How to be a great teamplayer?

March 9 2013


Remember to be positive, and that criticism is best given constructively and not destructively. Remember to be positive, and that criticism is best given constructively and not destructively.

They say no man is an island, and they are right: While some prefer to work alone, unless you run your own one-man show, the reality is that very few people really work all alone. Whether we like it or not, we all have to work in teams at some point or another in our careers. However, while it’s easy to be in a team, it’s harder to be a good team player who contributes to the plan and communicates with the rest of the team effectively.

Finding Yourself

The best teams have a mix of characters that support each other’s strengths and cover up any chinks in the armour. If you want to be a good team player, find out who you are and dig deeper into what your working style is. Find your strengths! Are you a motivator? Or are you, perhaps, an organiser? Figuring out what you are will help you when you are in a team; you will then be able to say “Hey I’m good at organising and planning, let me do the back end work”, instead of trying to be the frontline and being miserable. When you (and your team members) pinpoint your own individual strengths, it is possible for the whole team to be more efficient and produce brilliant results.

According to Belbin’s Team Role Theory, which researched over 200 teams conducting management business games, there are nine team types. Most people will have a mix of these roles, with dominant and sub-dominant roles factored in to make each person’s “team character” unique in the group.

Coordinator – Dominant, accepting and commited to team goals and objectives, the Coordinator is people-oriented and a leader. The Coordinator is generally positive and approves of goal attainment, while appreciating the struggle and efforts of others. However, the Coordinator may not stand out in the group, and isn’t known for being the smartest nor the most intellectual.

Shaper – All nervous energy and motivation, the Shaper is a goal-oriented leader who will “shape” the other team members, if necessary, to achieve the team goal. The Shaper, while great at meeting goals, may display aggressive behaviour while trying to pursue said goals. More than one Shaper in a team may lead to conflict.

Plant – The Plant is usually a specialist and an idea-generator. Original and dominant, the Plant may take drastic approaches to problems and functions of the team and are generally more “big-picture” people, as opposed to detailed characters. Their focus on the big picture may result in a neglect of practical details.

Resource Investigator – Sociable, good at liaison work and exploring external resources, the Resource Investigator can hardly be found at his own desk, and if he is, he is networking via telephone/email. The Resource Investigators are fantastic negotiators and information-collectors, and can provide excellent support and idea-development. However, they rarely generate their own original ideas, and have a tendency of losing interest in the project after the initial buzz wears off.

Company Worker/ Implementer – Practical, calm and conscientious, Implementers are the responsible, down to earth ones in the team. They tend to be focused and tough-minded, which is why many Implementers are found in positions of responsibility. Their tolerant nature also helps them take up the tasks that others don’t want to do, like disciplining employees; however, they tend to also be inflexible and slow to open up to new ideas.

Monitor Evaluator – Intelligent and prudent, Monitor Evaluators aren’t driven by a need to achieve. They are essential in teams, especially at crunch time when decisions need to be made, because they don’t get swayed by emotions and can evaluate calmly and rationally. Their dry, sometimes critical nature makes them uninspiring leaders sometimes, but they still get far ahead in their careers due to their decision-making abilities.

Team Worker – In a group of strong personalities and opinions, the Team Worker is essential to keep the peace. The Team Worker intervenes with humour and diplomacy when tempers flare, and is good at motivating the others when spirits are low. They tend to excel at listening, sociability and coping with socially awkward people, which will contribute directly to better communication and a more efficient team.

Team Workers are less reliable in times of crisis when decisions need to be made, as their reluctance to hurt other people’s feelings can make them indecisive.

Completer Finisher – The Completer Finisher is the detail-oriented one, who adds the details to the Plant’s grand ideas. Steady and consistent, they are less interested in success-accompanying glamour and are instead focused on making sure every detail is perfect. They tend to be over-anxious and have difficulty delegating work, but can be relied on to close loopholes and prepare for emergencies.

Specialist – The Specialist provides in-depth knowledge and technical ability that cannot be found in others. However, he can be highly introverted and may need the Team Worker to bring him out of his shell. The Specialist is also self-starting, committed and dedicated to his tasks; however, this single-mindedness can bring about a lack of interest in the other members’ tasks, leading to miscommunications.

Figuring out what personality mix you are will go far in helping you be a good team player, as you will be able to communicate what type of area you would be best placed in.


Speaking of communication, good communication between team members is more than vital and helps keep the team focused on the goal while minimising the chances of getting sidetracked by misunderstandings. Sharing ideas, speaking up when you spot a potential problem or design flaw, congratulating others on a job well done – all of these fall under communication. Remember to be positive, and that criticism is best given constructively and not destructively.

Flexibility and Reliability

Things change all the time: Budgets can increase or be cut in half, venues may suddenly become unavailable, the boss may have an idea that redefines the ultimate project goal. This is why flexibility is prized in teams! Successful people roll with the punches and learn from the changes. Comfort zones, while undoubtedly secure and safe, are also restrictive and can compromise your learning curve. Grow onwards and upwards!

Reliability is also important: There’s not much point in promising the moon and stars if you cannot even get off the ground. Team players make sure that their team members know that they can be relied upon no matter if times are good or bad. Stick to deadlines, deliver what you promised, and make sure your quality is consistent, and you could be in the running for the “Most Reliable” title!

Being part of a team can be stressful, frustrating, exhilarating and satisfying (when it’s over and you survey your results), not to mention excellent for your career prospects. This is where you can shine, and this is where fantastic team players get noticed by the bosses, who can then hand-pick members for bigger, more prestigious projects. Work hard in your team, and your efforts will speak for you.

Source: The Star

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