Becoming A Great Team Member
TEAMS, TEAMS, TEAMS!
They can be large, small, medium-sized, functional, cross-functional, self-managed, project, or virtual. Whatever their size, type, or function, teams play a critical role in the life and operations of all types of organizations. Love them or hate them, we are often compelled to be a part of them. They exist in every sphere of human endeavour and will continue to do so since teams work because of teamwork!
Getting teams to work as the proverbial “well-oiled machine” is really a science, within which people, you and I, play a pivotal role. A team’s performance and overall achievements are heavily dependent upon the ability of its members to maintain harmonious, productive interpersonal relationships. However well-constituted a team is in terms of its mission, organizational structure, technical skills, expertise, and tools, divisive relationships among its members will negatively affect its performance, productivity, and overall functioning. Where teams are concerned, one big, bad attitude can spoil the entire team!
Team leaders may experience greater difficulty in resolving conflicts and disagreements among team members than technical skills gaps. After all, in most cases they can upskill members through training or simply replace them with persons with the right technical competencies. Not so easy when dealing with challenging attitudes, big personalities, and less than ideal social skills!
Great teams can be built, destabilized, or destroyed by disruptive interpersonal relationships. For this reason, it is critically important for each of us to strive to become the team member who will make our team a dream team. Let us endeavour to be the “dream” member who will transform teamwork into dreamwork!
THE “I” IN TEAMING
There is a popular, true quotation that says, “there is no I in team”, suggesting that there is no room in teams for self, self-centredness, or selfish behaviour. The word and the practice of teaming, however, may differ significantly. You see, while the “I” does not show up in team, it certainly shows up in teaming – “the activity of working together as a team” [Cambridge Dictionary, Online]. Typically, it is when teaming or teamworking that the “I” rises up, especially when “I” cannot get my way or achieve my personal agenda.
You see, “I” can be my team’s most valuable player or its “most-difficult-to-deal-with” player, through my attitude, communication style, behaviour, and treatment of others. There may even come a point when my qualification, skill, and experience are overshadowed and diminished by my unpleasant expressions of who I am, especially my speech and behaviour when interacting with other team members. Let us each strive to become an ideal team member, recognizing that before we can be ideal members of a team, we must first become ideal team members!
HOW TO MAKE THE DREAM WORK
Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.
[John Maxwell, American Author]
As team members, when the less than ideal version of ourselves shows up for teamwork, the vision will quickly become a nightmare. The reality is that there is no “dream” team without “dream” team members. Becoming a “dream” team member does not happen by chance, it is a matter of investing time, energy, and sustained effort into our personal development and branding, especially our ability to build and maintain harmonious social relationships. Here are some things that we can do:
- Reimagine Yourself As The Ideal Team Member
Research the attributes of an ideal team member and start visualizing a new version of yourself as the team member with whom others would “dream” of working.
- Develop Yourself And Evolve Into An Ideal Team Member
Acquire the essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will equip you to be an ideal team member and practise until you perfect them.
3.Acquire And Develop The Best Interpersonal Skills
Develop a range of essential interpersonal skills, especially courteous language and behaviour, empathy, collaboration, negotiation, influence, open-mindedness, tolerance, and respect for diversity.
- Practise Self-Management/Self-Control
Use techniques that are compatible with who you are to manage any attitude, impulse, action, or behaviour that will cause friction or conflict in your interactions with other team members.
- Practise Emotional Self-Control
Learn to control your emotions so that they do not control you: Always practise emotional self-awareness; have “pause button” like a song, saying, breathing exercise, or prayer that you can use to maintain emotional control.
- Develop A Winning Communication Style
Develop a communication style that will reach all types of audiences, a style that incorporates correct grammar, courteous words and words that motivate, assertiveness and respect for others, empathy and interest, and engaging body language.
- Adjust Your Communication Style To Suit The Other Person
Recognize that one approach will not work for all persons and adjust your approach when dealing with different types of persons – the talkative, elderly, friendly, quiet, rude, etc.
- Learn To Filter Out The Noise
Develop the ability to separate the noise or distraction from the message or main issue, filter out the noise, and respond to the message rather than the noise.
- Practise Uncontaminated Listening
Eliminate prejudicial thoughts and opinions that can contaminate your listening: Avoid taking things personally and seeing things through the lens of your own prejudices. Ensure that your interpretation of what others say is not contaminated or skewed by your prejudices;
- Be The Voice Of Encouragement, Positivity, And Solutions
In the face of problems or difficulties, keep the team focused on its circle of influence or the things over which it has control; move team to action by asking the question “What is the plan?”