5 Ways to Be a Better Team Player

Being someone to rely on is becoming more critical as more workers return to the office.

Working with others is a staple of modern work life. Employees spend 80% of their workday collaborating with coworkers, according to studies, underscoring the vital importance of teamwork skills. While remote work put in-person teamwork on the back burner for a while, the increasing prevalence of return-to-office mandates means it might be time for a refresher course or, for some young employees, new lessons in being a good team player.  “It isn’t easy to manage, building and sustaining great teams, or being a great team member, but the results are worth it,” says Val Olson, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.

Being a better team player at work involves combining interpersonal skills, communication, collaboration, and a positive attitude. Team members who work well together increase both productivity and the chances of success. Experts say there are a few key steps employees can take to brush up on and improve collaboration skills.

Define roles and goals.

Having a clear vision of a project’s end goal and how each member will contribute is a pivotal way to start a team project. Identify each member’s strengths and play to those. “There must be acceptance of responsibility for abiding by structures and processes that are clearly understood,” adds Olson. Clearly delineating each member’s role on a project can help keep everyone on track.

Be open-minded.

More people usually means more opinions, which can sometimes be overwhelming. But it’s important to remain open-minded to teammates’ ideas and suggestions, even if they differ from your own. Various studies show that diverse perspectives and ideas can improve innovation by 30%. “The character or personality of the individuals in a group plays a big role in getting good results via teamwork,” adds Olson.

Help during challenges and celebrate achievements.

Mistakes are inevitable, but pointing fingers doesn’t do anyone any good. Being a team player means accepting collective responsibility for individual errors within the team. Good team players also highlight fellow members’ accomplishments. Experts say this support goes a long way in establishing trust within a team. “Trust is essential for results-focused teamwork and the enjoyment of working together,” adds Olson. Take a few moments to celebrate everyone’s contributions to a project.

Think about the Big Picture.

While it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day project tasks, keeping greater goals front of mind is essential for productivity. Experts say teams should prioritize client satisfaction at every step of a project, whether the client is a customer or some internal stakeholder. “Keep your team’s focus and your own on how to provide value to the customer and accomplish the mission,” says Tiffinee Swanson, a career coach at  Korn Ferry Advance.

Check in routinely.

Timely communication is necessary in general in the workplace: regular check-ins with teammates keep a project running smoothly and improve worker engagement. Routinely touching base with partners establishes an environment where every team member can contribute their insights on the project's progress so no one's input is undervalued. “Encourage open discussion and invite questions to ensure team alignment and commitment,” says Frances Weir, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.


For more expert career advice, connect with a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance