How to Be a Team Player
Learning how to work well with others is a crucial part of driving an organization towards success. If you’re working at your first paid or unpaid internship or entry-level job, it’s also a great way of showing that you’re committed to the position and to the company.
Here are a few qualities that can make a team player really shine in the workplace.
Identify your strengths, but try to be a utility player.
Know your strengths and use them to your advantage. A good team has people who can help out wherever is needed, but who also specialize in one area. Find out what your strength is and you will quickly become a revered member of the team. But be willing to jump in when someone on the team needs help or if the company faces an unforeseen challenge.
Being flexible is a big part of the reason you were hired. Lots of employers prefer hiring interns and recent grads because they have yet to become “set” in their ways. Being flexible and useful is going to be valuable to everyone around you, so make sure that you demonstrate that flexibility by finding out where you can be helpful and then doing your best to make a positive impact.
Added bonus: Being flexible means that you’ll likely be exposed to different opportunities and learn a lot more than you anticipated.
Avoid falling into the trap of “playing politics.”
If you haven’t worked in an office before, you might not be familiar with office politics. However, one of the realities of working as part of a team (both large and small) is that team dynamics can be tricky. If you want to give yourself the best chance of success, be situationally aware and sensitive to everyone’s needs. More importantly, don’t fall into the trap of gossiping about your co-workers. This can seem harmless in the moment but it can create a lot of problems for the team and the company. Instead, be real and be confident in what you contribute to the team on a daily basis. Your work should and will speak for itself.
Be prepared with solutions, not problems.
Good leaders are looking to hire people that will one day replace them. It’s your job to always come prepared with solutions to a problem, rather than just talking about the problem itself. Many times people fall into the trap of going to management with an issue and hoping it will be fixed for them, but it’s very important to address each problem or pain point you see with a possible solution. Being a key member of a team means offering solutions not only to your own problems but to problems other team members might be facing.