Sunday, September 21, 2014

5 ways to be a great teammate

I’m approaching this school year with several goals. One of those goals is to be a better teammate to those with whom I work. I have the luxury of working with folks in all different capacities in my district which means my interactions are varied and our role-relationships are constantly evolving and changing. Having said that, this unique situation for me doesn’t diminish the importance of being a great teammate to everyone with whom I work. Here are five ways I hope to be a better teammate this year:

Give praise, but make sure you are genuine:

We all know that teammate who seems to be full of compliments and kind words. This same teammate always has something nice to say and always showers others with words of praise. We all feel good when being praised and we all enjoy being recognized for our work, but like all good things, praise is best served in moderation. Don’t shy away from giving praise, but do make sure that it’s genuine and warranted, because if it’s not it will come off insincere and will actually negate any positive effect.

Dish out challenges, but make sure you are supportive:

The best colleagues I’ve worked with have always challenged me. They’ve pushed me and they’ve made me a better educator and I honestly believe a better person. They’ve challenged me to do things I didn’t think were possible and things I didn’t think I would ever be able to accomplish. They helped to paint a picture of what could be rather than continuing with what is. The important key here with these colleagues has been their support and encouragement that followed the challenge and the push. It’s because of that support I knew I could push myself and reach beyond my level of comfort. Be that type of colleague on your team. Be the type of teammate who pushes and challenges but stands right there with you when the going gets tough.

Be quick to question, but make sure you are respectful:

Far too often we find ourselves with a team full of ‘yes’ people. We’ve become scared to ask questions and more often than not we choose harmony over a situation that could have some type of disagreement. The teams that function best are the teams that have people who aren’t afraid to ask questions. It’s the people who ask the hard questions when nobody else will who help to move an idea or an initiative forward. The key to asking these hard questions is to do so respectfully and appropriately. At times this means asking a question in private and not in front of the group. Other times, it means presenting a possible solution with the question. Either way, a team that has artificial harmony because people are afraid to ask questions will never reach a high level of effectiveness.

Be sure to speak your mind, but make sure you listen first:

It’s Ok to have an opinion. In fact, I think it’s preferred over not having an opinion. But, be sure that before you voice your opinion to take the time to actually listen. Human nature is to start formulating a response while the other person is still talking which disengages us from actually paying attention to what the other person is saying. Do your best to give your teammates your undivided attention and then feel free respond, but whatever you do, be sure to completely listen first. Also, keep in mind that if you’re never speaking your mind, then what value are you adding to the team? Be an active participate, not a passive bystander.

Be the first and the last on the scene:

Be the type of teammate who is first on the scene and the last to leave. It’s easy to talk about doing something, but the best teammates I’ve worked with didn’t just talk about it, they actually did it. They also were there in the end to make sure everything was done right. Be the teammate that people can count on and rely on. Be the type of teammate who leads by example. Be the type of teammate who is there for others when others aren’t. This is going to be your year… this is going to be your team’s year… so good luck!