We’ve all heard the cliché that there is no “I” in team, but what does that really mean? Are there good and bad ways to be a part of team? You bet there is. Teams are designed for specific reasons and to work within that team does require getting past yourself.
In order to understand your role as part of a team, it’s important to understand team dynamics. Psychologist Bruce Tuckman created a model for the different stages of high performing teams. He called the stages “forming, storming, norming and performing.” Teams have unique dynamics during each of these phases. Forming, as it indicates, is the “getting to know you” phase. Storming is when the claws come out, along with the hidden agendas. Norming is the time when the team is starting to get down to business. Performing is the team finally getting it done. It’s important to realize that while all groups go through these phases, your contribution as a member of this team may or may not also waver.
Now that you know team dynamics, it’s important to understand your role within the team unit. A team does not operate well when each of its members head off in their own direction. Separate agendas often leads to team failure. Do you know what your special skills are? Hopefully you were asked to be part of the team because you have skills and qualities that would be beneficial to the group, as a whole, in reaching a common goal. Share your particular expertise with the group. Remember, however, you also need to know their areas of expertise so that the entire team can benefit.
Don’t try to overwhelm the group with your brilliance. Do you know everything under the sun or the best way to handle every situation? Keep in mind that no one likes a “know–it-all”. If you try to hog the spotlight, you will end up alienating the group. Not only that, you might miss out on great learning opportunities because the only voice you hear will be your own.
Accept others in the group for their diversity and knowledge. Different viewpoints and backgrounds add to the richness of the experience. It can also be the difference between success and failure for the team.
Remember that each member of a team has something valuable to share; taking the time to embrace your team members will go a long way to ensuring team success.