Learning to be a Team Player

By Zoe Taylor

Not everyone likes working in teams- some people prefer to work alone, and even think they work better that way. But in the professional world, there are a lot of times when you’ll have to work in a team, and if you’re uncomfortable with that it’s going to negatively effect both you and your team mates.

There are a few things you can do to overcome any shortcomings you have when it comes to working in teams.

Voice your Strengths and Weaknesses
Tell your team mates what you’re good and what you’re not so good at so that you can be responsible for parts of the project that compliment these. That way you’re comfortable with your tasks and you know that you won’t let the team down.

Get to Know Your Team Mates
It’s a lot easier to work in a team when you know a lot about the people you’re working with. You’ll find out what you have in common, and can use those things to spark conversations and even relate them back to the project you’re working on together.

Look at the Benefits
There are a lot of benefits about working in a team. You don’t have a large amount of work to do on your own. You can bounce ideas off your team mates to expand on them and make them bigger and better. You also get better feedback from your team mates because they have a better understanding of what you’re doing than someone outside your team, and therefore the feedback is more relevant. If you look at these positive aspects, you can start to appreciate team work a lot more.


Establish Your Best Form of Communication
If you feel that you communicate better via email or text, then use those tools to communicate with your team. You can also start online forums or create a shared Evernote notebook that your team can work and chat in together. If you communicate better by talking to someone in person or on the phone, but it’s hard for you and your team mates to be in the same room at once due to busy schedules, set up voice calls or Skype calls with your team. Most phones allow you to make conference calls (check out this link) and you can make group Skype calls too! It’s also important that you accept and take involvement in your team mates’ best forms of communications.

Be Upfront
If someone isn’t pulling their weight, have a discussion with them to find out why this is happening. Explain in a polite, calm way that you feel that they could be putting more work into the project, and add that you’re there to help or talk if needed, so that they know you’re not criticising (which can make them want to contribute even less to the project). In most cases this will resolve the issue and make the whole process of the project more enjoyable for yourself and your team.

Accept Criticism
If someone pulls you up on something – whether it be because you haven’t been working as hard as you could be on your part of the assignment, or you were late submitting something, or got something wrong – listen to what they have to say, and apologise. Let them know that you understand what they are saying and make a promise to work harder and better. If you have a reasonable explanation for why your work has slipped, give it to your team mates but don’t use it as an excuse.

If you work well on your own, that’s far from a bad thing. Working autonomously is also an important skill to have in the professional world. However if you can work both alone and in a team, this is highly beneficial for you no matter what career path you set out to follow.

For help in finding the right career path for you, or for useful tips on areas including studying and finding success, call 1800 143 080 or visit www2.collegesonline.com.au/mycareer to contact one of our friendly career advisors!

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