Friday, February 15, 2013

Are You a Team Oriented Employee?
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by Amin Huffington
Dreamfedjob - Turning unemployed into employed.

Found yourself suddenly assigned to a team? Wondering what that might mean with regard to your role, performance expectations or how your work gets evaluated? All good questions! The definition of a "team" can vary greatly, as does how teams operate, their purpose, even how long they stay together. Provided here is basic information on what teams are and the qualities of effective teams, as well as guidance on how to thrive as a new member of a team.

People don't become a team because someone tells them they are. They must be striving together to attain something. Here's one definition of a team-a small group of people committed to accomplishing a common goal. Teams often operate best if they have a shared set of values. The following list are some attributes of highly successful teams:
  • We are customer focused. Meaning, we are driven to do things that make our service more valuable to the customer, whether internal or external.
  • We trust each other's intentions. Meaning we believe that everyone else on the team is working together to find the best possible solution to each problem or conflict encountered.
  • We are truthful in our communications. Meaning we are open and honest with one another.
  • We are interdependent. Meaning we rely on one another to get the whole job done.
  • We are all accountable. Meaning we each take responsibility for the results of what we do and what the department does.
  • We support one another. Meaning we are committed to helping and encouraging one another to grow professionally.
  • We respect our diversity. Meaning we respect other's on the team who have values and points of view that are different from our own.
  • We have a common purpose. Meaning we are all working towards attaining similar outcomes.
  • We have a shared vision. Meaning we all have a common understanding of what we are trying to accomplish as we move into the future.
  • We are always playing to win. Meaning we are trying to get as far as we can get each day by putting everything we can into our work.
"Team building" is not about spending a day out in the woods, trying to solve various contrived "survival" scenarios. Team building simply refers to the efforts teams make to improve functioning. For example, if there is confusion about the outcomes a team is striving for, inviting a facilitator in to guide a discussion about goal setting might well be a team building activity. Without a "common purpose" it is difficult to work together, and more difficult to succeed.

While there is a great deal you can intuit or "pick up" about how you're supposed to behave as a member of a team, just by close observation, it is often best to check out your assumptions with open, direct discussion. If you're uncertain about performance expectations, ask. Inquire as to whether a "team charter" has been created (as well as whether or not it is followed, and why). Ask your supervisor or team leader how individual performance as well as team success is evaluated.

Remember too, for many people, being part of a team can at first feel uncomfortable. Americans value rugged individualism and personal success. Tying one's professional future to the performance of a team; having one's value assessed according to how one functions as a team member as opposed to an independent employee, can seem like a risky proposition. Some would argue that only with great risk comes the opportunity for great success, and great rewards. There's no denying very successful teams work hard at working well together. If you're not interested in that kind of labor, working in a team environment may not be a good fit for you. However, if you thrive on the support of others, if you problem-solve best by bouncing ideas off someone else, if your creativity is fueled by open debate and dialogue, a team environment might suit you well.

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