Of all the skills employers are looking for, the ability to work in a team ranks very high. What does being a team player mean? It consists of the following attributes:
- The ability to take a leadership role when called upon.
- The ability to be an effective and supportive contributor to a team even when you are not in charge.
- Doing what is asked to support the team on time and with a high degree of quality
- Having trust in your team mates and being willing to help them perform even when you know you could do the task better
- Willingness to speak up when you see others not doing their work
- Valuing the ideas and opinions of others even when they are different from your own thoughts.
Students often struggle in teams. Are you one of the following students.
- A student who takes over and does most of the work
- A student who is willing to let others do his/her work
- A student who does what is assigned, but contributes very few new ideas to the team.
How can you become a better team member? Here are some things you can do:
- Look at every group project as a way to develop team skills. You need to face the reality that you will probably never have a job where you are not working in a team.
- Develop a reading program that focuses on successful leaders who have built teams. Famous sports coaches (e.g. John Wooden), social leaders (e.g. Martin Luther King), military leaders (e.g. Colin Powell), and business leaders (e.g. Mary Kay Ash).
- Develop a Plus/Delta personal audit for each team experience you have. Plusses represent those things you think you did well while Deltas represent those improvements you want to make for the next team assignment.
- Speak up when the teams you are on are not performing as a team. Typical problem areas include:
- A freeloading student
- Team members dividing up tasks with minimal integration
- Team members afraid to speak up because of a dominating person on the team
- Lack of respect for due dates and the requirements of the project
- Learn how to run team meetings. This is a valuable skill for every major and career path. You will find a lot of guides for this on the internet.
One other thing that you should do is start developing your team stories. You will often be asked in an interview to describe these. Having these committed to memory can be a great aid in the interviewing process..