There is no 'I' in 'team player'

August 13, 2017

There is no 'I' in 'team player'

Have you ever read a recruitment ad searching for someone who will 'roll up their sleeves', 'get their hands dirty', or be a 'team player'? 

Being a team player means to demonstrably show that you are aware and care about your colleagues and their needs, and about how your actions (or lack of) impact the people around you.  

The wisest agencies realise that there is a delicate balance between attitudes of management, attitudes of employees, and fostering a positive 'team' culture. It's extremely difficult for a well-meaning person to be a team player if management does not create an environment in which they can be a team player. Conversely, even the most team-friendly workplace will not benefit if the attitude of an individual employee is 'self-' rather than 'team'-focused. 

 

Why is being a 'team player' important? 

Doing what you were hired to do (even if you are an account management rock star) is only half of the equation. Competence will win you kudos with your client, but you also need to ingratiate yourself with your wider team, and that means making a contribution in addition to your day-to-day work.

Your colleagues need to see that you are a team player, as that will show that you truly care about them and their work. Winning the support of your colleagues is essential to the smooth flow of your projects and campaigns.   

Management needs to see that you are a team player to prove that you genuinely care about your work and are willing to do whatever it takes to make the agency and wider team successful. On top of that, your commitment to your agency will be a crucial consideration when management decides on salary increases or promotions. 

 

Ways to be a team player 

The first thing to do is to start working for the common good. That means leaving any trace of self-centredness, over-inflated ego, and 'what’s in it for me?' at the door, and pitching in to help your agency achieve success – even if the kudos may go to someone else. 

As a manager

If you are a manager, then you should do what you can to help nurture a 'team-friendly' workplace, which means allowing your direct reports to work without being micro-managed or having their opinions and creativity stifled. They need to feel that they can contribute ideas freely and that those ideas will be seriously considered and discussed – even if they are unusual or challenge the norm. All this, seasoned with a work environment of sound business practices and systems, loads of encouragement and support, and lashings of Friday-beer will go a long way toward creating the ideal 'team' environment.

As an employee 

Here are a few ways to show your 'team player-ness': 

  • Take part in agency social events (e.g. social club activities, Christmas parties, awards evenings, client functions, sports teams, etc). Your colleagues may interpret an ongoing rejection of social events as rejecting them personally, so your inclusion is crucial. Managers, if you are not offering your team some form of social activity (even if it's just wine and nibbles on a Friday afternoon), it's a good idea to start now. 
  • Show flexibility with your hours. If there is a lot of work on, it’s a good look to show a willingness to work some overtime – especially when your workmates are working back, or the deadlines are tight. You should also keep in mind that if you expect your creative team to stay at work until a project is complete, then it’s a good idea to lead by example and stay late with your team, helping out wherever you can. 
  • Actively and enthusiastically contribute to brainstorming sessions and team meetings. 
  • Make an effort to get on well with everyone in your agency - even if they are not part of your immediate team. 
  • Smile. 
  • Be positive. Negative people bring a team down faster than anything. 
  • Be someone whom your workmates can rely on; do what you say you will do. 
  • Pitch in to help, even if that means doing something that is not usually 'your job'. 
  • Be flexible and roll with the punches. So things change? Excellent! Focus on the opportunities rather than the inconveniences. 
  • Be a problem-solver rather than a grumbler. 
  • Let your boss know that you are committed to seeing the company succeed, and then show commitment through your actions. 
  • Get involved (special projects or events, think tanks, internal committees, etc). 
  • Mentor junior staff members. 
  • Share your successes and achievements with your whole team. 
  • Give credit where it's due. 
  • Become a subject expert whom your colleagues can go to for advice. 
  • Help with a colleague's project to ensure it meets their deadline. 
  • Do the practical as well as the strategic work. 
  • Be secure in yourself and unselfish with your knowledge, time, skills, and advice. 
  • Go above and beyond your job description. 
  • Do things you perceive to be 'below' your job description if it's for the greater good for your agency or going to help your team. 
  • Look outside of yourself and your own work to see what's going on around you. 
  • Adopt a ‘whatever it takes’ mindset. 

Making the effort to be a team player should be something you continuously work towards. Keep the following 'agency circle of life' in mind as you go about your work: 

If you work hard for the common good of your agency --->  your agency succeeds --->  your agency makes money ---> you keep your job ---> you contribute to a happy, productive environment ---> your team is happy ---> the positive agency culture makes you want to work hard for the common good of your agency…and so on, around it goes. 

  

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