10 Ways You Hurt Yourself When You Won't be a Team Player
A Note From The Editor
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There’s a lot to be said about the benefits of being a team player. You can build meaningful relationships with your colleagues and managers as well as be part of creating success within your organization or business. Being an active member of a team also helps you increase your own productivity and opens the door to more career opportunities.
However, if you don’t remember to be a team player, you can hurt your chances at leveraging these benefits and even a potential step up the career ladder. You may not realize it, but these 10 behaviors are getting in the way of you not being the team player you would want to be:
1. Lack of clear communication.
As a member of a team, you need to tell the other members what you are doing and make it as clear, easy and understandable as possible. If you have any role where you are in charge of delegating, then you also need to provide clear communication so they know what they are doing and what your expectations are. If you don’t provide this type of communication, there will be misunderstandings, arguments, and a lower level of productivity.
2. Not actively listening.
At the same time, if you are not actively listening you are not being a team player. Active listening means that you don't make up your mind in your head about what you think you are hearing from others. You need to ask questions and listen to the answers to make sure that you really understand what the other person is saying and the direction they believe the project is heading.
Related: 6 Steps to Build a Strong Team
While you may believe you know what your team and bosses need, if you were not actively listening you might not have any idea what is actually said. By making eye contact while listening, the other person will know you are paying attention rather than seeing you staring at your phone or even talking to someone else or texting at the same time.
3. Don’t ask for, or ignore, feedback.
If you never ask your team members for feedback on how you are doing, you may never know how to really improve yourself nor will you realize how you can be helping the rest of the team. Even worse is getting feedback and then totally ignoring it. This hurts team morale and puts you in a place where you (and they) may never get better.
Without following the feedback, you’ll be less valuable to your team and even the company. Instead, ask others what you could be doing better and then act on their feedback. Obviously you don't need to implement every suggestion, but almost every suggestion deserves consideration.
4. Alienate yourself from team meetings.
When you don’t show up or get involved in team meetings, you are sending the message that you don’t want to be part of the team, the decision-making processes, or the actual work. While you think that you may be a better independent worker and prefer to work that way, your teammates may want to hear your ideas and opinions as well as have you contribute in a way that helps the team finish their tasks or even assists others in learning more based on the knowledge you have to offer. Don’t skip out on these meetings and events. It will end up creating unnecessary conflict.
5. An inability to compromise.
When you are on a team, it’s no longer about just you and what you want. It means everyone’s feelings and opinions about issues and projects must be considered. You might be used to doing things your way or getting what you want, so if you don’t compromise when others are involved, your team will experience conflict. The impact may even be that work stops while everyone tries to work out where a compromise can be made regardless of whether you are fighting it the whole time.
Related: 5 Tips for Effective Team Meetings
Learn to appreciate what others have to say and consider where you can implement the new ideas and let another team member have their say on some things. While you may be heading up the project, you can usually add ideas onto any project and make it better. If you compromise, generally the other team members will follow suit.
6. Doing the bare minimum.
When you are relying on your team members to do the majority of the work and you are doing the least amount possible, your team members will notice and probably decide they can’t rely on you. While a team can now rely on many tools and technology to facilitate work, you still need to do your share. At this point, if they do succeed, then your team will resent that you are enjoying any of the glory or rewards. Instead of doing the bare minimum, see where you can do more or go out of your way to help on a problem or take on extra work that needs to get done.
7. Lack of flexibility.
Similar to a lack of compromise, your inflexibility can hurt the team. Are you the type who will not adapt to changes or revised plans? Inflexibility tends to cause further delays in meeting deadlines or hitting targets. Inflexibility drains people of their energy which could be better used for the project. Instead, understand that things happen and changes may mean doing things differently than you expected. If you are on board with the rest of the team, these delays or changes will not stop the team from accomplishing what they need to for the company.
8. Not helping with the small stuff.
While it may seem like nothing, the rest of your team will notice that you are not doing even the littlest things around the office or on a project that could actually add up to a big difference in the overall scheme of things. Your team members are not there to handle the housekeeping duties for you as if they are staff. Instead, see where you an take on a few office tasks or do something that shows you care about your team and want to alleviate anything that helps them to focus on their core work. Even bringing in coffee and doughnuts and thanking everyone for their help can go a long way towards camaraderie throughout the team.
9. No responsibility or accountability.
If you don’t own your mistakes or failures as part of the team but instead use every excuse in the book, then you are not helping your team at all. Further, you can be sure the team will follow suit, acting in the same manner that you are. Those mistakes or failures need to be fixed and may be costing the entire team. Instead, you will gain respect with your team and your boss if you are accountable and take responsibility for fixing any problem you created.
10. No goal setting or self-evaluation process.
Don’t rely on team goals and assume everyone else is taking care of those for you. You also need to set your own goals as part of a team that will help you achieve the tasks and responsibilities you’ve been assigned. If you don’t have personal goals toward the project then you are essentially telling the team that you are not interested in reaching the overall goals and are not concerned about progress.
Rather than not being a team player in this area, consider discussing your own personal goals on the project with the team. Then ask for and hear their goals, as well as watch for how they all match up with the whole team’s goals. Finally, continue to check your progress and discuss with the team how you might help each other. Don't be afraid to ask for help from someone else on the team, or ask to trade on a task you think they may be better about fulfilling.
Every behavior listed here that is not about being a team player can be turned into an action that helps the team while still assisting you in your own professional goals. Look outward and consider the feelings of others on the team and recognize that they want to accomplish the same things. Helping each other will produce more for everyone and create that mutually beneficial end result.