When I decided to start my business more than 10 years ago, I wasn’t entirely sure where it would take me. But I knew who I wanted to join me on the journey.
Lynn Mandinec was my first friend at my first job out of college. We started our careers simultaneously; I was in entry-level sales, and Lynn was an account manager. Our lives and career paths have included plenty of exciting twists and turns, but our friendship persevered. To this day, I am grateful she decided to be employee No. 1. She makes the business better — and that is reflected on the bottom line.
That is the value of teamwork. And it’s never been more important.
According to the data, time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more. The proportion hovers around 80% at many companies, and this trend is only likely to continue.
Teamwork indeed makes the dream work. The most worthwhile things I have ever achieved haven’t been solo ventures. I was part of a very good team, and I find that the shared experiences are a whole lot more meaningful and fulfilling.
So, what makes a good teammate? Here are 10 keys from my own Lynn-inspired list with plenty of science to lend support.
Great teammates decide how they show up, and they tend to be optimistic and full of positive energy. They are deeply invested in their organization’s vision of the future and own their part in making that future happen.
Having a good sense of emotional intelligence in the workplace ensures a comfortable and productive environment for everyone. When someone can regulate their emotional states and show empathy towards their teammates, they report higher job satisfaction and perform better at what they do. Who wouldn’t want to work with someone who is aware of both their own needs and the needs of the team?
Great teammates are competent in their roles, and they take full ownership of their area of responsibility by making it better. This makes collaboration easier for everyone else. It also fuels the growth of the business.
When you own your work, you’re able to give more to the team. In a 2015 study on behavior in the workplace, researchers found that when individuals have ownership over their work, they’re significantly more generous with their time and resources.
Obsessed with Customer Experience
Customer expectations are evolving rapidly, and meeting customers where they are is a key differentiator for any business. In a competitive environment, how you interact with customers and meet their needs can be the deciding factor for a customer between your company and a competitor. In fact, 86% of buyers will pay more for better customer service.
Personalization, customization, sense of urgency and trust in vendors is what consumers want, and a great teammate knows when to go above and beyond. Great teammates set the tone for everyone’s behavior and standards of service. Their dedication to providing excellent customer experience is contagious.
Business is a competitive sport. The drive to win deals and outperform the competition is essential to the success of any sales team. I’m naturally a competitive guy, so it’s important that the people on my team match my intensity.
Great teammates want to win. They are dedicated to common goals and to doing what it takes to achieve them. Competition is also one of the primary driving factors of a productive work environment, with 67% of workers saying that it’s a strong motivator for them to give it their all and win. If you want to win, you have to hunger for the challenge of competition that brings out the best in us. And you need to surround yourself with others who feel the same.
Generously Shares Credit
Good teammates don’t care who gets credit for a win — they just want the best for the team, and they are genuinely happy for other people’s success.
Science agrees: Recognizing and celebrating your team members’ accomplishments improves a team’s productivity. In one TINYpulse Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report, participants reported that having the respect of their peers was the No. 1 reason they go the extra mile at work.
The last year has demonstrated how important it is to have creative problem-solvers in your company. Organizations across the globe have had to overhaul the way they provide services, collaborate as a team and grow their companies. In an environment like that, you want teammates who are curious and open to innovative ideas.
Great teammates stay in the learning lane. They are willing to test, experiment and get better in every facet of their life. They own problems and solve them in creative and effective ways. They are dedicated to continuous learning and creative problem-solving, which sets up their organizations for resiliency during uncertainty and disruption.
One of the most valuable traits in a teammate is someone you can trust. That means having high integrity and being willing to weigh in, challenge the status quo and offer constructive feedback. When they call it like they see it, you know their feedback is meant to push you and your company to reach maximum potential.
According to David Horsager of Trust Edge Leadership Institute, “a lack of trust is the biggest expense in organizations.” He says that trust is the core that holds together a company’s day-to-day operations, and when things start to break down, no matter the department or the type of issue it is, a lack of trust is always the common denominator.
Everyone wants to align and work with people who have their back.
The best teammates want to be challenged. To be coachable is to have the mental mindset to receive constructive feedback and turn it into an opportunity for growth. But not all feedback is equal or effective. In fact, only 14.5% of managers strongly agree that they are effective in providing feedback, according to a 2018 Gallup survey. Effective team members not only can sort through the feedback they receive to make high-impact changes, but they also can provide effective feedback to their teammates.
A great teammate gives and receives feedback regularly. They listen to the feedback and find ways to make meaningful improvements because they always want to grow and get better. And when the feedback is negative, they are highly self-aware and don’t take things personally.
Knows When to Disagree and Commit
The best teammates aren’t afraid of a little healthy conflict and tend to be forthcoming about their opinions. When you encounter challenges and tough decisions, it’s always great when someone weighs in and brings thoughtful arguments to the table.
You won’t always agree, and sometimes you can encounter a problem with no clear winning solution. In those cases where you have to make a tough choice, a great teammate always commits to what we decide, even if it’s not the route they would have chosen. Alignment to the team’s direction helps keep everyone on track and ensures that you remain unified when faced with complicated situations.
Work hard and have a blast doing it! That works for me. When someone is a team player on every front, they make working together fun and engaging every step of the way.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Especially today.
If you want to be successful, surround yourself with people who exemplify these traits. More importantly, strive to be that kind of person. Most organizations need more good teammates, especially as the world becomes more connected, collaborative and competitive.
As a team member at any level, I invite you to consider this formative question: How do I want to be remembered by the people I work with?
The answer is important. Reflect. Write it down. Let this be your guide for how you show up and what kind of contribution you intend to make.
Read more: How to Think When a Teammate Cancels a Commitment with You
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