Even though you may work remotely from your home office, very few jobs operate in complete isolation. Whether daily meetings around a conference table or less frequent conference calls with people dialing in from around the world, businesses succeed due to the work of the teams within them. Because no one likes to be the weakest link, here are ways you can ensure you’re doing all you can to be an effective team member.
Communication is key, especially if working remotely or from different locations. Conference calls are very convenient but lack opportunities to read facial expressions and other truth-telling social cues. Conference calls also allow people to multitask and work on other projects during the conversation; attendees tend not to give their full attention. Effective team members are fully present and honest in all team conversations. You can hold back the success of the team by filtering your feedback and dividing your focus.
Do As You Say.
Be reliable and consistent. Arrive on time (or early) to meetings and calls. Complete your assignments in time for revisions and feedback before final versions are needed. It’s difficult to hold to a plan together if there’s someone on the team with questionable follow through. Establish a system of accountability so that deadlines are met. Obstacles and challenges may slow down a task; don’t be afraid to ask for help from other team members when needed. The team’s success should be the ultimate goal and trump any one person’s pride.
Life isn’t fair, but teams can be. Divide work evenly so that each team member carries an appropriate amount. As the team succeeds, recognize the work each person contributes and never allow one person’s work be credited to someone else on the team. Even if the entire organization sees one end product from one team, find ways to acknowledge individuals who excel within the group. Demonstrating appreciation for each team member helps create a motivating culture that rewards and retains team members.
Respecting your fellow team members has infinite payoffs and can lead teams towards greater success. When genuine respect exists in the culture of a team, everyone truly listens to one another, honors their ideas, and offers constructive feedback. This results in an environment free of defensiveness and mistrust. Operating with mutual respect for other team members allows you to see the strengths they bring as well as their weaknesses. People who are truly self-aware recognize they have weaknesses of their own. Knowing this, you are able to be more patient with others’ weaknesses and also see how your strengths may complement and cover their weaknesses (and vice versa). Finally, while team members don’t have to be best friends, it’s helpful to remember and respect the personal lives everyone has outside of work. The purpose of the team should be a priority, but life happens to all of us. Sometimes we struggle with juggling the many hats we wear. Respecting a person’s family life and the joys and sorrows it can bring puts projects in perspective. Effective team members are willing to pitch in when a person’s personal life demands more attention.
As much as you may respect and celebrate other team members, at the end of the day, everyone is different. The destination may be the same, but there may be disagreements on how to get there. Conflict within a team is bound to happen. How it is approached and handled can be the life or the death of the team. Just as a person brings different strengths and weaknesses to the team, every person brings a different background, personality, and approach to business. When these differences clash and aren’t managed well, the team’s project can come to a standstill. Turning to team members to gossip and complain about others on the team is another ingredient that spoils the water. When problems are addressed and discussed with the intention of finding a solution and not the drive of placing blame, they can actually provide stepping stones towards more genuine collaboration and greater success.
Whether at work or within a family, team work is not always easy. Recognizing the role you play in making it a positive experience helps you try just a little harder in these areas. If everyone does their part, there’s nothing a team can’t accomplish!