01 October 2015

10 traits that make up a good team player

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From kindergarten all the way to retirement and beyond, most of us have to deal with team work. I remember at university, every time a professor announced a new assignment half of the class would quickly ask if they could do the work as a team while others – like me – stared them down and wished they could throw fire darts out of their eyes so the others wouldn’t give the professor any ideas.

It’s not that I didn’t like team work, but rather that I have a knack for pairing up with people who don’t have the same priorities or work ethics as my own. For example, it’s unacceptable to make your team wait an hour for you because ‘your flatmate was taking a shower’. It’s unacceptable that you couldn’t hand in your part of the work because your grandma died… for the fourth time. It’s ABSOLUTELY unacceptable to give my part of the work to one of your friends in the class just to help them out to then find out that your friend plagiarised my part of the work and that I’M in trouble.

In other words, I’ve had pretty bad experiences with team work, but when I do find someone who demonstrates the following qualities identified by the ‘For Dummies’ series, boy do we deliver the best product.

The best team player:

1.       Demonstrates reliability. You say it, you do it.

2.       Communicates constructively. Don’t be shy to share your thoughts, but find a way of doing it respectfully and making a positive contribution!

3.       Listens actively. All good to make a point and give your opinion, but your teammates probably have their word to say as well. Be ready to take criticism without being defensive.

4.       Functions as an active participant. If you’re there, be all there. Don’t be a passive slug that shows up to a meeting, doesn’t engage, contribute or even listen to what’s going on. Wake up.

5.       Shares openly and willingly. Share experience, knowledge, information and stories. Don’t keep relevant things to yourself and help keep your team in the loop.

6.       Cooperates and pitches in to help. Cooperation means you work with others. Don’t micromanage your colleagues and – on the other end of the spectrum – don’t be shy to put your hand up and contribute to the work.

7.       Exhibits flexibility. Life happens and you have to understand and accept that your peers may have things come up. Don’t whine or freak out because the plan won’t go EXACTLY as you had expected. Flexibility means that you have to be able to work around unexpected events, but it also means that you have to be flexible in your opinion. If you and your teammates have different opinions, figure out how to meet halfway. 

8.       Shows commitment to the team. To be a good teammate, you have to care about your work and show that you care about it. No one likes someone who’s too laid back or too indifferent.

9.       Works as a problem-solver. The good team player will be a problem-solver, not a problem-maker.

10.   Treats others in a respectful and supportive manner. Consistently. Not just when you feel like it. It’s the golden rule: treat other the way you want to be treated. Offer the support you would want and expect in return.

If you want to be that person that everyone turns when a new team project is announced, make sure to follow these tips. If you prefer not following our advice and want to take example on that girl I erased from my contact list as soon as the final thesis was over, well congratulations! You’ve just been branded the worst team player.

Although Alexandra didn’t know much about conference production before first coming across this opportunity with Akolade, she has quickly become passionate about her job. Gaining in-depth knowledge in a variety of new fields without going through exam stress? Who could ask for more? If ever you speak to Alexandra and wonder what that funny accent is, it is from Quebec, French-speaking Canada. Do not hesitate to ask Alexandra about her former life on the 47th parallel; she will be thrilled to talk to you about snow storms, skiing and -35⁰c!

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