Five Tips on Becoming a Better Team Player

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." Michael Jordan, who is considered one of the best basketball players ever.

Playing for your side is not just something you do on the basketball court or the soccer pitch.

Being successful in your job means getting really good at being a team player too.

Companies expect their employees to pull together to get things done efficiently and to objective. That is because teams bring the power of diverse perspectives, approaches, and skills sets to the resolution of business challenges or problems. Teams drive momentum, increase motivation and accountability, and help build an environment where people can learn from each other. This way they can leverage that learning to the advantage of the business.

Doing your bit as a part of a team signals that you are able to contribute to the organization as a whole by lending your expertise or areas of strength to the collective – and collaborative - effort.

So what does it take to up your abilities for the benefit of your team?

5 Tips for Be a Good Team Player

Know the Score

Good team players understand what the team needs to do and why. And they know how their skills and attributes contribute to collective effort.  Simply taking orders from others is a fast track to resentment and disengagement. When you are playing for the team, you know where you are, why you are there and how to support and enhance the work of others.

Support your teammates

Make it your priority to recognize and encourage teammates in their work when something goes well. If there is a challenge, reach out to teammates if you can help.

Offer constructive criticism

Because you understand your collective goals – and how you and your teammates all contribute in reaching those goals – you can offer advice and help when you encounter obstacles. But be careful. People respond well when they know that you are genuine and that criticism is constructive and helpful and geared to the accomplishment of a joint objective. So be sincere as well as honest. Real team players do not undermine colleagues to score points.

Deal with conflict

It’s almost impossible to avoid conflict in the workplace. One way or another, people will clash – especially if you are all working to tight deadlines or under a degree of stress. Remember that one of the great virtues of a good team is that it brings together diverse skills and different personalities. When disagreements do occur, team players step up to the table with solutions and ideas – and are capable of taking the same constructive criticism that they give others. Conflict management is a really key skill and a core leadership capability, wherever you are in your career or whatever your aspirations might be.

Be clear about your boundaries

Part of being assertive, whether it is dealing with conflict or managing the expectations of other people, is knowing where your own limitations lie - and by extension, your boundaries. Committing to a team project is also all about being realistic about that commitment. Over-committing or being overly keen to please can lead to stress, resentment, and the kind of obstacles that can de-rail a collective project. Knowing when to say no, or how to negotiate with a team leader or a colleague so that the work gets done well and to realistic deadlines is key.

Becoming adept at team sportsmanship is not always easy and it can take time and experience.

But hang on in there and remain true to yourself, to your commitments, to a sense of respect for others and you will be part of the winning team in the end.