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5 Ways to Be a Better Teammate at Work

Whether you like it or not you are part of a team. Even entrepreneurs work with teams of people that require a certain level of teamwork. 

You can argue the value of working together on group projects.

You can dislike the team members you’re working with.

Or you can extoll the benefits and importance of teamwork, like the fact that people who work on a team are twice as likely to be engaged at work according to a global study done by the ADP Research Institute.

The teams I work as a sports broadcaster don’t question the value of teamwork because it’s a requirement. Teamwork isn’t a buzz word in sports. It’s not a cliché. Being a good teammate isn’t category on yearly performance review, it’s on display for athletes every single day.

Which means… watching sports can provide insight on how to be a better teammate. Sports is more than stats and scores.

Watching sports with a critical eye reinforces what teamwork actually is and can give you a framework for becoming a better teammate.

 Become a Better Teammate By Watching Sports

  1. Communicate consistently. Athletes and coaches don’t save up for a big conversation at the end of the game. They communicate consistently throughout. Those conversations allow teammates to make adjustments, identify issues, and problem solve in the moment. If you don’t have an open line of communication with your colleagues, you prevent the team from having the conversations that could mean the difference between success and failure.
  2. Don’t beat around the bush. “It would be nice if…” “Do you think you could get around to doing…” “What would you think about…” are not phrases you hear in huddles on the sidelines because time is in short supply and results are expected. Be direct in your asks or your feedback to eliminate confusion and unnecessary follow up conversations.
  3. Accept coaching. Feedback delivered on the sidelines or during time outs is not up for debate. It doesn’t matter if the athlete agrees in that moment (and sometimes they don’t) the issue at hand is the team outcome. The coaching that takes place during games in non-negotiable. There’s a time and place for arguing, debating or pushing back but it’s not during a game or when you have to get results. Know when to accept coaching for the good of the team and save the arguing for another time.
  4. Regroup regularly. Timeouts, 2-minute warnings, halftimes are opportunities for athletes to catch their breath but they’re also built-in opportunities to regroup and identifying changes that need to happen. Be deliberate and intentional about reconvening with your team so you don’t get to the end of a project or the final hours before the deadline and realize you’re not even close to being on the same page.
  5. Do your job. Being a great teammate means doing YOUR job. Ever hear an athlete say, “We were just trying to do too much?” That’s a polite way of saying someone wasn’t doing their job. Offering assistance and expertise is different than trying to take over a situation that you weren’t asked to control. Do your job. Stay in your lane. That’s how the best teams operate.

Talking about teamwork isn’t nearly as effective as taking steps to become a better team. And if you’re tempted to hold off and wait until you’re on a better team, or working with higher caliber people, or bigger clients, or making more money, or whatever excuse you’re making remember this: Athletes also practice like they plan to play. You can’t expect to handle the big moments if you lack practice habits in the little moments, so start being a better teammate right where you are today.



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