We often use the word “team” to describe just about any combination of people, but a true team is not simply a set of individuals. A group of individuals still has personal ego concerns — there’s a primary focus on self, while true teams remove that element. A team’s work is focused on a larger goal or purpose, with everyone understanding the greater good to the work being performed.
Real teams can be difficult to create and don’t last forever, often being designed for a specific project or objective. If you recently watched the Tokyo Olympics, you likely saw this in action. Teams that won gold medals in basketball, soccer, and relay races will almost certainly not be composed of the exact same individuals for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
The good news? A group of individuals can become a team, no matter whether the individuals are all working in the same physical space, remotely, or in a hybrid set-up. Your attitude about, and approach to, being part of a team can have an impact on the entire team’s success. Read on for key strategies you can utilize to become a more effective team member.
You Can Make the Difference
Regardless of your role on a team, there are ways to develop into a better team member. Not only does this lead to a more successful team, but it can ultimately make the team experience more productive and even enjoyable for you as an individual.
- Set the tone — What’s the current mood of the team? What’s your current mood toward the team? What kind of mood do you want to set? Notice any differences and set the tone for the team in ways that can help shift the team to be closer to the desired state.
- Develop and maintain a positive mindset — Although sometimes easier said than done, focus on the benefits of working on a team. Concentrate on team members’ positive aspects. Accept mistakes, learn from them, and then move on.
- Be proactive — Identify opportunities for action. Be sure to gain approval or acceptance from the rest of the team.
- Demonstrate respect — Acknowledge others’ rights to hold differing opinions. Use nonjudgmental, objective language.
- Work collaboratively — Share pertinent knowledge with the team. Consider the team’s needs, not just your own.
Being a Good Virtual and Hybrid Team Member
Virtual and hybrid teams have become more and more common and can present unique challenges to working together as a unified team. Working from various locations requires each member of a team to possess a specific set of skills and characteristics that allows the team to function effectively. It’s important to develop and consciously improve these skills and traits so that you can contribute more effectively as a team member regardless of where everyone on your team is located.
- Be independent and disciplined — It’s up to each team member to be accountable and professional. Plan and confirm daily goals and stick to deadlines. Think ahead, anticipate needs and make sure you have what’s needed to complete tasks with minimal support.
- Learn to manage complexity and uncertainty — You may also face greater uncertainty regarding roles and responsibilities. Strive to be tolerant, flexible, and ready to take the initiative to get what you need to complete your work. Stick to designated workflows and established processes, and be able to discern when to make independent judgments and when to wait until a next move is approved or specific information becomes available.
- Be proactive, cooperative, and able to network — Take the first step, communicating with others as soon as problems arise and seek advice, insight, information, and consensus on solutions. Working in a different space than your teammates makes it easier to ignore issues or put off responses, so it’s especially important to be proactive and follow up. Form good team relationships and participate in regular virtual or in-person meetings, even when work is going smoothly.
- Be comfortable with technology — You’ll generally rely more on a wide range of tools to communicate, share documents, and collaborate — for example, Microsoft Teams or Zoom, cloud storage, and internal file-sharing and project management platforms. All team members must be able to use suitable tools to present and share information.
Although we often have no choice of who’s on our teams, there are always strategies we can use to be an effective and influential team member. Learn more using the self-paced elevateU resources below and contact Organization and Professional Development at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding individual and department offerings that can lead to greater team success.