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4 Ways to Be a Better Team Player at Work

By Maurie Backman - Nov 15, 2019 at 10:04AM

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Sometimes, succeeding on a personal level means doing so at the team level.

Succeeding at work doesn't just come down to completing assignments in a satisfactory manner and meeting deadlines. Often, it means adding value to your team by supporting your colleagues and collaborating with them to hit the goals your manager maps out.

In fact, being a strong team player is easier said than done, because it requires you to balance your own objectives and needs against the needs of your team on a whole. But if you're invested in being a better team player, here's how to pull it off.

1. Identify your team's primary needs

Maybe your team is lacking a solid project manager, or someone to take charge of presentations. Even if that's not your natural strong suit, it pays to become the person who's willing to step up and fuel everyone's joint success. Not only will your teammates appreciate you more, but your boss is apt to feel similarly, and once that happens, the next raise or promotion could be yours.

Man and woman fist-bumping at a table where a laptop is open


2. Have the patience to teach

When your team members struggle, you may be tempted to jump in and take over some tasks for them. And that's unquestionably helpful. But if you really want to add value to your team, don't just keep bailing out your colleagues. Rather, spend some time teaching them how to overcome challenges or grow the skills they seem to be lacking. In doing so, you'll better position them to help the team more.

3. Let others snag the spotlight

It's natural to want recognition when you push yourself to do a good job and contribute substantially to team initiatives. But if you hog the spotlight too much, your colleagues may come to harbor some resentment toward you. A better bet, therefore, is to make sure your peers are getting credit for their contributions as well -- even if you're the one who has to give it to them. In doing so, you're sure to gain their appreciation and respect.

4. Communicate well

Being a solid communicator isn't always such an easy thing, especially when work gets busy and there's pressure to produce. But if you manage to communicate well with your teammates, you'll create a scenario where everyone has an easier time synching up and doing their work accurately.

To this end, think about the things you're tasked with and how they might impact your teammates. Do you compile data on a weekly basis that your colleagues use for different purposes? If so, you might think about ways to present it better. Similarly, if you're in charge of a major project, you'll want to communicate updates efficiently so that everyone is on the same page.

The stronger a team player you are, the more likely you are to climb the ladder internally, and to achieve whatever career-related goals you've established for yourself. Just as importantly, becoming a better team player could be the way to build strong, mutually supportive relationships with the folks you work with on a regular basis. And that could make your job more manageable, and more pleasant, on the whole.

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