When you are part of a great team, going to work in the morning feels joyous and exciting. There is a special feeling when your teammates are working towards the same goal as you – you’re able to share in the camaraderie of the journey, as well as the achievements.
Through synergy, good teams are able to create an end result far outweighing what each individual could produce themselves. However, in order to create a successful team, it’s essential that you pick the right members.
Some skill sets and personality types naturally gel well with one another, whereas other combinations will create a truly catastrophic atmosphere in any workplace. Unfortunately, no amount of technical proficiency can make up for a failed team dynamic!
While you’ll want to screen for specific traits based on your industry and company culture, if you can find a team member who has a handful (or preferably all) of the following traits, never let them go!
In order to be a great team player, it’s crucial to have an unbiased awareness of what you’re good at and what you suck at. As legendary entrepreneur and YouTube star Gary Vaynerchuk says: “Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths.”
In the modern era, we’re conditioned to improve our weaknesses rather than doubling down on our strengths. When you follow this path, it’s hard to rise above mediocrity.
However, when you’re brutally honest about your weaknesses, you can finally accept them and hone other skills that will make you extremely valuable to your employer.
Strong teams benefit when individual members are fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses, but it’s especially important that leaders understand the key attributes of their subordinates. Good leaders know how to delegate effectively, while bad leaders give inappropriate work to the wrong workers.
If you’re a good copywriter, you might excel at crafting thoughtful words in solitude, but perform badly when forced to interact with clients face-to-face. Likewise, a good sales rep can easily build rapport with prospective clients, but they might not be good at producing well-researched blog posts for the company’s website.
With this in mind, if you read most job descriptions, you could come to the conclusion that companies are only looking for outrageously extroverted sales people – for every single role!
The ideal team player should be an expert in their chosen disciplines – they shouldn’t be expected to switch roles with one another when there isn’t a major overlap in competencies.
For the same reason that Hightower plays as a linebacker and Brady plays as a quarterback, putting individuals in roles where they can fully utilize their talents is essential if you want effective teams that function optimally.
2. Committed to mastery
If you’re content to let your skills stagnate, then you will never fulfill your potential as a strong team member in any organization. This is particularly crucial in the Information Age, where industries are changing rapidly and certain skill sets are becoming obsolete overnight.
As Robert Greene, author of Mastery, states: “The time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus.” Great team players make time in their weekly schedule for refining their talents and adding new tricks to their repertoires.
When every member of the team is committed to personal growth, this not only creates an awesome working atmosphere, but it constantly brings new information into the organization which assists creative problem-solving.
Mindvalley, a company known for its progressive workplace culture, actually instructs its employees to spend 5 hours of their working week on personal development tasks such as reading a book or learning a new skill. When team members are honing their skills and undertaking personal growth challenges, teamwork will naturally flourish.
3. Intrinsically motivated
Most employees are heavily motivated by financial gain. This isn’t a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just an economic reality.
This elephant in the room is apparent to both employers and new candidates when that popular interview question is asked: “So, what attracted you to this role?”
There is nothing wrong with doing a job for money, but if you’re doing it only for money – then you’ll never be a great team member.
Anyone who has achieved a level of mastery at a skill appreciates the daily ritual of practice. This intrinsic motivation should inspire you to turn up day in, day out, irrespective of the accolades. It’s very difficult to be enthusiastic about something when extrinsic motivations like money, fame, and praise are all that you have.
If you’re not intrinsically motivated to perform the daily tasks in your vocation, you’re either in an environment where your talents are not being maximized, or you’re in the wrong vocation. In both cases, you need to make a change – immediately!
Most people have experienced the poisonous atmosphere of working with a team of depressed wage slaves – it’s no fun at all. Conversely, when your teammates are passionate about their disciplines and intrinsically motivated, the positivity is infectious.
While most employers prioritize personality traits over skills to a preposterous extent, reliability is another one of those essential characteristics of a team player that every employer should screen for. Even if a person has a phenomenal skill set, if they’re wishy washy and don’t follow through on their promises, then they’re not an effective team player.
Although reliability is considered to be a fixed trait, environmental factors also impact the reliability of employees. For instance, if a team member strives to do their best, but their boss gives them no praise and constantly takes credit for the work – this individual will certainly become less reliable.
If a person’s working environment reinforces that reliability is not rewarded, then it’s much more difficult to behave reliably – even if you’re reliable in every other area of your life.
Reliability can be improved by implementing flexible working practices.
Oftentimes, workers can be extremely reliable when they’re allowed to work remotely on a schedule that aligns with their personality and biology, but can seriously underperform when they’re hurled into an open-plan office with no privacy and abundant distractions.
If you want to make a meaningful contribution, it’s important to find a company that respects your individuality and will allow you to work in a style that maximizes your potential.
The best team players are honest about their achievements as well as their shortcomings. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, but when people try to shift the blame and weave false narratives, disasters can occur.
Entrepreneur and author James Altucher once said: “Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.”
Bad news can be difficult to handle, but the sooner you embrace the truth, the faster you can innovate and come to a solution. Being honest doesn’t mean being brazen – you can deliver constructive criticisms tactfully without hurting anyone’s feelings.
When you’re dealing with an honest person, you know where you stand with them. You don’t have to worry about them spinning narratives in order to achieve a certain agenda; they just say it as it is.
When rapport is based on authenticity rather than falsehood, this creates deeper relationships. When team members relate to one another better, they also produce greater results for the organization.
Being positive doesn’t mean behaving like Barney the Dinosaur, singing gleeful songs to your colleagues and exchanging hugs every day. Positivity isn’t about how smiley and talkative you are – it’s a mindset. You can be positive in a low-key manner and still have a wonderful impact on your teammates.
When you’re conscious about staying positive, you’ll see failure as feedback rather than a cataclysmic disaster. Positivity means finding a solution to a problem rather than passing the blame and dwelling on things you can’t control.
Research shows that positive employees are 12% more productive. Additionally, when you’re happy, you make better decisions, feel healthier and make your colleagues happier (and more productive) too by demonstrating a good team ethic.
In the field of sales, the “Law of State Transfer” can be leveraged in order to make prospects feel happier and excited, which improves their chances of purchasing. Put simply, whatever emotional state you’re feeling will rub off on whomever you’re talking to. This law applies to interacting with colleagues as well as sales prospects.
State transference is accentuated when you’re in a higher status position to the person you’re talking to. For this reason, team leaders need to stay extra vigilant in remaining positive, since their emotional state is likely to rub off on their subordinates to a significant extent.
Most people have felt their motivation decline when working for a boss who micromanages, uses hostile language and takes credit for the team’s work. In a 2015 survey, 50% of employees stated that they’d left a job in the past because of a bad manager. Don’t let this be you!
Have you ever heard the adage: “Treat people how they want to be treated”? This is atrocious advice.
Here is a much better tip: Treat people how you want to be treated.
Empathy is about being aware of how other people feel. If you’re unable to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their viewpoint, people are not going to enjoy working with you.
Sure, employees of the Patrick Bateman variety can get ahead by manipulating and exploiting those around them, but more often than not, this creates resentment which eventually leads to the person’s downfall.
Fortunately, empathy isn’t a fixed attribute – it’s something you can improve. Learning how to listen to your colleagues and assess their mood based on their sub-communications will make you an outstanding team player.
If a colleague has donned headphones and is exhibiting closed body language, they’re probably doing some serious work and it’s better to not disturb them – even if chocolates are being passed around the office and you don’t want them to miss out!
When you respect people’s boundaries and embrace their individuality (even if you don’t always agree with them), people will enjoy working with you.
8. Good communicator
It’s impossible to work together as a team if individual members don’t fully understand one another. Communication skills are imperative for anyone working in a team environment.
Arguably the most important communication skill is knowing how to give tactful, constructive criticism. While you might be voicing a criticism for the purpose of driving the team forward and solving a problem, if you’re not careful, the person on the receiving end may view it as a personal attack.
By showing appreciation for what the person did well, and then explaining what they could have done better, this creates a positive framework for the criticism and will lead to a much more positive outcome. In terms of delivering criticisms, there are cultural aspects to consider. What’s considered direct communication in Holland might be considered a social faux pas in England, so be sure your style of communication reflects the culture of your country, as well as the culture of your company.
Being a good communicator also means knowing when to stay silent. Oftentimes, if you don’t have an insightful comment that will drive the discussion forward, it’s better to say nothing. Good listeners don’t receive the same formal recognition as good talkers, but they’re just as valuable to a team.
Most people would associate confidence with someone like Anthony Robbins: bold, effervescent and commanding. However, you don’t need to be a consummate extrovert to have a deep belief in your inherent worth and abilities.
People prefer to work with confident (not arrogant) teammates for a number of reasons. When you have a positive self-image, you’re less inclined to engage in passive-aggressive behavior and gossip (which primarily serves as a short-term self-esteem boost). Confident people prefer to give compliments that make others feel better, rather than slander their colleagues. Also, confident people aren’t as emotionally reactive to failure and criticism. While an insecure person may view constructive criticism as a personal attack, a confident person will view the same information as feedback that they can use to make improvements.
Being in a romantic relationship with someone who is insecure, needy and hungry for validation is no fun – and the same applies to relationships with colleagues in the workplace!
10. Able to multitask
In the modern era, employees rarely have the chance to focus on one project at a time. In most situations, employees are required to juggle a handful of tasks while rigidly adhering to deadlines. For this reason, multitasking is one of the most common traits that employers screen for in job interviews.
It’s no surprise that employees who are able to multitask effectively are always well organized. By sticking to a daily sleep and exercise routine, decluttering your desk regularly, writing down information that you can’t remember and creating a task list in the mornings for your work days, your ability to multitask will improve exponentially.
Naturally, procrastination is the antithesis of multitasking. If you’re avoiding tackling tasks when you’re supposed to be hard at work, this will negatively affect all the projects on your calendar when a backlog ensues.
By cutting off distractions such as email and phone notifications while you work, you’ll find it easier to overcome procrastination. Also, you may get better results by doing your least favorite tasks early in the morning and giving yourself small rewards for tasks completed. By striving for consistency instead of perfectionism, your productivity and ability to multitask will increase.
Being detail-oriented doesn’t mean you’re incapable of grasping grand visions, it just means that you pay close attention to the small things. For instance, detail-oriented workers always meticulously proofread their work before submitting it. Imagine hiring an editor or copywriter that wasn’t detail-oriented!
Paying close attention to details means you recognize patterns that other people might be oblivious to. When something is out of place, you can depend on detail-oriented employees to notice. This is very helpful in terms of problem-solving, particularly if a creative solution is required.
Detail-oriented employees are great at reading body language and determining people’s intentions. Because of this, these individuals are likely to respect people’s boundaries and know when it’s appropriate to engage someone. Being detail-oriented not only results in a higher quality of work; it also entails better social skills.
Ego-driven managers love working with subordinates that they can control and dominate. Unfortunately, this is because they care more about feeling important than they care about the objectives of the organization. Micromanaging never produces good results for the company, but it can help certain managers to feel special temporarily.
For benevolent managers that are fully aligned with the companies that employ them, micromanaging is silly and unproductive. Good managers want dependable employees who they can assign a task to and know that it’ll be completed by the set deadline.
Sure, every now and then an employee might ask for clarification or help if they’ve hit a roadblock, but for the most part, a good employee will take the initiative and work autonomously to complete their objectives.
In order to perform better, many workers are seeking out remote working arrangements where they can function autonomously. In a 2013 workplace survey, it was found that employees who have a choice over when, where and how to work achieve higher levels of satisfaction, innovation, and job performance.
Companies don’t benefit from hiring employees that need constant coddling. In the adult world, employees who take the initiative and work autonomously produce the best results.
In this era of mass disruption, market shares can be lost overnight. In order survive and adapt, companies often have to change trajectories quickly. When this happens, employees also need to evolve in order to be useful.
Adaptability is a requirement for employees in this day and age. This comes down to a willingness to learn new information and pick up new skills.
Sometimes, employees might have to grow in ways that may not make sense based on their career goals, but instead for the greater good of the organization. For those who are calm under pressure and mature enough to prioritize the organization’s goals over their own – this makes them invaluable employees.
While flexible working practices are highly recommended to get the most out of employees, during urgent situations it’s important that the employees reciprocate. This might require working extra hours or grinding especially hard to get a project completed on time.
Adaptability also means being flexible to the working habits and personalities of your colleagues. If you’re collaborating with teammates who prefer to work remotely, you may need to learn how to use tools like Zoom for video conferencing and Asana for managing projects.
If you’re outgoing and talkative, you may need to adapt to your introverted colleagues who require quiet environments in order to work productivity. If you’re naturally introverted, asking a few friendly questions here and there will help to build rapport with your outgoing colleagues.
14. Understands the industry
Technical competency makes you a valuable asset to a team, but an understanding of the wider industry makes you irreplaceable. Keeping tabs on the industry shouldn’t just be a responsibility for the leadership team – everyone should have a keen interest in marketplace trends.
By reading industry periodicals and regularly checking what the competition is offering, you can help the company to stay on the right course and avoid being blindsided by new threats that no one else noticed.
In the NFL, the players with the highest “football IQ” don’t just practice drills pertaining to their position; they spend an inordinate amount of time studying videos on opposing strong teams for trend recognition. This allows them to decipher what the opponent is going to do and adjust course immediately, which can seem paranormal to those watching the game from the sidelines.
As Winston Churchill once said: “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
When you embrace new challenges and refuse to give up after temporary setbacks, your chances of success increase exponentially. Fortune favors the brave, but only the persistently brave.
James Dyson created over 5,000 failed prototypes of a bagless vacuum cleaner before he was eventually successful. Even then, he had enormous challenges bringing the product to market, since this new product presented a threat for the manufacturers of vacuum bags.
After overcoming these obstacles, James Dyson’s net worth is now over $4 billion. Interestingly, he only hires employees who believe that failure is good!
By keeping a positive attitude and persevering even when things aren’t going your way, this rubs off on your colleagues and creates a wonderfully productive workplace atmosphere.
Encouraging a healthy work-life balance should be a top concern for companies. See how our Work-life Balance Widget can help spot signs of burnout and work-life balance issues faster so that employees can be more productive, engaged and happier:
When you’re working with a great team, every day can feel like an adventure. With a bad team, your office can quickly become a dungeon.
Choosing the right team members not only affects the atmosphere of your workplace, but it significantly impacts employee productivity – which determines the long-term profitability of the company.
Pick your teammates wisely and be sure to screen for personality traits as well as hard skills during the hiring process.
Good team members FAQs
What are some of the best qualities of great team members?
There’s no black-and-white answer for this. However, there are some top-of-mind qualities to look for in terms of quality talent, including being collaborative, empathetic, accountable, committed, flexible, and coming in with a positive attitude.
How can you teach good team member qualities?
Internal employee workshops, providing consistent and constructive feedback, a fair rewarding system, providing a safe space for employees to discuss their growth, and fun team-building activities are all great ways to help provide resources for creating good team member qualities.
Do great team member qualities equate to being a great leader?
Not necessarily. Having great team member qualities doesn’t mean that someone is a born team leader. Some people have better leadership skills than others, but a team chock full of great team members generally requires less leadership in general, and tend to thrive in a more horizontal type of leadership structure.
Amara writes for TimeDoctor.com, a software designed for tracking hours and optimizing productivity for remote workers and remote teams.