Whether we like it or not, team work is a necessary part of most careers. From meetings to mentoring, task forces to cross-functional projects, it can feel like every day involves multiple touch points with others.
Making these interactions positive, professional, and (dare I say?) FUN can have a big impact on your job satisfaction and the group’s overall effectiveness. What then, are the keys to effective collaboration? How can you be the type of team player everyone loves to work with?
While I don’t consider myself an expert, collaboration and teaming is probably the dimension of corporate life in which I thrived the most. I had amazing colleagues and always wanted to bring my A-game when it came to working together. Here are the strategies I used time and time again to show up as well as possible and contribute to the group. They’re also the things that I appreciated most when working with others.
But first, what is your work personality? Take this quiz to find out!
Focus on the Success of the Team
First and foremost, being a great team player involves a consistent focus on the success of the group.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid circumstances where individual priorities conflict with those of the team. Maybe a key stakeholder is off sick and the rest of the team has to pull together to cover their share of the work, despite being busy. Or maybe one of your deliverables involves working with a business partner you don’t love, but have to meet with anyways to get input.
Being a great team player involves recognizing that sometimes we have to put the team’s needs ahead of our own preferences. And then acting on it with professionalism and poise.
Be Clear on Objectives
Whether or not you’re leading the team or chairing a meeting, make sure you’re clear on what the objectives are, both for the team as a whole as well as any short-term deliverables. The key is to know exactly what you need to deliver and when. This will make you more reliable and will ensure you’re meeting any obligations.
Leading the team? Make sure you clearly outline objectives and get feedback and input from the team early on. Objectives should reflect the organization and team’s broader mission, and be shared in a way to gain buy in and alignment from key stakeholders.
Once you have your marching orders, it’s time to act! Be a reliable team member by doing what you say you’ll do, and finishing things on time. Don’t understand something or have a question? It’s always better to ask (and risk looking foolish!) than missing deliverables and letting other people down. Believe it or not, people will admire you taking the time to ask and get clear on what’s required.
Actually Get to Know People
Behind every business title is a real person. And getting to know them can work wonders for your business relationships and ultimate happiness at work. Whether it be asking them about their weekend, chatting about your career paths, learning more about their role and priorities, show a genuine interest. You can also go for coffee with anyone you’ll be working with closely to lean in further and break down any barriers. Connection + caffeine can be a wonderful combination!
My video about how to make friends at work shares some more strategies about this topic.
Be a Good Listener…
One of the greatest ways to support the team is to be a strong listener. Listen to the key objectives, each participant’s thoughts, and what isn’t being said.
…and Then Ask Questions
As I talk about in my post about why it pays to be a curious person, you (and the group!) have so much to gain from smart questions. This can be anything from surveying the group for feedback to asking for something to be explained. You should also feel empowered to politely challenge things where appropriate. Ultimately, it will lead the team to a better outcome.
Show Genuine Appreciation
A great collaborator expresses appreciation and thanks to their key stakeholders and business partners. This not only shows respect for their contributions, but also reinforces how important they are to the bigger picture.
Looking for inspiration? My post 3 Meaningful Ways to Express Thanks has you covered!
Lastly, be generous with your team members. This is everything from taking the time to explain things, helping people with individual questions, and offering to share resources and tools that may help them.
While not every team is created equal and some groups have better relationships than others, keeping these tactics in mind can make a big difference in how well you collaborate.
Did I miss any tips? Leave a comment and let me know how you work well in teams!
And don’t forget to take the quiz to uncover your work personality and get customized tips!