In successful teams, each team member will exhibit these four traits.
When we talk about the best ways to produce real company success, what is one of the first key components that come to your mind? Your team, right? Perhaps your team looks more like a group of employees than a team (more on that next week), or maybe you have a well-organized, committed and collaborative team that is producing at a very high level. No matter your current experience, at some point, you are going to have to evaluate, replace, or add an additional team member. It is clear to all of us who have managed a team that having the right members on your team is key to making teamwork work! This knowledge then begs the question: what characteristics define a successful team member?
Very often a manager will say to me, “I have somebody on my team who isn’t cooperative, they’re not collaborative but they’re just so good at what they do. I don’t know what to do about them, but I can’t get rid of them because they’re a great contributor.”
If you could put that person on a scale, plotting their contribution on the positive side and weigh that against their negative effect on morale, their unwillingness to cooperate with others, could you still justify keeping them on the team, allowing them not to be a team player? The reality is that seldom does that make sense. There is a very big difference between a good individual contributor and a great team member. Here are, what I think, are the four key characteristics of a successful team member.
The first key is simple. The team member must have the competence, or the ability, to do their job and contribute to the team. It’s not to say that this competence cannot be learned over time. There are many examples of great team members that were trained to become competent, but your team members must have at least a baseline knowledge to get the job done, ask the right questions to learn, be able to learn from their successes and mistakes, and have the will to continue learning. The last – the will to continue learning – is key to the competence of any team member, no matter how experienced or competent they are in their particular field.
A successful team member will be committed to what needs to be done to live up to expectations, achieve goals, and produce results. The successful team member is not only committed to the vision and mission of the organization and/or initiative they are working on, but they are also committed to the team they are working with. They take their team commitments seriously, and they are sensitive to the fact that not living up to their commitments has a negative effect on the whole team – not just the team member as an individual.
In order to truly be successful, each of your team members must have the ability and willingness to work together to produce a better outcome than what each of them individually could have accomplished alone. This includes the ability to provide and receive feedback, share opportunities, and to learn from the successes and mistakes of the group.
Each team member must be consistently turning in individual and team results. It’s not enough to “keep busy” with small tasks and meetings. Each successful team member must be able to hit deadlines and benchmark goals, both as an individual and as a team, to contribute to the organization moving toward achieving the vision.
These are the four key characteristics of a successful team member that I look for and try to identify in both new and existing employees. The success of the organization as a whole rests heavily on each individual member of my team to show, and excel at, these key characteristics. What ideal team member characteristics would you add to the list?