5 Characteristics That Make An Effective Teammate
August 3, 2021
A majority of people agree that effective teamwork can lead to better productivity and higher morale. Think back to when you were in school and had to do group projects, there were always people you didn’t want in your group and there were a few you always wanted. Though some of the reasons for this may have been social, you still knew who could get the work done and who was going to let you down. Getting to the stage where the team is working as a cohesive unit takes time, but the payoff can be seen in both metrics and in the attitudes of the team. If you want to start seeing your team work better together, be the person to initiate that change, don’t wait around for someone else to do it. Exhibiting the characteristics of an effective team member will positively impact the overall quality of work from everyone.
Reliability or being accountable for your work is one of the most important attributes of a great teammate. Being able to rely on someone to get something done when it needs to is a big deal. Following through on your promises will start to instill a sense of reliability in your coworkers. Working with reliable people makes everyone’s lives easier and lessens the amount of work and stress for everyone. No one has to worry about micromanaging you, and the flow of work will never bottleneck. At the end of the day, make sure you deliver on your promises. This could mean your daily tasks, whatever your contract lists as your duties, or any tasks that you said you’d complete, just make sure to keep your word so your teammates don’t have to sacrifice their time to fix your mistake.
Being trustworthy is similar to being reliable, with the exception that trust transcends work. Being trusted will get you more than quality teammates, more than likely you’ll actually become friends with the people you work with. Trust is someone’s ability to count on you, work matters, personal matters, it could be in regards to anything, such as keeping a secret or being consistent.
As much as you should keep personal matters out of the workplace, there’s always some sort of bias when it comes to people. Meaning you’ll like who you like and you just won’t like others as much, sometimes not at all. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “those who perceive greater affection and caring from their colleagues perform better.” Working in a caring culture where trust is natural, results in having a team with better cohesion and higher levels of satisfaction. Being honest and open with your team is the best way to build trust. Establishing a connection with them and having that be the basis of your relationship makes the team see you as a trustworthy member. Circling back to the reliability factor, when you say you’re going to do something, follow through. This counts for non-working matters as well. If you promised a team member you’d help them over the weekend, do it. You want to be seen as a reliable and trustworthy member of the team.
Maintain A Positive Attitude
Being part of a team means that your actions and words affect everyone around you. Your choices could affect them positively or negatively, depending on what you do. Attitude is infectious and can spread quickly in a team setting. Staying positive even despite the circumstances against you will help your team persevere through any challenges. Showing others that you can be positive even when with an increasing number of challenges in front of you, boosts morale. On the opposite side of things, if all you do is complain about problem x, with regards to task y, then that sort of attitude will spread throughout the team, and soon no one will be having a good day, morale will be at an all-time low, and working will be miserable.
Knowledgeable employees are essential in a business setting, even more so in a team. That however isn’t enough, you have to be able to use or share that information in ways that benefit the team. This could include sharing ways to expedite certain processes, any methods to make a job easier, essentially anything that improves the quality of life for your team. If all you did was hoard information but never used it to benefit the people around you, the information is just going to waste.
Keeping an open mind is part of being knowledgeable. Being willing to learn is a necessity when learning. What this means is, sometimes you learn things that go against your beliefs, you need to be mature enough to accept this information and at a proper time, use it to further your team’s goal. Learning is a continuous process, no matter your age or experience level there is something to be learned. Keep this in mind and remember to share what you know, someone on your team might find it useful.
It should go without saying that excellent communication is needed to be an excellent team member. This idea comes in two parts, being able to accurately express yourself, as well as active listening skills. Having one or the other is okay, but in order to be more effective in a team, you need to be able to do both.
An efficient team needs to be honest with each other. They also have to be able to clearly express their ideas and make their point while still being respectful of their peers. No one likes it when they are attacked for sharing an idea. Staying respectful even while sharing is necessary to avoid conflict. In line with knowledge, try to say things that will benefit the team. If you know a certain piece of information isn’t important and it might bother someone, try keeping it to yourself. Another important aspect of communication is taking your time to listen before sharing your thoughts. Saying the first thing that comes to your mind is often a great way to make a situation worse.
Actively listening allows everyone to be on the same page. Being able to absorb information without rejecting the items you don’t believe in, is an invaluable skill, not only in the workplace but generally in life. It allows you to take criticism constructively, which is possibly the hardest part of learning to communicate effectively. If you take criticism as a way to improve as opposed to an attack on your ego, you will be able to make adjustments towards bettering yourself.
At the end of the day, the concept of being a good teammate is simple. Envision what you want in a teammate, and then exhibit those traits. Lead by example, even if you aren’t in a leadership position. People will follow a good example when they see it. This method of improving a team also lets you quickly find out who isn’t a good team player, which then allows the team to address the situation. On that note, make sure your team learns how to take feedback constructively or the situation might get worse.