While your individual skills, technical talent and experience are all important, how can you make yourself invaluable in your (new) organization by being an exceptional team player?

If you can fit seamlessly into an existing team and work in harmony with other employees to get jobs done fast and efficiently, your employer will be glad they hired you.

During the hiring process, an employer may use group tests to reveal how potential employees interact with each other. They will be looking to determine how people:

  • influence others
  • persuade others
  • express themselves verbally to others
  • handle their thought processes under pressure
  • apply themselves to a problem
  • solve problems

Many successful team players already have a history of working well in teams of people with diverse backgrounds and interests. If you have already been a member of a sports team, or volunteered for a not-for-profit organization, you may have built up interpersonal skills and possess tolerance that translates well in the workplace. For this reason, it's valuable to utilize the skills you’ve gained in all areas of your life.

Some attributes of a team player include:

  • being an active listener
  • the ability to constructively and calmly discuss issues and approaches and, when needed, disagree without being disagreeable
  • knowing how to give honest feedback and contributions
  • being immune to 'group think' and not just agreeing to keep others happy
  • taking negative or constructive feedback without becoming defensive or withdrawing from the discussion
  • being confident without being arrogant

If you don’t already have all of these characteristics, or feel you are weak in a particular area, it might be worth doing some self-reflection and thinking about how you can change your behavior. Understand your personality type and ‘social style’ so you learn how to work more effectively with people. Being a valued team player will serve you well your entire career, so the earlier you can cultivate these characteristics, the better.

360-degree appraisal

If employed, one way to assess whether you're a team player is to go through a 360-degree appraisal, also known as peer review or multi-source feedback. To conduct this appraisal, an employer would gather constructive comments about you from a number of your fellow team members, managers and others you work with directly.

The employer would ask your colleagues to rate you on qualities such as:

  • leadership
  • team work/management
  • self-management
  • communication
  • vision
  • organizational skills
  • decision-making ability
  • drive
  • adaptability

This type of appraisal provides great insight into how well you interact and work with others, giving you the opportunity to address any gaps in your team player skill set.

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