Great teams make great organisations, and such teams are made of great team members. When it comes to working with a team, it is not so much how good you are, as how good you are to work with. Here are 6 tips that will have a positive effect on your colleagues’ perception and reception of you.
1. Embrace humility: Many years ago, my mentor said to me, “As you grow, embrace humility: it is the hallmark of great leaders.” Those are words I took to heart. You may very well be the best thing since sliced bread, but it won’t do you much good to be arrogant. Furthermore, when you are modest, people add on an average of 20% to 30% to their estimate of your competence. Conversely, when you blow your trumpet or brag, the same percentage gets chopped off their estimate of your competence.
2. Be a good listener: Listening is a skill that can be learnt. It is not just about hearing what your colleagues are saying, but assuring them that they are being heard. Pay attention and let your body language reflect this; maintain eye contact, nod, and smile.
3. Don’t display your weaknesses: We all have weaknesses, but you want to put your best foot forward at work. Getting along with your team members may create the feeling that you’re in a friendship, but always remember that displaying a lack of willpower reduces trust levels. Keep your self-control issues at home and be professional.
4. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry”: When you mess up, apologise quickly. Try not to get defensive and draw out the matter. Accept responsibility, apologise and let the team move on. “I’m sorry” is also powerful not only when you’re wrong, but when something happens to a colleague that you didn’t cause. Empathising with them by simply saying “I’m sorry about what’s going on…” inspires trust and increases a sense of camaraderie.
5. Be generous with compliments: Nothing boosts team spirit like words of affirmation, acknowledgement and appreciation. Don’t be stingy with compliments. If you must offer constructive criticism, sandwich it between slices of praise. Commend, criticize, and then close with commendation.
6. Highlight your potential: Ensure that you’re not living on past glory. Having a proven record is good, but employers place more value on potential. What are you bringing to the table for the future? Yes you did great in the past, but how are you going to move the organization forward now? Practice your pitch for the future and always be prepared to present your plan. Don’t be the weakest link or sabotage the efforts of your team mates.
When you write “team player” in your CV, mean it!