10 ways you can become a star team player at work

Want to stand out at work and be loved by your colleagues? Discover 10 ways you can become a star team player.

It can be tempting to focus just on your personal career development at work. To seek out tasks that will showcase your skills and put you in the fast track for promotion.

But while it’s certainly important to be aware of your own career progression, it’s just as essential to ensure you’re a great team player.

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Selfish people stick out like a sore thumb in a team. They’re unpopular with their colleagues and can quickly gain a reputation within their team and their managers as someone not to be trusted. Someone who won’t pull out all the stops to ensure the team succeeds if it’s not in their own best interest.

10 ways you can become a star team player at work

So if you want to stand out at work for the right reasons (and enjoy working in a successful motivated team of people who like you) you need to be a great team player. Here are 10 ways you can do just that.

1) Be responsible

The success of the entire team depends on the responsibility of each and every member to play their part. So if tasks or goals are assigned to you, ensure you meet the expectations required of you.

And if for any reason you realise you won’t be able to meet a deadline, or don’t have the time, skills or resources to complete a task, make sure you let the appropriate person know in good time.

2) Be a confident communicator

Teams can’t function at their best if there’s poor communication. So make sure you can communicate with confidence to your managers, colleagues, team members and clients.

A great communicator is able to convey theirs and others’ needs, to to delegate well, to minimise the impact when delivering bad news, and to be able to negotiate effectively so that all parties are happy.

If your skills need some brushing up, you’ll find some helpful tips in these articles:

3) Be flexible

Being able to stick to a goal or task is an important team attribute. But being flexible and agile when required is just as essential.

For example, you may need to switch projects at the last minute, to quickly pick up new skills, or to move onto a different team at short notice.

A stand out team player will do what’s asked of them with good grace, and willingly throw themselves into being the best they can at the job at hand – whatever that may be.

4) Keep your promises

If you say you’ll do something, make sure you get it done. Great team players are reliable – everyone knows if you promise something, you’ll deliver.

So be consistent in maintaining your reliability. You only need to drop the ball twice and renege on a promise made to develop a reputation of someone you can’t rely on.

5) Listen to people

Great team players don’t just pay lip service to you – they really listen. They practise a much-valued skill called active listening.

When someone listens properly to the people around them, they don’t make incorrect assumptions about what they need to do – they genuinely understand what is expected of them (and if they don’t understand, they ask).

This means they’re a trusted pair of hands. You know if you ask a good listener to do something, they’ll complete the task you have asked for, when you wanted it.

A good listener is also popular with their team, making their colleagues feel listened-to and important.

6) Be honest

If you’re asked for your opinion, be honest but diplomatic. It’s not helpful to anyone to tell someone their work is up to scratch if it’s substandard. Not only are you lowering standards, but you’re not giving your colleague the opportunity to learn and improve.

Likewise, if your manager shares a strategy with you that you ‘re confident won’t work and asks what you think of it (and genuinely wants to know), tell them.

But, while honesty is important, there are times that it’s not appropriate. And you should always be diplomatic and respectful. Judge each situation on its merits and make a call on the wisest way to respond. (If you work for a toxic boss or with toxic colleagues you’ll need to be careful about being too honest!)

7) Be respectful and supportive

It’s hard to be a good team player if you don’t respect and support your colleagues and managers. You may not always like or agree with them, but that’s fine. Remember, these are work colleagues, not friends. But as long as you can find some common, respectful ground, you can work well with them.

If you genuinely find it difficult to respect and support your team members, to the point that even faking it feels just that – fake – it may be time to look for a new job.

8) Be solution-focused

What do you do when faced with a problem at work? Get stressed and moan to colleagues? Sit and stare into space, hoping for inspiration to strike? Give up? Or do you proactively look for ways to solve it?

You don’t have to have the answers to every question or problem to be a great team player – you just need to be focused on finding them.

9) Be helpful

Notice a colleague struggling with something? Ask if they need a helping hand. Discover a new technique or piece of information that will help a team member? Share it with them.

Popular team players aren’t simply the people who are brilliant at their own job. They’re the ones that help everyone be brilliant too. Who get as much satisfaction from their colleagues succeeding as they do themselves. After all, you’re a team.

10) Be generous

And finally, if you achieve a win, don’t keep it to yourself – share it with your team. The chances are their work had an impact in or enabled your success at some level too.

And even if it didn’t, you are part of a team and your achievement reflects on the performance of your group as a whole.

You may feel justified in keeping the glory and spoils of your success to yourself, but in the long term the more generous you are in your praise and sharing of glory, the more popular you’ll be with your team – and the greater your team’s morale will be.

Hannah Ervin is a motivational speaker and a scriptwriter. Currently she is associated with an assignment consultancy firm as content manager.