What makes a good team player?
We all have different ideas of what makes a good team player. Someone’s ideal candidate is another’s nightmare.
The words “good team player” are frequently bandied about leadership and talent management circles, with much talk about cultural fit, especially during the recruitment process. The meaning can vary widely depending on the composition of the rest of the team, the management style of the leader and overall corporate culture. One person’s idea of a good team player, is another’s nightmare. Once the hard skill composition of a team is complementary, hiring managers look for balance on soft skills.
But there do seem to be some over-riding common characteristics of an ideal or at least a good team player, which they look for in most candidates. Some will exhibit some qualities more strongly than others. This is why gender balanced and diverse teams are so important.
What are hiring managers looking for to achieve overall balance?
Here are 10 broad qualities:
1. GOOD LISTENING SKILLS
Attentive listening skills are some of the most important attributes of a successful team player. Being prepared to sit down and really understand what is going on around you is a sure-fire way to integrate and contribute effectively into any team.
2. GIVING RECOGNITION
Giving credit and recognition where it is due is part of creating a collaborative and supportive environment. If any team member is concerned about their ideas being hi-jacked, it can lead to an atmosphere of distrust. It is the nemesis of innovation and disruption and leads to protectionism and stagnation.
3. WORK ETHIC AND FOCUS
An ideal teammate demonstrates a basic commitment and work ethic. This creates a dynamic atmosphere and “can-do” culture, where everyone strives to give their best performance and learn continuously to achieve the best results for the team.
4. GOOD MANNERS
There is no substitute for good manners and no excuse for poor ones. The rude team-mate creates discord, which basic social skills and niceties overcome. Red flags can even be evident in the recruitment process. If a candidate exhibits poor manners at any point, chances are they will re-surface. Some companies even check with receptionists and admin staff how the candidate interacted.
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A good team player can put herself in another’s shoes and understand situations from their standpoint. That doesn’t mean to say they will agree, or their boundaries are blurred, but it facilitates an atmosphere of constructive communication.
A good team player will display integrity and ethical behaviour. Many organisations have been caught out by the “normalisation of deviancy ” as we have seen with the VW, FIFA and financial services scandals, where even illegal activities and solutions become meshed into corporate culture to become acceptable. We have seen the disastrous effect this has on a business or organisation.
7. SENSE OF HUMOUR
A sense of humour is vital to being a good team player. A smile communicates with everyone. Humour when properly employed generates a positive environment and energy.
An ideal team player is reliable. You can count on her to deliver when she says she is going to and communicate when there are problems. There is nothing more damaging to a team than having a member who is unreliable.
Being accountable for performance and decisions is part of making a strong contribution to a team effort. Anyone who passes the buck, can’t confront issues, or makes lame excuses, damages team performance.
A good team player will show commitment to the team. Anyone who is not totally on board, or has diffused agendas or low motivation, sends mixed messages which can impact overall team performance.
What would you add?