Almost every job advertisement has “teamwork” in the list of requirements. In almost every CV you can spot “teamwork” as one of its owner’s key skills. Is teamwork becoming new literacy? I guess so. But what actually makes you a good team player? I have many years of experience working as a member of Agile teams. I have learnt a lot about what being a team player actually means.  In this post I have listed the features that I think are essential if you want not only to claim you are a team player, but more importantly, become a successful member of a team.  

What is teamwork?

According to BusinessDictionary.com teamwork is: ”the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal.” 

I do not believe this to be a full definition of teamwork. Do not get me wrong: I am not saying it is untrue. I just think that there is more to it. I will stick to my previous example: literacy. Almost everyone can read and write nowadays. I believe that teamwork works in the same way.

Must-have features to master teamwork

Adapting one of the popular project management methodologies is no guaranty of success. The method is very important, but people and what they are like are as important.  Here are the features that I believe are crucial for every team player:

  • Communicative. Communication is the fundament of any team. Communication may come in many forms, from simple transferring information and sharing knowledge to casual chatting and small talk. Exchanging thoughts, ideas, knowledge and experience can boost a team’s efficiency and the quality of teamwork.
  • Respectful and Supportive. “A chain is as strong as its weakest link.” Similarly, every team is as strong as its weakest member. It is essential to help each other in the team, to support each other and to respect other team members. Otherwise the team members may be more focused on solving their own problems or, even worse, fighting each other rather than achieving a common goal.
  • Open and willing to share. The biggest advantage every team has over a group of individuals is that its members have easier access to cumulative knowledge. I know many people who have astonishing knowledge on a subject that their teams are working on. Unfortunately, many of them do not feel the need to share their knowledge with other team members unless directly instructed by their supervisors.
  • Committed. It is hard to work with other people in one team – and it is even harder if some of them do not share the same desire to reach your common goal. If everyone head in the same direction and is motivated to reach the destination – there aren’t many things that can stop you from achieving your team’s aim.
  • Reliable. If in a team there are people who cannot be counted on as regards e.g. doing their tasks on time, the team will not work properly. Of course this also requires trust that can be built over time and common working experience.

Anything else?

Here are some extra features that I consider very helpful, but not necessary a “must have”:

  • Having a good sense of humour. It may seem trivial, but having a person that can make everyone laugh in a stress situation cannot be underrated. A good joke has a magic power of relieving tension and clearing the air. A friendly atmosphere in the workplace helps build team spirit.
  • Flexible and adaptive. Teams often deal with changing conditions – and often bring about changes themselves. Good team players roll with the punches and adapt to changing situations. Sometimes, if the situation requires so, they accept changes despite their personal preferences. Masters of teamwork don’t complain about changes that are good for the whole team, but may not be the most desired ones for its members.
  • Doing more than asked. While getting the work done and doing your fair share is expected of a good team players, real masters of teamwork will step outs of their comfort zones and come up with creative ideas. This also applies to taking on more responsibilities and extra initiative and allows the whole team to strive for perfection.

So, are you a master of teamwork?

So how many of the above-mentioned qualities do you find in yourself? Which are you missing? Don’t worry – practice makes perfect. Maybe you would like to add something? Or share your insights? Give a comment bellow!

Coach, mentor and Team Leader. Certified .NET developer, Agile enthusiast and Machine Learning specialist. In his free time ̶ avid scuba diver and fantasy books reader.