Be a Winning Team Member
1/9/2013 1:54:57 PM

Most people have probably been asked to join a project team at some point in time – whether it was back in school or on the job. Working with a group of peers can be fun, as teams become infused with camaraderie and a shared sense of mission. But being a group participant can also be challenging, as individual strengths and weaknesses, personalities, work styles and goals come into conflict.

Chauntelle LeJeune, MA, LMFT, LPC, therapist with Solutions Conseling & EAP says teams in the workplace are usually created to achieve a shared company goal or solve a specific problem. "By taking advantage of a group's collective knowledge, energy and creativity, the team can accomplish much more in less time than a sincle person working alone. That's what the chiche ‘There's no I in team' is referring to. Once you become part of a team, you have to shift your thinking from being self-focused to concentrating on what is best for the group.”

Sports teams are perfect examples of how many players working together can achieve much more than one individual. Not everybody has the passing skill to be a quarterback, for example, but without the offensive line protecting him by blocking the defensive team, the quarterback would never have the time and space to throw an accurate pass. The players count on each other to use their individual skills, and then work together to give the team a better chance to win.

LeJeune says this same principle applies to teams in the workplace. "You have to be able to contribute your individual skills, recognize the skills of others and put the team goals ahead of your own personal agenda. This is an essential skill in the business world. Demonstrating that you have the ability to work well with others can have a major impact on your career.”

She offers the following strategies for developing your "team player” skills:

Know your strengths. Every team member has something valuable to contribute and it's important that you find a role within your team that allows you to do what you do well.

Check your ego at the door. No one wants to be on a team with someone who considers himself the smartest person in the room. Don't join a group boasting about your past successes or unmatched skill in a specific area. Be humble, contribute when appropriate and let your teammates discover your strengths on their own.

Be flexible. You'll also have to set aside – at least temporarily – your preferred work habits and adopt the work practices of the team. Learn to apopreciate other's work styles and how they may compliment your own.

Adapt to change. Working with a group of people means that not everything will proceed smoothly. Setbacks will occur, goals will be altered, and the team may have to change directions. Don't let these obstacles discourage you. Adapt quickly, make needed adjustments and get back on track.

Meet deadlines. When you are responsile for one part of a larger project, as is often the case when you're on a work team, your delay means a delay for the entire team. Don't be that person who holds up progress for everyone.

Listen. In a team environment, there are always going to be people who compete to be heard. Those who listen well are rarer and potentially much more valuable. The best team members don't always need to be heard; they're comfortable participating through listening. As a result, they're usually the ones who are the most informed about the details of the group project.

Communicate and contribute. Be involved and active within the group. Share information and resources. Come to meetings prepared and ready to lend your skills and experience whenever possible.

Be able to accept constructive criticism.Accept critiques and contradictory input with an open mind and be willing to explore alternative solutions instead of being defensive. View this as an opportunity to learn and to improve the end result. When offering critique to others, do so in positive and respectful manner.

Be positive. Don't complain, delay or avoid the tough assignments. A positive attitude will help you and other team members stay focused and productive, and will establish your reputation for being an enjoyable person to work with.

"Teams are usually created to solve difficult problems, and being a good team player is not always easy, but it can be your chance to shine,” says LeJeune. "Look at teamwork as not only a challenge, but a great opportunity for your career.”

Solutions offers a wide variety of workshops dealing with workplace issues. For more information, call (337) 310-2822 or visit www.solutions-eap.org.

Posted by: Kristy Armand | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Career

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