It’s not always easy to work as a member of a team. But, upping your ability to work well with others, no matter how skilled you already are at collaboration, can help you in your career.
Most people have to work closely with others throughout their careers. For many, collaboration is a nonnegotiable part of working life. Research has shown that teamwork ultimately boosts performance. However, it’s not always enjoyable. You probably like to work with some people more than others.
But, no matter who’s on your team, you can improve your own experience, as well as everyone else’s, if you bring your best teammate skills to the table. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Always do your fair share
Remember when you were in school and you were assigned a group project? Often, the work wasn’t divided evenly among the members. Instead, one or two people ended up carrying the bulk of the load. Well, the same is often true for teams of professionals. Often, some shoulder more than others. In order to be a good teammate, you have to carry your fair share of the burden.
Also, be sure to communicate honestly with your team about what you’ll be doing, and when, along the way. Your team members will appreciate that you reliably do the right thing. You’ll also be setting a good example for others to follow.
2. Be more positive
Think back on experiences you’ve had working with negative people. It isn’t easy, is it? A bad attitude and a sour mood don’t help anyone. In fact, negative emotions can be contagious in the workplace. It can bring everyone down. As much as you might feel disgruntled about spending your time and energy working with a team, you aren’t doing anyone any favors by being negative.
Instead, make a conscious effort to bring a positive attitude to team interactions. Focus on the good. What do you enjoy about this kind of work? Think about what’s going well and how that might continue or even improve. Try to be positive about the future – hope for the best. A little optimism can go a long way in the workplace. It can help you to be more productive and overcome conflicts more easily. It may even help you to stand out as leader on your team.
3. Schedule some solo work time
Collaboration can be especially challenging for some workers. Introverts, for example, may find it draining to spend a lot of time working with others. But, even if you’re a sociable and chatty extrovert who loves your team, working together can still take away from your ability to attend to your work tasks and responsibilities. That’s the trouble with meetings — they can feel like an unnecessary interruption to a busy day and never-ending to-do list.
So, whenever possible, schedule some alone time for solo work following a big team session. It might help you to stay focused, and pleasant, if you know that you have two uninterrupted hours to move your own projects forward just after the meeting.
4. Don’t always “reply all”
Technology has opened up so many new doors for workers as individuals and as collaborators. Now, many professionals work as members of virtual teams from the comfort of their own homes or local coworking spaces. There may be occasional in-person meetings, but a lot of work is done through email or other systems.
Here’s where things can get a little dicey. When it comes to work emails, less is more. You might feel like it’s best to email your entire team at every step, or to hit “reply all” when responding to another team member. However, a lot of time is wasted on superfluous emails. Estimates are that white-collar workers now spend an average of 20.5 hours a week checking work email.
Think of how much you could accomplish in just half of that time. So, don’t email anyone anything that doesn’t directly relate to them and their work. Resist the urge to add to your coworkers’ burden. Your teammates will appreciate it. And, you might even find that you start to receive fewer emails from them, too.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Estimates are that white-collar workers now spend an average of 20.5 hours a week checking work email. Resist the urge to add to your coworkers’ burden.” quote=”Estimates are that white-collar workers now spend an average of 20.5 hours a week checking work email. Resist the urge to add to your coworkers’ burden.”]
5. Be predictable
It’s nice when you know what you can expect from someone. When you’re working on being a better team member, predictability is a trait to cultivate. If you’re reliable about following through on intentions, others will notice and appreciate it. So, if you say you’re going to call that client tomorrow, be sure to do it.
Similarly, good teammates (and leaders) are emotionally predictable. If you’re moody, contentious, or all over the place emotionally, you might not be seen in the best light. Who wants to work with someone who can laugh off difficulties on day but flies off the handle the next? Instead, work to bring a calm and level attitude to your interactions with your team. Others will value and appreciate your stability.
Tell Us What You Think
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