We all realize from early in life that every day we are involved in some activity where we are performing jointly with others; in short we are working or performing in groups or teams. We all learn this right from our formative school going years. Whether it be a game of football or a group project assigned by the science teacher. Later in life especially in the workplace, we realize that almost nothing in the organization can be achieved without cooperation and collaboration between people and groups of people. So what then is a team? In simple words it can be termed as a group of people working towards a common purpose.
If we all learnt the centrality of team performance to success so early in our lives, why then is the constant reminder and persuasion in later years especially within organizations to follow this path. Simply because it is not the natural state for anyone. In other words it needs constant effort on the part of everyone to develop and deploy team performance skills. So what then are these skills and how can they be developed? A few tips are given below.
Common Purpose: The first is to realize that the group / team is engaged in a single or single set of common goals. Each member of the team needs to commit himself or herself to this common goal. While an individual member may have had a different viewpoint with respect to the goal, once the goal is decided by the team or leader, this individual needs to accept this objective and work towards achieving it.
Respect for other team members: A good team player needs to understand and respect the abilities and contribution of other team members. Just as in a cricket team, each player has different skills capabilities and strengths, so also in other teams. Each player is in the team because of his special abilities and uses these to contribute to the overall objective. Each such skill and strength is no less valuable than any other skill and needs to be respected. A related aspect is trust in all other team members.
Support and assist other team members: A good team member realizes that at times other team member/s may be in difficulty or going through a lean patch. At such times he pitches in with ideas, suggestions, support and encouragement to enable the other to overcome his difficulty and reach optimum level of performance. This is done with the right attitude not to belittle the other but to support him in the overall interests of the team. This often requires an element of honesty and constructive criticism to set right any deviation from team objectives.
Seek others’ views and solicit participation: A good team member or a leader seeks opinions, ideas, suggestions and views of other team members with the objective of finding the best option and solution in a situation. This also paves the way for consensus to be reached among team members on the final decision.
Managing conflicts: Every team is bound to find itself in situations where there are different viewpoints and even disagreements among team members.
Good team members learn to acknowledge and respect such differing viewpoints and address the issue through open, frank discussions and finally drive towards consensus. They do net let these differing viewpoints come in the way of achieving the team’s objectives.
Keep upgrading skills: Every good team member realizes that he is part of the team in order to perform a specific role and he must do it to the best possible.
For this he would need to constantly practice (as in a sports team) and upgrade his own skills to ensure that his contribution to his team remains relevant and valuable and enables meet the team objectives.
The above is not an exhaustive list of all attributes required in members to build successful teams. The requirements of different kinds of teams could be different and would vary in different situations. However the above should serve as a guide to all individuals to become valuable members of successful teams. And this would be necessary, because as the Basketball legend Michael Jordan said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”