soft skill to learn and practice.

7. Be Courteous and Respect Others

Be aware of how you treat others at all times. You’ll gain respect by giving it to others. 

8. Provide Constructive Criticism

This is important whether you are on a team or not but particularly important when you are on a team as you always want to be considered a team player.   If you are responsible for critiquing another team members work, criticize the work, not the person says Sharon Burton and Nelda Shelton in their book, Office Procedures for the 21st Century.  For example, it’s better to say “The flyer needs an additional paragraph here” rather than saying “You left out an important paragraph”.

9. Maintain a Positive Attitude

Be enthusiastic about being on the team Strive for excellence at all times. Gain tips on How to Improve your Attitude now!

10. Share the Praise and Rewards

Teamwork is not only about doing the work required as a team to get the job done but also about being rewarded for a job well done.  Be sure to share the praise, credits and other rewards with your team members.  This will not only make them feel important but will make others glad they had a chance to work on a team with you.

Learn How to Become Team Player

Teamwork and learning how to become a team player is just one of the many important soft skills required in business today.  Improve your office skills by taking the course, Soft Skills for Administrative Professionals, a soft skills training course offered on officeskills.org.

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