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Teamwork 101: 6 Steps to Becoming a Better Team Player

by Khadija Fetuga (’04/’05 Fellow)

1) Accept that conflict is normal and can occur within groups.

Believe it or not, disagreements can help shape the group's norms and identity. Conflict will be easier to deal with if each group member understands that disagreements play a normal and fundamental role in group formation.

2) Be willing to acknowledge good ideas even in the face of competition.

In the face of competition, a team player is willing to admit when a fellow group member has a better or more practical idea than his or her own. Praising each other has a positive effect on the group by improving the probability of the project's success. Remember—when the group looks good, it makes you look good too.

3) Avoid backbiting and complaining about fellow group members.

One of the quickest ways to hurt your own reputation and to disturb group relations is to talk negatively about another group member, particularly behind his or her back. Should a problem develop do your best to solve it with that group member, addressing the issue directly and tactfully, or, if absolutely necessary, consult your supervisor.

4) Use your resources.

When a group is put together for the purpose of completing a particular project, the members may not have all of the expertise needed to perform their tasks sufficiently. Do not be afraid to ask questions and seek advice from those within your organization who can provide the information needed to increase the group's knowledge and effectiveness.

5) Delegate according to your strengths.

It would be a waste to ask the most talented researcher to do the organizing and the most talented organizer to do the researching. By first assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each group member, you are able to delegate tasks to the members with the strongest skills in that area. Giving assignments according to the interests and strong points of your teammates will increase your chances of success and efficiency.

6) Go the extra mile.

Whether that means staying in the office after 5 p.m., or taking on more responsibility, your team relies on you doing your part and doing it well. Sometimes that means taking on more than you initially expected. Going the extra mile is not only one way to ensure the success of your project, but also an effective way to gain the respect of fellow co-workers.

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