“Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.” – John C. Maxwell
We’ve all seen job descriptions that require applicants to be able to work well with others in a group setting. And if I’m being honest, the first thought that comes to my mind (and probably the minds of many) is: How hard can it be? It may seem like a simple task and a skill that many of us have, but it’s not always as easy you think – despite being taught to play nicely with others our whole lives.
Being able to work well in a team is an important skill that can be used in a number of settings. And even if we prefer working alone, it’s still important to be able to work with others if and when it’s needed. While it may not take great proficiency, below are a few things that are crucial for any team to be successful.
Knowing how to efficiently communicate with others is another thing that may appear simpler than it really is. One key skill is active listening, which is the ability to fully focus on what someone else is saying, both verbally and non-verbally. It’s important to be present in a conversation with your teammates/coworkers and to keep an open mind to what they are saying. Don’t interrupt, but do respond and ask questions to make sure that you fully understand (after they are finished speaking of course). Additionally, when it’s your turn to talk, pay close attention to your tone. For example, oftentimes we speak more aggressively than we mean to, or even too quietly without appropriate authority.
- Know your Strengths (and Weaknesses)
Whether we want to admit it or not, no one is perfect, and no one person can excel at every task handed to them. But that’s ok – especially when you’re working in a team, because you don’t have to do everything, let alone excel at everything. It’s not showing off if you take on tasks that you’re good at, and there’s no shame in asking for help with a task that you’re less good at. There will definitely be times when you have to work on something you may not be great at, but that’s how we learn, right? Don’t be afraid to use your teammates. And remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
In order to work successfully with others, you have to trust yourself and trust your team. Again, whether you’d like to admit it or not, you can’t do everything (well, maybe you can, but you probably can’t do it all well and in a timely manner). So, it’s important to trust your teammates with the tasks that they are in charge of. Sometimes you have to let go, and have faith that something you’re not working on will get done and be great. And just the same, you have to have faith in yourself with the assignments that you’re responsible for. You’re not always going to feel 100% about your work, but have a little faith – you got this, and no, you won’t let your whole team down. It may be hard to let go sometimes and to let someone else take the reins on a project, but be open to new opinions and new things, and use your teammates to brainstorm amazing ideas.
You may not always like your teammates, but you should possess a level of respect for them. You should respect the team leader, and likewise, the team leader has to respect his/her team. Everyone is putting in 100%, and whether or not you agree with everything your teammates do, you should respect their efforts. Show them that you value them. Be courteous, be encouraging, be nice.
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