What is a team player?
The team player concept has its origin in team sports, where collaboration and communication is critical.
It is often put forward that a team with “mediocre” players working really hard for each other can defeat a team with ego-oriented stars. But being a team player does of course not equate mediocrity. On the contrary, having team player qualities is often a prerequisite for going anywhere at all in the world of sports.
In a business setting, the team player concept is of great importance. Deliverables must be provided on time and with sufficient quality, and there are competitors to stay ahead of. Job advertisements often require the applicant to be a good team player.
What does it really mean to be a team player?
This is our definition.
Understands that teamwork requires collaboration
A team player understands that teamwork is more than just setting up a goal, dividing up tasks and then get slugging on in isolation. It requires continual collaboration and negotiation of conflicting constraints and sub-goals. Problems can and will occur. And when they do, the team player is there to point them out and help resolve them in an efficient way.
Psychological aspects come into play when external pressure is mounting and unforeseen obstacles come up.
A team player embraces change as something natural and is able to change course when needed. A team player does not whine about changes and put the head in the sand.
Shares information and resources with other team members
A team player is always concerned with keeping everyone up to date. He or she understands that relying on know-it-all individuals makes a team vulnerable.
Did you read something interesting and relevant on the web? Share it. Did you get important information from a customer? Share it. Did you hear about a new product update from a competitor? Share it.
Insists on having a clear goal
A team player knows that the team performs best when they have a clear goal for their tasks at hand. He or she makes sure that goals are set and that they are clearly articulated.
Everyone may not agree on all details, but without a goal being clearly articulated, the alternative is just plain confusion.
Of course, insisting on working towards a clear goal is not the same thing as being obnoxious about it…
Finds ways to prioritize work
The team player knows that one cannot do everything at once. Planning and prioritization is an important part of team work, and the team player makes sure to align the work with the short and long-term goals of the team, as well as with the ongoing work of other team members.
Maintains a positive and constructive attitude
Sometimes things get tough and conflicts arise. Deadlines are coming up and the team struggles to meet their goals on time. The team player makes sure to keep a positive attitude and try to make everyone feel appreciated. When criticism is due, the team player makes sure to provide it a constructive manner.
So, is it easy to be a team player? Heck no! Would you like your team mate to be one? You bet!
BONUS! 5 tricks how you can become a happy team player!