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How to Contribute to Effective Teamwork

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When working, you are usually part of several teams. Your organization is a team, as are the workers in your department and on your work shift. In addition, teams may be formed to handle a specific, short-term project. An employee is often judged on his ability to work within a team concept. Building and keeping a good team is essential to the success of the organization and makes your own job easier.

Choose your team members, or get acquainted with your assigned team. This shouldn't take long, especially if you already know the other members.

Notice the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Ideally, you want to assign responsibilities to best utilize your co-workers' strengths.

Select a leader. This may not be right away, and in many team situations the leaders will make themselves apparent.

Volunteers hugging in huddle

Determine your team's goals. Make sure all members are aware of these goals.

Divide the work evenly among your team members.

Include all team members in the planning process. This way, no one feels left out and all members have a stake in the project. The more active the team is in developing the goals and work processes, the more the individuals will dedicate themselves toward the team's success.

Let the team know right away if you are assigned a task that you know you cannot handle. Offer to do something else that is within your skill set.

Cover your team members' backs on the job, and make sure no one feels he's getting all the blame or dirty work.

Keep one another up to date on all task-related progress. Share all important information with the team as soon as possible.

Be willing to do all phases of the work that you can. While teamwork does allow for some specialization, the team member who can do some of everything will be more valuable.

Keep a leash on workers who try to take over or act too much outside the group's bounds.

Be honest when you have a concern or idea, and listen when other team members have ideas.

Tip

If you must have meetings, consider doing them standing up. They'll go faster, freeing you to do actual work.

Ignore the loudest team members when selecting leaders. Often, the best leader is the quiet worker who is willing to do everything.

Warning

While camaraderie is helpful, many old-school team-building methods such as after-work get-togethers are overrated. In fact, some off-the-job activities may do more harm to the team than good.

Although it is good to have a superstar or two, they need special handling. A superstar can easily undermine a team's efforts; bloated egos can do much more harm than good.

References

About the Author

Al Bondigas is an award-winning newspaperman who started writing professionally in 1985. His print credits include the "Mohave Valley Daily News" and "The Mohave County Standard." Bondigas studied journalism at San Bernardino Valley College in California.