Remember gym class as a kid, when the teacher picked two captains and then they took turns selecting classmates for their respective teams?
As a skinny kid, it was a brutal process, especially when the activity required big strong kids. And yet it worked great for creating balanced teams. The captains knew the skills they needed to win, and they knew who possessed them.
While some in the pool tried to use their connections to get the nod, for the most part the process ignored popularity and focused only on the qualities required by the game. Back then it was all about physical stuff: Size, strength, speed coordination. Depending on the game, a few technical skills came into play as well.
Now imagine picking people to be on your work team. The physical stuff likely no longer needs to be on the table for consideration, unless of course you are picking teammates to lay sod. In that case the circumstances haven’t changed much.
If you are a knowledge worker, someone working with ideas and information, rather than physical objects; you need people with different qualities. I’d suggest nine of them.
As you review the list, think about yourself. If you want to be an effective team member, then you need to take an honest look at the degree to which you possess these.
Your position requires a set of key skills. If the interview process was effective, you likely had the skills when you were hired. As the position changes, you continue to add to and maintain your skills so that you are always fully equipped to succeed in your role.
Your teammates can depend on you. You keep your promises. You show up prepared. You are honest and genuine. People know you always consider their best interests.
You pull your weight. You work hard. You focus your energy on meeting goals and objectives, both your own and the team’s. You fully own your share of the team’s overall responsibilities.
You approach problems as part of a team. You know that everyone has something to contribute, and you fully participate in exchanging ideas, questions, and concerns that lead to better decisions and stronger results.
You give voice to your wants and needs in a manner that is direct, timely, and respectful. When others express themselves, you listen well and provide helpful responses.
You like your teammates and they like you. People think of you as kind, cheerful, and respectful. You create a positive vibe within the team. People are happier when they are around you.
You go out of your way to help your coworkers. You jump in and offer a hand when they are overwhelmed. You cheer their successes, and offer comfort at their setbacks.
You enjoy the give and take that goes with teamwork. You carefully consider all ideas with an open mind. When a situation calls for you to be flexible, you make your best effort to accommodate the situation.
Working through difficult issues, advocating for new ideas, or challenging higher authority are all risky propositions. You don’t wait for someone else to do the tough stuff. You step up when the need is before you.
How did you do?
My guess is that you have some strengths and a few opportunities for development. We all do. For example I think trustworthy and adaptable are at the top of my list. At times I struggle with committed and collaborative. That’s what happens when you work on your own for 23 years.
Pick your areas for improvement. Make your plan for changing them. I’d be interested in knowing what you picked.
If you’re interested in conveying these ideas to people within your group, I’ve built a short workshop around these qualities. I’d be happy to come in and lead a session for your team.