Teamwork makes the dream work. Be a team player. Work together for the greater good. These are all common phrases in the workplace. As cliché as they sound, however, they do serve a purpose. Regardless what you do for a living, you have one common goal at work. That goal is to provide a product or a service to others, and it’s easier to do what when your team works together. Imagine a football team in which some of the players don’t know how to work on a team. They run the opposite direction of the end zone with the ball. They try to play the game on their own without utilizing the skills and talents of their teammates. What happens? The entire team loses.
When you are a team player at work, you ensure success for everyone. When you work together, everyone has a part, a role, and a position. You learn them; you exercise your strengths, and you put your skills and talents to use in conjunction with the skills and talents of everyone else on the team. Now, you have a team that works together, succeeds, and wins. Being a team player is about using your assets in the correct places and making work a much more enjoyable place to be. No one wants to get up each day and go to work in an environment in which they don’t enjoy themselves, have fun, or have any motivation. Being a team player allows you to enjoy what you do.
What Is a Team Player?
A team player is not someone who agrees with everyone else all the time. A team player is not someone who merely does what they are told without asking questions. A team player is someone who works well as a member of a team because they ask questions, provide input, understand constructive criticism, and they know how to effectively communicate.
Being a team player is often misunderstood as being a doormat, but this is not the case. A team might choose a leader to guide them, but they don’t do exactly what that leader says or allow that person to dictate everything. Instead, they know how to provide their own ideas and thoughts, how to respectfully disagree or provide additional input that might enhance a plan. A team player is someone who understands that everyone on the team has a role, ideas, and thoughts, and they practice respect for one another.
Why Is It Important to Be a Team Player at Work?
Why do you need to be a team player at work? The answer is simple. Working together fosters a more creative, successful environment. There are more reasons than you can count to work well with your coworkers, but highlighting the most beneficial reasons should be enough to convince you to get on the same page as those you work with.
Teamwork Fosters A Healthy Work Environment
When you rise each morning, are you excited about going to work because you enjoy it? Or, do you hate what you do because the people you work with drain you? When you don’t work as a team, you create a hostile and toxic work environment. When you do work together as a team, you are more likely to enjoy what you do. When people like their team, they’re more productive. They’re less combative. It only takes one person to refuse to work together to have an entire team off-balance.
Teamwork Fosters Leadership Skills
While it’s true that every team has a team leader, you get to learn important leadership skills when you work as a team player. You might have a point person who orchestrates the team as a whole, but you each get to perform your own tasks and lead your own sub-teams. You learn invaluable lessons about how to work with people and how to lead them. You learn that an effective and successful leader is one who works with their team by listening and learning rather than dictating and ignoring.
Every Team Player Has a Role
Your team cannot win if you do not do your part on the team. Using the same football analogy as previously mentioned, everyone on the field has a job. Your quarterback has to know who is open, who can do the job correctly, and who is available to help the team win. He has to make quick judgments and know what’s going on at all times with every team member. The receivers go where they need to go to catch the ball.
The kicker needs to get the ball between the uprights to earn those extra points or field goals. The offense knows that they have the ball, and they have to work together to get it to the end zone for a touchdown. The defense doesn’t have the ball, but they know they have to prevent the other team from getting the ball to their own end zone, and they look for every opportunity to gain possession themselves.
Every person on a team has an important role. If one person fails to do their job correctly, the entire team can fall apart. It’s important you work together as a team player so that your entire team can succeed. When you refuse to be a team player, you’re refusing to assist in a win. You’re holding them back, causing undue stress, and you’re making the entire game difficult.
Top 5 Ways to Show You're a Team Player at Work
One of your most valuable assets as a successful person is to show you are a team player who knows how to work well with others. Here’s how you do that.
Be an Active Listener
You cannot be a team player if you refuse to listen to your teammates. Sure, they might not have an idea that’s as good as yours, but your job on the team is to listen to their ideas. A successful team consists of people who listen to hear, rather than listen to reply. If you’re listening, you’re showing you care about their ideas and value their position on the team.
Offer Only Constructive Criticism
Everyone falls short every once in a while, including you. Your ideas might seem great in your mind, and then they look like a mess on paper. When someone on your team has an idea that just doesn’t work, start off by offering them a compliment. For example, “Steve, I really like your idea. It’s clear you put a lot of thought into this concept, and I see how it will be a huge success. May I offer just one suggestion? Rather than doing X in conjunction with Y, how about doing Z with Y instead? I think it will work because of XYZ.” When you offer a compliment with a critique, it’s easier for others to see that you respect them.
Learn to Accept Constructive Criticism
If you want to show you are a team player, you must be prepared to accept the constructive criticism of others. You’re not perfect, and sometimes people just have better ideas than you do. Your job is to take what they say and run with it rather than spending time being hurt about it. Everyone has their own perspective, and it’s not always up to you to have the best ideas. Other teammates will have better ideas than yours sometimes.
Learn to Communicate
A great team player communicates easily and readily. If you have an issue with someone or their ideas, you take that issue directly to them without going to everyone else about it. You do not speak ill of anyone on your team to anyone else. You do not talk behind anyone’s back. You do not let things go and let your resentment fester. You nip issues in the bud with respect in a timely fashion.
You Know When to Back Down
Sometimes being part of a team means sitting back and letting someone else take the driver’s seat. Perhaps you are passionate about a project, but you can see that someone else on your team is just so much more passionate about it. As part of the team, it’s your job to know when to let someone else take the lead on a project. You know when your team members are invested in something, and you know when someone might need a little help picking up the slack. Your goal is to recognize that and offer the right solution.
If you’re looking for a way to prove you can work as a team at work, you can do it by utilizing these tips. You can also work on proving yourself by implementing these tips each time you work together. Your team is comprised of people with specific strengths. Learning to recognize those, to delegate, and to show enthusiasm when sharing ideas are all excellent ways to show you work great on a team, by yourself, and with anyone else. Respect is always the best way to prove you work well on a team, even when you disagree with someone else on your team.