When managers choose team members for a project team, they need to have a decision process to use.
Who would the best team members be? Assuming that the employees have the right technical skills for the work to be done, what other factors should be used to select team members?
Teams need strong team members to perform well. But what defines which employees are strong team players?
While no list in totally inclusive, these are team members’ traits that have been identified by managers as having a high success rate.
· Demonstrates reliability. Management can count on a reliable team member who gets work done and does his fair share to work hard and meet commitments. He follows through on assignments. Consistency is key. Management can count on him to deliver good performance all the time.
· Communicates constructively. Teams need employees who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly, and with respect for others and for the work of the team. That's what it means to communicate constructively. Such a team member does not shy away from making a point but makes it in the best way possible — positive, confident, and respectful.
· Listens actively. Good listeners are essential for teams to function effectively. Teams need team members who can absorb, understand, and consider ideas and points of view from other people without debating and arguing every point. Such a team member also can receive criticism without reacting defensively. Most important, for effective communication and problem solving, team members need the discipline to listen first and speak second.
· Active participant. Good team members are active participants. They come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions. They're fully engaged in the work of the team and do not sit passively on the sidelines. They do not show up to an important status meeting and report they were too busy to work on the project last week. Team members who function as active participants take the initiative to help make things happen, and they volunteer for assignments.
· Share openly. Good team members share. They're willing to share information, knowledge, and experience. They take the initiative to keep other team members informed. Much of the communication within teams takes place informally. Beyond discussion at organized meetings, team members need to feel comfortable talking with one another and passing along important news and information day-to-day.
· Cooperates and helps. Cooperation is the act of working with others and acting together to accomplish a job. Effective team members work this way by second nature. Good team players, despite differences they may have with other team members concerning style and perspective, figure out ways to work together to solve problems and get work done. They respond to requests for assistance and take the initiative to offer help.
· Flexibility. Teams often deal with changing conditions, and often create changes themselves. Good team members roll with the punches; they adapt to ever-changing situations. They don't complain or get stressed out because something new is being tried or some new direction is being set. In addition, a flexible team member can consider different points of views and compromise when needed. He doesn't hold rigidly to a point of view and argue it, especially when the team needs to move forward to make a decision or get something done.
· Commitment. Strong team members care about their work, the team, and the team's work. They show up every day with this care and commitment up front. They want to give a good effort, and they want other team members to do the same.
· Problem solving. Teams, of course, deal with problems. Good team members are willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solutions-oriented manner. They're problem-solvers, not problem-dwellers. They don't simply rehash a problem the way problem-dwellers do. Team players get problems out in the open for discussion and then collaborate with others to find solutions.
· Support. Team members consistently treat fellow team members with courtesy and consideration. In addition, they show understanding and the appropriate support of other team members to help get the job done. They don't place conditions on when they'll provide assistance, when they'll choose to listen, and when they'll share information. Good team members also have a sense of humor and know how to have fun but not at another’s expense.
Strong, effective team members look beyond their own piece of the work and care about the team's overall success. In the end, their commitment is about winning as a team.
There are different types of workplace teams. There is also a difference between work groups and work teams. Next week, JobsSunday examines these differences.