Effective teamwork is the backbone of a successful organization. When you join forces with your coworkers in a productive way to reach a common goal, then you see results. This is how bright ideas come into focus, creative solutions take shape and unique perspectives are brought to the table. Being a good team player pays off.
As necessary as this skill is, however, collaboration is one of the top three challenges that employees face in their current roles. This is especially true for remote or hybrid teams as they don’t always have the benefit of creating in-person relationships with each other.
How do you become a better team player and help reinforce a collaborative culture in this landscape? Boost your overall performance and bring more value to your team with these strategies and ideas.
Learn how to lead and follow
In order to motivate and inspire collaboration on a team, your first instinct might be to lean into your leadership skills. However, being a team player means that you know when to lead and when follow someone else’s lead. You don’t have to take the helm all the time to earn the respect of your fellow team members.
Research from Frontiers in Psychology found that teams who focus on reciprocal leader-follower relationships tend to exhibit strong communication. They also eek to understand all points of view, solve problems and make decisions effectively, and manage conflict in a way that maintains interpersonal trust.
Be confident enough to lead when the situation calls for it, but have the humility to be a committed follower too.
Ask for help and honest feedback
No matter how proficient you are on the job, there will always be a coworker with an area of expertise you don’t have. Instead of perceiving their skillset as a threat, set your ego aside and ask for their help or input. This can feel uncomfortable at first, but the outcome is mutually beneficial. It’s an opportunity for the other person to share their knowledge and a chance for you to up-skill.
Moreover, when you’re open to learning from a peer, this experience will teach you more than just how to perform the task in question.
You will also gain important character traits that make you a better team player, according to Kelly Palmer and David Blake, co-authors of The Expertise Economy. You’ll learn how to be vulnerable and empathetic, handle viewpoints that might differ from yours, and accept constructive feedback, point out.
Use active listening
A common pitfall in communication is listening only to respond, rather than listening to understand the speaker. The next time you interact with a team member, ask yourself: “Am I listening, or am I waiting for my turn to talk?” Instead of formulating your response, this technique encourages you to be present in the conversation.
Active listeners ask clarifying questions, validate the speaker’s thoughts, and pay attention to their nonverbal cues. This creates emotional intelligence and promotes psychological safety. Here’s more on why psychological safety is important at work.
Highlight the strengths and talents in others
You might think someone else’s career success has the potential to undermine your own. However, the more you empower others to use their strengths, the more successful your whole team will be. People often rise to the occasion when their contributions are recognized.
In fact, 41 percent of employees want recognition from their immediate coworkers and peers, according to this research.
By recognizing others, you all become stronger. For example:
- Does one coworker consistently deliver excellent presentations? Affirm this talent.
- Does another colleague produce brilliant social media content? Tell them you’ve noticed it.
- Does someone else have a flair for establishing solid customer relationships? Communicate that you admire this.
Positive reinforcement builds trust and team cohesion, while inspiring everyone to tap into their assets and do their best work.
Better team player, better work
Effective collaboration is a natural byproduct of strong relationships, so follow these steps to become a better team player in the workplace.
Whether you’re in an office or tuning in from a virtual screen, become the best team player you can be. Not only will this improve your morale and connections, it can also give your performance that extra boost.