Scan job postings and you will see that a lot of employers are on the lookout for “good team players.” Even employers we have spoken to, have told us that one of their top non-technical skills they look for in employees is the ability to be a team player.
Teams are good for business. Whether they are built around individual project specifications, or exist as an on-going part of company culture, teams take advantage of collective strengths, energy and creativity to achieve more, faster.
Having the capacity to collaborate and to work well within a team is a distinct advantage in finding a job, being successful in your work or in opening up new career opportunities.
What makes someone a good team player?
Well a good place to start is by understanding the team dynamic and thinking about how it might apply to you and to your strengths. Also, important to understand is that being a team player is synonymous with being a good collaborator.
Collaborating means effectively working with someone else (or many people) to produce or create something.
Teams that work well together are generally those that can tap into diverse abilities and skills to increase productivity and drive a project forward.
Now these abilities and skills are not necessarily technical.
While it is important to have a good mix of “who can do what,” there are other, transversal skills that are usually brought to bear that build cohesion, effectiveness, and positive outcomes.
Some team role theory suggests that there are several different “types” of personalities that emerge across the team dynamic. Examples of some of the more common roles individuals take when on a team:
- Coordinators who see the big picture and seek to delegate
- Specialists with specific skills or knowledge
- Shapers who drive momentum
- Implementers who excel at formulating and executing workable strategies
Each of us has a tendency to behave or interact with other people in certain ways and will adopt one or more of the above roles when in a team setting.
Now while it is true that there are some characteristics that are inherent – and that some people are naturally inclined to some behaviors more than others – it is also true that there are certain, more generic skills you can develop that will improve your capacity to work well with others.
When describing your previous experiences in team settings on your resume, LinkedIn, and during interviews – keep the above in mind. It is a way to more descriptively communicate your team experiences to potential employers.
Core Teamwork Skills You Will Want to Develop
Probably at the top of the list is the ability to communicate with other people. Whether it’s face-to-face, virtual, written, spoken, verbal, or non-verbal, you will want to ensure that you are able to get your ideas across to others effectively.
Part of communicating, of course, is also the capacity to listen.
A much underrated skill, listening not only informs you of what others are thinking or doing, but demonstrates that you not only understand but care about other team members. Giving other people free rein to share their thoughts, asking questions for clarification, driving open dialogue – all of this demonstrates that you are a real team player.
Of course, part of communication is also about respect. It is difficult to collaborate with someone who is disrespectful of your ideas. Showing your respect for your teammates can be as simple as actively listening, maintaining eye contact, or using their name.
Conflict management is another core skill that you can develop. When people work together, differences of opinion can hamper productivity if you do not know how to handle the situation. Having the ability to negotiate, to give way, or to seek for solutions that align to the greater good—differentiates great team players from mediocre ones.
It is human nature to want to compete. But it is also human nature to collaborate. Societies are built on collaboration and, at a macro-level, teamwork. Pulling together gives us the best odds of survival.
And the same, unsurprisingly, is true of the world of work.
And when push comes to shove, you are going to need to be reliable. It is all well and good to be a great communicator and negotiator, but if you cannot be relied upon to complete a task on time, you are better off going it alone.
Team spirit is something you are going to want to cultivate, whatever your role, whatever your company.
And if you are looking to make the first step in your career, or hoping to transition to new job, you might want to check that these skills are prominent in your professional profile.
From resume to interview, be sure that your next employer knows you are a team player.