There’s a great deal written about how to lead teams, and a great deal written about sporting teams (which may or may not translate to organisation teams). But what if you’re a team member rather than the leader? Seems to me there’s not much out there to help you navigate that particular workplace challenge. So here are 6 tips to help you survive – or even thrive – in workplace teams:
1. Keep the purpose of your team very much in mind. Not sure what it is? You’re not alone. Far too many people join teams and just carry on with ‘business as usual’. So ask: “What is this team for? Why are we a team?” It may sound cheesy, but I think it’s a good idea to have this displayed where all can see. Get crystal clear on the purpose of your team and what the goals are.
2. Speak up. If you’ve got a concern, chances are that others have too. So you need to prepare, pick your moment, state what’s worrying you and why, adding what you think the impact of the problem could be. What if you get shouted down by the rest? Take note of what the others say and then see what happens. They may be right – or you may be. No-one likes a smart-ass, but at some later point you will need to gently (and maybe humorously) point out that you were right.
3. Listen to others. This is the flip side of ‘speak up’. Someone else in your team may have a concern or want to blow the whistle about something. Don’t shout them down: give them a fair hearing. They might just be right.
4. Be accountable. Too many teams undershoot their collective talents: the team performance often amounts to less than the sum of the individual parts. This is well documented and even has its own name: ‘social loafing’. We loaf when we think we’re not going to get called to account. So there’s a simple fix: be accountable and expect the same of others.
5. Play fair. Put a random bunch of people together and there’s huge potential for disagreement and conflict. Team conflict has spawned a whole industry. Stay above the in-fighting and play scrupulously fair with fellow team members, regardless of rank. Treat all team members with respect.
6. Say “Thank You” to at least one of your fellow team members every day.
You may find this post useful: ‘Teams A-Z’
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