Some of us prefer working alone; whereas some of us thrive in a team atmosphere. Like it or not, we are all going to need to work as part of a team at some point in our lives. Some researchers and professionals, such as Belbin, have defined team roles in the past, but does this exist in every team?
- Shaper – drives work forward and gets things done, has a clear idea of the desired direction of travel;
- Implementer – also gets things done, looking for ways to turn talk into action and generate practical activity;
- Completer-Finisher – focuses on completing tasks, and tidying up all the loose ends;
- Coordinator – manage the group dynamics, often in a leadership role;
- Team Worker – helps the team to work effectively by supporting personal relationships;
- Resource Investigator – gathers external resources and information to help the team;
- Plant – generates ideas and creative solutions, not all of them practical;
- Monitor-Evaluator – good at critically assessing ideas and proposals, and at making decisions; and
- Specialist – brings expert knowledge to the group, not always necessary to effective functioning.
This blog explores the qualities of an excellent team player and the behaviours you need to help others to cooperate with you.
Communication is a vital team skill that helps you to portray your ideas effectively and with clarity to others. This means having the ability to articulate an idea so that others can understand. This also refers to questioning and challenging ideas so that they can improve and develop.
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Following on from communication comes listening, and by that it means active listening. Lots of people, even in Director-level roles, struggle to listen. You will find that entering into the workforce can be tricky, especially with companies that are not looking to change (which can be super annoying when you have great ideas!) but patience with this is key.
Listening shows engagement and that you can consider other people's opinions and ideas. Listening actively by using body language to portray that you are interested and understanding what team members say is a fantastic way to show engagement.
Good negotiation skills are vital for successful teamwork , and something that can be a little harder to grasp than some of the others. This is a key skill for problem solving and decision making. When a team has many good ideas, negotiation skills are required to ensure that the best plan is made going forward. If you feel like your idea is the most developed, use persuasive skills to ensure it is chosen; but, do not be disheartened if it is not, and be happy that the best idea successful and know that you will have other opportunities in the future.
Confidence is important within a team but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance that needs to be avoided. No one likes an arrogant show-off in their team. You need to be confident enough to put forward something and stand by your ideas but not over confident that you discard other people's ideas or make them feel like they cannot contribute. Being part of a team is all about inclusion, so if you are someone that is naturally confident, ensure that everyone is having a say in the processes and plans of the team.
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Within a team, it is important to establish understanding on a few different levels:
- Understand how other members in the team work - some people work very quickly, some slowly, some reply to emails instantly, some have certain times of the day when they check them, some are quiet and some are loud. Ensuring that you have an awareness of other people's qualities will aid cooperation within the team.
- Understanding the common goal - although team members will have their own goals to work towards, it is important that every team member has the ultimate common goal in mind.
- If you are a team leader, understanding the way different things work within the team is vital. For example, reporting strategies, timings for different events and updates would be a few.
- Understanding when someone has a personal problem that may be slowing down the workload is another thing that you need to be aware of in a team, to ensure that you are not contributing to added pressure on an individual.
6. Flexibility/ Adaptability
Flexibility and adaptability allow you to adapt to change, both as an individual and as part of the team. Internalising flexibility allows you to adapt when things aren't going quite right. Fluid thinking stops you from getting stuck, which in turn opens the door to greater possibilities.
Being reliable is one of the most important team skills as unreliable team members can be seen as less trustworthy and may be set less important tasks. Reliability covers punctuality, meeting deadlines and sticking to promises. If you don't feel like you can complete something on time, ensure team members are informed. Trust me, people would rather be let down but kept in the loop about it than not knowing at all!
8. Conflict Resolution
Being able to resolve conflict is another one of the trickier skills to learn and implement, but as your career progresses and you begin to manage teams, it is something that will certainly crop up.
People conflict for all sorts of reasons, whether it is because they are passionate about their own ideas and they oppose, or some people just do not get on. When resolving a conflict, it is important not to take sides, and to try to find a common ground where both/ all parties are happy. This may mean combining or discarding their ideas all together, dependent on the situation.
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Having self respect and respect for others, their opinions and ideas, is an important, but sometimes overlooked element of teamwork. Congratulating team members when they perform well or picking them up when they are down are all signs of respect. This can also come when pitching your ideas as having faith in them and their potential benefits is a sign of self respect.