As a member of a team, you have a responsibility to help your co-workers, just as you’d expect them to offer assistance when you need it. However, when we’re all busy with our own responsibilities, we may not always be mindful of the challenges our colleagues are facing.
That’s why we asked the members of Forbes Coaches Council what professionals can do to create the most mutually supportive dynamic between themselves and their teammates. Below, they share 14 ways you can focus on becoming the best team player you can be to better support and collaborate with your colleagues.
1. Invest Emotionally In Conversations
Our lives are defined by the conversations we can and cannot (are unable to) have with others. Focus on being emotionally invested in conversations by listening to understand, being curious and asking about others’ wants and needs. This type of holistic influencing automatically creates a deeper emotional connection, which will trigger some emotional bonding each time this style of listening is repeated. – Samantha Tassone, GrowthFuel
2. Work On Being As Self-Aware As Possible
There are a number of activities where you can truly evaluate your self-awareness. Understanding how your teammates perceive you is an important and necessary step in learning how to become a better team player. Teams generally become more productive as more of the members increase their self-awareness. – Donald Hatter, Donald Hatter Inc.
3. Build Trust To Close Gaps
When working with clients and in my own life, I use Judith E. Glaser’s TRUST model: Transparency, Relationship, Understanding, Shared success and Truth-telling (the difficult truths). Where are the gaps with your co-workers and teammates? Work together to close them. – Brian Gorman, TransformingLives.Coach
4. Ask For Feedback And Implement It
The most important thing you can do to become a better co-worker and team player is to ask others for feedback regularly and then implement it. You may think you are listening and taking in feedback, but often you may rationalize your behavior. This leads others to not tell you the truth. Demonstrate your ability to listen fully, ask for details and show that you understand by changing your behavior. – Christine Allen, Ph.D, Insight Business Works
5. Think Long-Term And Build Connections
Think long-term: Ask yourself how you interact with co-workers. Do you just have a transactional relationship where you only engage with them when you need something? Rather, consider their needs and build a personal connection; I call it interpersonal “glue.” Co-workers want to feel heard, feel that relationships are two-way streets and believe that you’ll be there in hard times and good times. – Julie Kantor, PhD, JP Kantor Consulting
6. Seek Feedback From Multiple Sources
Getting feedback is the best way to improve as a teammate. Comprehensive, timely and actionable feedback from bosses, peers and subordinates is the fast track to advancement. Let them know you are open to constructive feedback, both good and bad. You can’t consistently grow as a professional without knowing how others perceive you. Ask yourself, “What don’t I know about myself that could change everything?” – Steven Pfrenzinger, Executive Coaching for the Highly Ambitious
7. Make Your Communication Meaningful
A great team relationship is built on great communication. Don’t take your conversations for granted; make them meaningful. How? Show yourself to be trustworthy. Expect that others have a different perspective than your own and honor that. Listen actively and ask clarifying questions to understand the other person better. You’ll find that setting this example gets reciprocated in the best of ways! – Mark Batson Baril, Resologics
8. Give And Receive Feedback Regularly
Being a good teammate involves giving and receiving feedback. When we do this on a regular basis, it results in improving our individual performance and also our collective results as a team. However, some teams may not have a culture of giving feedback. That’s why going first and asking others for feedback will help them to get comfortable giving it. – Kirsten Meneghello, Illumination Coaching LLC
9. Help Each Other Win With A Common Purpose
Most people approach the team they are on by thinking, “What do I need from these people?” The best thing you can do is figure out, “How can we help each other and the team as a whole succeed?” High-performing teams share a common purpose and are willing to help each other win. In most situations, the individual wins when the team wins, not the reverse. – Bill Berman, Ph.D., ABPP, Berman Leadership Development
10. Be Open To Ideas And Opinions Of Others
Being open to the ideas and opinions of others contributes positively to developing trust and creating stronger teams. Good leaders realize they don’t have all the answers and that they need input from team members to move a company or initiative forward. Especially during this difficult time of remote working, collaboration, patience and humility are essential skills needed to navigate this new normal. – G. Riley Mills, Pinnacle Performance Company
11. Know What Role To Play To Help The Team
Being part of a team means focusing on what is best for the team, not what is best for any one individual. To be a more effective teammate, you need to know what role to play to help the team and all involved be successful and not focus on what you want or enjoy doing. The success of the team must supersede all other things in order for you to be a great teammate. – Dan Ryan, ryan partners
12. Understand Your Operating System
Grow your awareness about your own operating system. What inspires you? What pushes your hot buttons? How do you tend to listen, speak and react? Do the work to get clear about your own behaviors and share what you’ve learned about yourself with others in advance. Then, ask for their help to improve the qualities that aren’t helping you be the teammate you want to be. – Darcy Eikenberg, PCC, Red Cape Revolution
13. Ask Thoughtful Questions
Ask questions such as these before starting a project: “What can I do to make sure I work together on this with you? How can we stay aligned and work on this best? And what should I do to help you so that we can meet the goals of this project?” If you listen openly, take notes and make this a pre-project question or checklist, you will avoid a lot more bumps and bruises along the way. Don’t assume the answers. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
14. Become A Better Listener
Being a better teammate means becoming a better listener. While you’ve no doubt heard this simple advice before, few understand what it means. Being a good listener requires providing the space for your co-workers to share their ideas and concerns without interruption or judgment. Then, ask questions to clarify and resist the urge to counter with your own thoughts until you fully understand. – Cheryl Czach, Cheryl Czach Coaching and Consulting, LLC