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How To Be A Better Team Member

Today almost every worker is part of a work team. But how can you be a better team member?

#1 Don’t Hoard Your Expertise

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The best team members operate like a cohesive squad; picking up slack where needed, and helping to push each other forward. Here’s a specific example: instead of hoarding your expertise, you can use it to make everyone’s job easier. One of my colleagues is GREAT at business automation, and he has helped staff in marketing, sales and customer service automate parts of their role and free up time for other tasks.

Contributors: Alex R. from Team Building Hero 

    #2 Upbringing and education

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    There has been research that when a student in middle school is given projects with real-world consequences, they grow up with extremely advanced commitment skills, and tend to be much more stable and reliable when it comes to projects and challenges in their careers. Being a better team member starts with someone's upbringing and education. Students must get a taste of the fact that their actions have consequences, and that for every action there is a reaction. They must learn that if they succeed, it helps a team succeed as well.

    Contributors: Leah Silberstein from Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County

    #3 Understand the why for the people you work with

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    Why are they busting their butts every day? What is it that drives them? Are they driven by a need to provide for loved ones? Is it a material goal? Are they trying to prove someone wrong? Knowing the motivations of people you work with goes a long way in building a fruitful relationship.

    Contributors: Laz Versalles from Accesa Labs 

    #4 Acknowledge Others

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    We all know that being aware of our own limitations is key, but to be a great team member also requires acknowledging and utilizing the strengths of others. Sometimes we're tempted to overlook someone else's strengths, especially when it is a trait we ourselves lack. When you struggle with something but notice a coworker is great at it, seeking out their input will ensure humbleness over ego will always win and will result in better output for the team every time. 

    Contributors: Melina Gillies from SalesUp! Business Coaching 

    #5 Be Adaptable

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    Aside from being a necessary trait in any organization, adaptability is critical to innovation. Besides, no one likes a teammate who is inflexible. Adaptability doesn't come easily to a lot of people, however, so the best thing you can do to get better is to practice. Ask questions that take you out of your comfort zone and force you to consider alternate viewpoints. Keep your eye on the big picture, and if you have trouble seeing the big picture, ask someone to provide you with their view of it. Finally, practice being more flexible in all aspects of your life when things don't go as planned. Soon you'll find you can roll with the punches easier, and be able to appreciate new viewpoints that can open doors you never thought existed. 

    Contributors: Melina Gillies from SalesUp! Business Coaching 

    #6 Improve Communication

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    You may consider yourself a good communicator, but chances are if you tend to talk more than you listen, other's won't share that assessment. Being a good communicator is about knowing when to stay silent, when to speak up and how to get your point across in a way that is clear while respecting the professional and cultural norms of your organization. Gain clarity in a conversation by active listening - that is - repeating back what you've heard to gain agreement or elicit a clearer expectation. Don't underestimate the importance of what your body language is saying and most importantly, don't skip the follow-up. 

    Contributors: Melina Gillies from SalesUp! Business Coaching 

    #12 Trust

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    In order to be a better team player, it is important to try and set a good example for others on the team. Setting a good example for other team members will help to raise the bar for the entire team. Make sure to use your strengths when working with a team as well. By using your own strengths to contribute to the team you can benefit everyone. Finally, in order to be a better team member trust others on the team and attempt to get them to trust you. Trust is a big key to success when working with any team. 

    Contributors: Andrew Rawson from Traliant

    #13 Have a good attitude

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    It’s simple. It’s easy. But it really goes a long way. A “can-do” attitude and positive relationship with you teammates will boost motivation, productivity, and generally make your workload feel less like work. It’s not just a benefit to those around you, it will also make you feel better and less stressed out. With a friendly professional environment, open communication is also naturally fostered. 

    Contributors: Jim Milan from Auto Accessories Garage 

    #14 Don’t let your strengths become your weakness

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    Your strengths are likely what got you hired. They’re how you shine and make things happen. Knowing your unique strengths enables you to apply yourself effectively in the situations where you can have the most influence and be the most helpful to your team. However, any strength, overdone or used without thought, can become a weakness. Rarely do we think about the ways that our strengths can get in the way of us being successful in a team. The reality is that every strength can have a downside. The idea is to find the goldilocks “just right” sweetspot for your expertise so that you are not limiting the engagement of the rest of the team. This gives your fellow team members the space and capacity to contribute fully.

    Contributors: Jana Sanchez  from Trebuchet Group

    #15 Double check & clarify deliverables at the end of the meeting

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    With every project in the workplace (whether it is an internal, or client-facing project) comes many meetings. Your calendar can be filled with meetings, and whether you follow an agenda in a meeting or not, conversations during a meeting can jump around. Project updates, goals and objectives, roadblocks and risks, responsibilities and timelines can be main discussion points during a meeting, and it is important that each person involved is getting the most out of the hour that is blocked out on their calendar.

    From my experience at Codal, one way to be a better team member is to always clarify what your deliverables are, and what the deadline is at the end of a meeting. At the end of your meeting, state what your deliverable is, when it is due, and your understanding of the task. This ensures that each team member is well-aware of what they have to deliver and that everyone has a clear understanding of what the next steps of the project look like.

    Contributors: Jenna Erickson from Codal

    #16 Acknowledge Your Teammates Strengths

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    To be a better team member, get the idea that each of your teammates has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses that fundamentally shape their capability to add value to the team. Don’t expect a teammate to make great contributions in areas of weakness. Additionally, recognize that each person has a life outside your team. Consequently, life events always impact (and sometimes seriously limit) a person’s ability to be at his or her best. To be a better team member, accept the fact that you and others have to step up and carry more than your fair share from time to time. If you do those two things, you’ll be a better team member.

    Contributors: Larry Sternberg from Talent Plus, Inc.

    #18 Be Solution Oriented

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    Teams are designed with the notion that it's easier to accomplish tasks together versus alone. As such, if someone comes to you with a problem try to help them find a solution. In most cases, problems will mean complaints. Rather than placate and validate them, find answers to fix it. Conversely, when you approach others with a problem, present it in a context where you are seeking their advice for ways they can offer help in the problem. As a side note, try to first think of solutions yourself before approaching others.

    Contributors: Phil Svitek from AfterBuzz TV

    #19 Value People’s Time

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    Time is something most people undervalue - for themselves and for others. And yet we all feel overwhelmed and stress because of a lack of time. In order to be a good team member we must value other's time so they do the same for us. Examples of this include clear and concise emails, requesting meetings only when needed and when there is a clear agenda, emailing/calling only during work hours unless it can't be avoided. 

    Contributors: Phil Svitek from AfterBuzz TV

    #20 Don’t Yeah, But People

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    Whether someone is scolding you or just notifying you of a mistake on your part, don't take what they say and then simply offer an excuse why it happened. Most millennials I interact with use the phrase yeah, but. The yeah seems like they are in agreeance and understanding with you, however their but reveals otherwise. The problem with phrases such as this is that the person using the phrase never takes responsibility for mistakes and therefore can never grow and learn. 

    Contributors: Phil Svitek from AfterBuzz TV

    #21 Explain Your Decisions and Opinions

    Much like during math class teacher's require students to show their work at how they derived at the solution so too must members of any team. It will either convert people to trust your idea or allow them to see your logic and if there's any blind-spots then they can now help solve them. 

    Contributors: Phil Svitek from AfterBuzz TV

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    Written by Zak Parker

    Journalist, writer, musician, professional procrastinator. I'll add more here later.