We hear it all the time; be a team player. But in the midst of the millions of other requirements that need to be met in the workplace, being a ‘team player’ often gets thrown to the wayside. The reality is that when you commit to the success of your company and not just your own personal success, it is you who reaps the rewards.
What it Means
You can’t be a team player unless you first understand what it means. Being a member of a team means that you are not just striving for your own success, but for the success of those around you. In order for any workplace to do well, the entire environment needs to be up-to-par, not just your own performance.
This can manifest in any number of ways. It can mean staying late to help another team member with their part of a project. It can mean covering someone’s shift. Basically, it means you can’t just think about yourself, you have to be willing to help others.
Why it Matters
If you are just entering the workforce, it may seem counter-intuitive to worry about others when you’re just trying to make your own way in this hostile world. But in the end, it’s taking care of others that gets you where you need to go.
I learned the value of teamwork the hard way, and it cost me big time. I worked for a large corporation with a very close-knit team. Around the same time I was graduating, I was up for a promotion, and my competition was a fellow co-worker who had the same job as me. We were both good at what we did. The difference? I was always on time; she was often late. I did my job extremely well; she did less individual work, but helped others instead. I was always sharp and rested at work; she was tired from going out with co-workers the night before. I was sure I was getting that promotion; she got it instead.
Why? The answer is simple; she was more well-liked. Even though I was technically more efficient, she got the promotion because she had invested herself completely into the company, whereas I was just looking out for myself. She was a team player; I wasn’t.
What You Can Do
So how can you be a team player? Just treat your co-workers like family. If your siblings were bogged down with work and needed an extra hand, wouldn’t you give them one? Now apply that principle to your co-workers. You don’t have to go crazy doing people favors, but remember that those favors pay off. If you’re up for a promotion, your boss is going to remember the time you drove an hour to go pick up supplies when they were out of stock.
So the next time you see ‘team-player’ on a list of requirements for a job or internship you’re applying to, remember that those two little words make a big difference.