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Are you a good team player?

Posted: 16 Aug 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:career? management? professional development? team player? cohesion?

Chatting: Being a good employee who works hard and is reliable does not necessarily extend into being a good team player.

There is an entire literature written on the subject of teams, as if their inevitability and necessity were self-evident. There is certainly plenty of proof that teams have an integral place in working life, but if we are to start at the beginning, we could ask: Why are teams important? In particular, what place do they have in a competitive business environment where individual assertiveness seems to be as highly prized as acting together?

As a consequence of prosperity and free markets, modern companies have moved away from the autocratic leadership of docile armies of workers who mindlessly respond to instruction toward organizations held together primarily by the willingness of employees to remain with them. Loyalty to an organization is achieved by producing superior services, generating a feeling that the organization is doing something worthwhile and for society's benefit, in general, and giving opportunity for the fulfillment of personal aspirations. Cohesion is no longer commanded and we must therefore rely on self-created gravity to hold the enterprise together.

If we are in this or any other organization by choice, then by definition, a cooperative environment must exist. What else typifies cooperation better than working within the context of a team? For an organization to view its departments or business units as anything other than a collection of teams, or itself as anything other than one single team, is to invite a disaster of fragmentation.

Being a good employee who works hard and is reliable does not necessarily extend into being a good team player. Team members understand instinctively that their jobs are integral parts of a larger apparatus and tied to overall company performance. Consequently, performing at an optimum level is in their best interests. Under these circumstances, team members will develop a sense of pride, ownership and commitment far exceeding that of any individual virtuoso performer.

Committed team members know how to contribute to every discussion through speaking plainly and listening actively. They also know that setting goals will make work easier and lead to greater job satisfaction, which in turn will make them more motivated and better workers. They also do not limit themselves with fear of failure, which inhibits creativity and effectiveness in the workplace.

Understanding and demonstrating the qualities of a committed team member will raise one's individual value to the organization and ultimately give a return in promotion opportunities and enhanced financial rewards. Collectively, the consequences of good teamwork will have a growing effect on the quality and success of the company, and progressively, the larger team will go from strength to strength.

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