Teamwork is the driving force behind a successful business, small or large. There is no doubting this. But what many of us don’t realize at first is that a group’s success has little to do with the intelligence of one teammate, and more to do with the how well the team works together. They call this collective intelligence.
What matters the most in determining if a team is going to be successful is the dynamic of the group. If you are a team player, you exemplify traits such as self-knowledge, professionalism, respect and proactive communication. Many find themselves part of a team and are not impressed with the results, the dynamic, or the culture. It only takes a little self-reflection to realize that if you’re not contributing to a solution, you might be part of the problem. So what do you do? How do you become a larger influence on the group and how in the world do you help steer the team toward success?
Never stop learning.
One of the easiest ways to assist your coworkers is to gain more knowledge on the topic at hand. If you don’t know, you can’t help them. If you discover new tips and tricks that make the group more efficient, understand concepts faster, or help productivity flourish, the bigger asset you are to the team. They will appreciate your enthusiasm to help the group, probably more so if you have facts and outside sources versus opinions to back up the suggestions.
Listen while you work.
It isn’t abnormal to sit down at your desk at the beginning of the day and have a coworker greet you with an enthusiastic, “How are you?” and then have your response fall on deaf ears. It’s not that they don’t care, but that they didn’t intentionally try to engage. Many of us speak before we listen, or listen mainly just to hear when we can start talking again. Break that pattern. It is probably the worst habit you can have while being part of a team. Instead, take a moment to listen to your teammates, and if it is appropriate, give a respectful response that adds to the conversation, instead of detracting from it.
Professionalism. Because this is work, not a soap opera.
If there is an issue, it’s critical to only focus on that issue, and not on the individual. If you have a hard time separating the individual from the problem, take a lap, count to 10, and breathe. Disciplining a person instead of trying to fix the problem can break a team. Gossip doesn’t help either, and only creates a toxic and uncomfortable environment for the rest of the team. If you hear gossip or sense someone is blaming an individual for an issue, shut it down and remind the team of your respect for each other. For non-confrontational folks, this can be very uncomfortable, but your teammates will respect you for speaking up and keeping the group grounded.
The beauty of working on a team is that it is ever evolving and adapting to new adversity. A sound team doesn’t say “NO” when faced with an issue; instead, they ask “HOW?”