Being independent and thriving on your own in the workplace can be a real asset. But even the most independent of workers will need to tackle their teamwork skills and change their approach at some point.
Working effectively within a team is an important skill to cultivate since it encourages productivity, boosts morale, and improves collaboration. But once you’ve settled into an independent way of working, breaking away from your usual workplace routines can be difficult. From getting back into the habit of asking for help to communicating effectively – there’s a lot to think about when it comes to being a great team player.
We’re here to help ease your transition from a siloed worker to a team player with some actionable tips you can use.
Tips for working successfully in a team
Working successfully within a team is a skill that can easily be gained with the right amount of time and patience. Below we’ll go through our top tips for independent workers who want to change the way they work.
Improve your communication
Communication can be one of the most difficult aspects for an independent worker to nail. Although it’s a key skill in the workplace, those who haven’t needed to practice their skills for a while might struggle.
To build your communication skills again, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to learn how best to communicate with the other members of your team. Be patient and keep working at being a good communicator – it won’t come to you overnight. Start small by greeting your co-workers and from there, you can work your way up to providing regular project updates or sending out weekly communications.
Good communication can even be hard to master for those who are used to working within a team, so don’t beat yourself up if you get something wrong a few times. Help foster workplace relationships and drive forward collaboration, while also prioritising active listening and empathetic approaches.
Lifting up yourself and others isn’t usually a priority when you work alone, but it can make a huge difference. Looking for any opportunity to spread positivity can lead to better collaboration and an improved outlook at work.
Smile at others, ask how they’re doing, and reward or praise their successes – these things will go a long way and make you seem like a great team player.
Get into the habit of sharing useful information with other team members. Whether it’s an interesting article or good results from a project, the exchange of information is crucial for helping you feel more involved. Not only this, but it’ll help others in the team get to know you and your processes better.
Engage in meetings
Whether you host them or simply attend – going to meetings can help you feel part of the team. When people are bouncing round ideas, you can also get a pretty good sense of their roles and how they fit into the team.
Meetings can also ensure the team stays on track with progress and that everyone understands any upcoming challenges or actions. When you’re easing yourself away from independent working, meetings can be the best way to get to grips with things quickly.
Focus on the purpose of the team
When we start to feel uncomfortable about a new situation, it might be tempting to revert to our old style of working. If this happens, it can be useful to remind yourself why the team exists in the first place since this can help you understand why this is the best approach.
A common goal allows you to see that you’re all working towards the same things and can be great for fostering relationships with your co-workers.
Accept help from others
After working independently with no help from others, it can be difficult to accept when you need a helping hand from your team.
But knowing when to ask for help is often a critical aspect of teamwork. Your team are there to support you, which can be strange when you’ve been missing that from your work life. If you’re struggling to complete your workload or just need somebody to help with ideas, reach out and collaborate.
Accepting feedback can also be a game changer since other team members might pick up on better ways to handle situations than you hadn’t previously thought of. The more receptive you can be to feedback and opinions of others, the easier you’ll find your transition.
Taking a proactive approach to problems can be a great way to show off your dedication to the team and its goals. Looking out for potential issues or roadblocks to success and knowing the answers to resolve anything quickly for others can save time and boost productivity.
Foster mutual trust
Trust should always go both ways. Make sure that you let your co-workers know that you trust their judgement, opinions, and methods, and they’ll learn to trust you too. Mutual respect and trust are built through honest and open conversations.
If you and your team can trust each other, then you’ll be better placed for success.
When you’re used to handling everything on your own, drawing the lines between different roles can be a challenge. Try to work with the other team members to set out clear responsibilities and ensure everyone has clarity on what they’re expected to do.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities will ensure you’re all working as efficiently and productively as possible with no unnecessary overlap or duplicate work being produced.
It can also be easy to assume that others work and interact in the same way that you do. This usually isn’t the case, so try observing others to learn about their working styles and preferences. Chances are, you’ll be able to find out a lot just through observation, and you can use this knowledge to adjust your style to fit theirs better. For example, if some team members respond better to emails than calls, you can consider this when you need to contact them.
Being flexible in your role might feel strange, but it can be great when you’re just trying to find your feet within a team.
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