As we continue to navigate the post-pandemic workforce, teamwork has never been more important. Remote work and virtual teams mean it’s easier than ever to work with colleagues across different regions, but it’s also created communication challenges and distractions that can hamper team effectiveness.
But what does it mean to be a great team player in the modern workplace? And how can you cultivate those qualities in yourself or your team?
At Straightline Consulting, we believe that the key to talent optimization is developing and leveraging your team’s collective strengths. That starts with understanding what it means to be a great team player. In this article, we’ll explore five qualities that make an ideal team player in today's workforce.
Collaboration is all about compromise and flexibility. When presented with difficult timetables or deliverables, try to meet your peers halfway. Start a dialogue about what’s reasonable and what’s not, and do your best to accommodate their needs. This also applies to the way we work together. Remote work means your team is not working in the same office space or time zone, and that can create different communication styles and preferences. Be willing to adapt and embrace different ways of working to achieve shared goals.
Flexibility doesn’t mean bending over backwards, however. In a team environment, it’s important that everyone does their fair share and strives for quality work. Don’t be afraid to push back where you see missed responsibilities or poor accountability. But always come from a place of good intent and assume the same of your teammates.
Collaboration often evokes feelings of sociability and shared ideas. While that’s certainly accurate, it’s equally important to take time to listen and reflect. Make sure you’re putting as much energy into other people’s ideas as you do your own. If you catch yourself talking for the majority of a team meeting, cede the floor to those who haven’t spoken. Invite those who might normally feel intimidated to share their thoughts.
When listening to your peers, let them see you’re engaged. Make eye contact, and keep the body language positive (e.g., smiling, nodding). By being an active listener, you show others you value their input. Not only does this build trust; it also encourages innovation and creativity.
Collaborating also means being able to think critically and solve issues when they arise. While problem-solving often pertains to projects or tasks, it also applies to people. A great team player doubles as a great mediator in times of conflict. When team members aren’t seeing eye to eye on a certain project, put your active listening to good use. Consider the different sides of the argument and try to be impartial and respectful of all points of view.
Remind your peers that you’re all working toward the same goals. By establishing good intent from all parties, you can ensure conflict that’s constructive, rather than detrimental. And that’ll help the team work toward a healthier resolution.
To be a strong team facilitator, you also need top-notch communication skills. And that starts with a thorough understanding of your teammates’ natural behavioral tendencies.
Say you’re highly extroverted and informal. If your peers carry themselves similarly, the best way to communicate may be with a group meeting or impromptu Slack thread. But if people are more reserved or rather formal, you may get better results with 1-on-1 conversations or emails.
In short, share information in a way that fits your teammates’ needs. And strive to do so while being honest and transparent.
While not a technical skill, positivity can be instrumental when looking to become a better team player. Think of it as the hidden x-factor you can leverage anytime, anywhere.
Bring energy and enthusiasm to every team meeting. Offer help to your colleagues where you see an opportunity. Find new ways to collaborate with and learn from one another. Above all, celebrate your team’s successes—and don't be shy about giving credit where it's due.
By exuding positivity, you can inspire others to do the same. And that'll create a virtuous cycle that can transform the dynamics of your team. Of course, you don't need to be fake or overly effusive. But a good attitude can go a long way toward fostering trust, respect, and a sense of belonging.
Being a great team player is a skill that takes practice, patience, and a willingness to learn. But by focusing on the traits we've outlined above—flexibility, active listening, problem-solving, effective communication, and a positive attitude—you can make a positive impact on your team, and ultimately, on your organization.
So the next time you're collaborating with others, remember to ask yourself: How can I be more supportive? What can I do to help the team succeed? By doing so, you'll be well on your way to becoming a top-notch team player. And who knows—your newfound skills might even land you that next promotion.
If you need help improving collaboration and talent optimization within your organization, contact Straightline Consulting for Talent Optimization help. Straightline Consulting Group serves clients nationwide and we are certified Talent Optimization Consultants, with years of practical "real-life" experience.