Team players: job seekers claim to be one; employers say they want them. But what qualities constitute a team player? At first blush, “someone who works well with others” seems to be an adequate definition. That’s certainly part of it, but there is a little more to being a team player than that. Consider these five attributes.
Ability To Contribute
A team player doesn’t have to know everything, but they should have an area of specialty in which they are knowledgeable. They should be the go-to person on the team for that area, and the rest of the team can rely on. Impart your knowledge to your colleagues if you can help solve a problem and work towards being seen as knowledgeable and of value to your company.
Willingness To Learn
Beyond your own niche, you should be willing to broaden this knowledge base. You can’t contribute to the team if your skills are stagnant. Do whatever it takes to keep up with the latest in your job and industry. Attend conferences or webinars, read books, and subscribe to newsletters or periodicals.
You can be the most knowledgeable and senior person on the team, but if you can’t be counted on, it’s meaningless. Earn a reputation for showing up on time, doing your fair share of work, and always deliver on your promises. It’s easier to build a coalition of support by demonstrating that you have earned it. Assume leadership positions as appropriate opportunities arise.
Pulling everyone together is a vital part of being a team player. That begins with communicating in a way that is empathetic and inspiring. It’s important you express your thoughts clearly, directly, honestly, and respectfully. As a team player you’ll often work on projects together. Effective communication is a critical part of project success. Take the time to hone your verbal and written communication skills.
While you have your place within your team – and people count on you to cover your duties, you should be willing to do what it takes to make the team successful. That can mean learning new technologies or picking up the slack for a teammate who can’t. A team player never says, “That’s not in my job description.” The success of the team should be paramount, even if it takes you outside your comfort zone.
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