Most modern work environments look for people who can work effectively as a member of a larger team. This ability has become more valuable with shorter product lifecycles and the push for continuous innovation, which necessitates a motivated, coordinated team. However, teams require some understanding of group dynamics. The following tips can help you become a better team member, as well as a team leader:
1. Teams work best when their members approach tasks systematically. Some people believe that creativity comes from chaos, but this does not hold true in the workplace. The most effective teams have an almost scientific method of problem solving. All members share what they already know about a specific problem, then they analyze alternatives until they reach a consensus about how to proceed. Reflection is another important part of this process. Through reflection, teams can learn from their mistakes and move forward rather than get stuck in unproductive cycles.
2. Realize that everyone in the team has a different background and a different understanding of a given problem. Good team members know how to ask genuine questions to gain new knowledge from colleagues. When people continue to share their knowledge without listening to others, they learn nothing. Groups can quickly be dominated by the most aggressive personalities. Be sure that you provide space for everyone to share and offer suggestions. Again, a systematic approach works well: go around the room one by one to give everyone a voice.
3. Stop thinking of failure as something negative. Failure can prove paralyzing for professional teams. No one wants to be responsible for a failure, so people avoid offering their ideas and insights. This type of atmosphere is not conducive to innovation, which exists only through a team’s willingness to take chances. Instead of looking at failure as a waste of time or effort, the best team members value failure as a great learning experience. Teams operate best when they think about learning and advancing instead of success and failure.