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Why teamwork is always important
Gauri Mitra
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April 24, 2007

There are few jobs that don't require us to interact with colleagues in a team. For the most part, we need to work cohesively with others at our workplaces to achieve the organisational goals.

But how many of us can really claim to be good teammates? Here are a few ways to help you become a more effective team member.


Whether it is meetings, brainstorming sessions, conference calls or any other activities, it is important that you participate wholeheartedly. If someone puts forward an idea, ask questions without restraint.

Says Sunita Chauhan (name changed), a developer with a large IT firm, "One of my colleagues had this annoying habit of keeping quiet during meetings, but would pester others later with his doubts and make snide remarks on decisions that had been taken. His productivity and attitude were so poor that he was assigned to another project." Speak your mind freely but, of course, remember to be inoffensive.

Keep the common goal in mind

The formal definition of teamwork is 'cooperative effort by the members of a group or team to achieve a common goal.' The key words here are -- 'cooperative effort' and 'common goal'. Often, individual members of a team seem to venture in their own directions, without considering the overall goal of the project.

Keep in mind that companies are working on moving towards team-based appraisals. A prominent engineering firm is adopting this approach, in which your appraisal will earn you extra points (or negative ones) depending on how your team has performed.

Be open-minded

Often, you may put forth ideas that will be mulled over by the team as a whole and may eventually be rejected. Be broad-minded and confident enough to accept this. Use this opportunity to get feedback on your ideas such that it helps improve your thinking process for the future.

Mrinalini, who works in an advertising agency, says, "There were one or two members in my team who believed their ideas were always the best. When those were not accepted, they sulked and landed up adversely affecting the team morale. They even managed to convince some others that the approach being taken was wrong."

Be clear about your role

At the outset itself, the project leader should assign specific responsibilities to people keeping in mind their relevant skills.

Abhijit Sinha, senior developer in an IT consultancy, says, "When my project started, there were no clear demarcations of roles. Things were going haphazardly, with people just taking up whatever work they liked. As the seniormost person on the team, I landed up doing a large chunk of the work, in addition to guiding youngsters and planning the schedules. I discussed this with the project manager in great detail and he finally sorted out the issue by assigning me the role of team leader and issuing specific tasks to other members."

Help your teammates and your leader

If your peer is stuck with a problem he or she can't resolve alone, assist him in solving the issue by all means. Of course, this doesn't mean you do all his work for him or even that you neglect your own duties completely.

One of the best ways to help your supervisor is to keep him or her updated at all times about the percentage completion of your work. It may be a short daily e-mail, or even a daily status meeting by which you can do this.

Don't be the dominating one

If one person takes up the floor and tries to steamroll others with his ideas, it can only have a negative effect. The team member who does this is usually the most annoying person, who tries to force his ideas and opinions on everyone.

Support your leader

All team members must support their project-in-charge whole-heartedly. They need not be yes-men but, once a decision is taken, they must rally behind him or her with complete support. This is especially true if your leader is a woman.

As a female project leader, I have often noticed a slight tendency on the part of male employees to resent having to report to a lady. They either feel uncomfortable about the idea or are just sceptical of her capabilities.

Don't forget to have fun!

A team should always take the opportunity to meet in a relaxing unofficial environment where there is no talk of a project or its problems, even if it means just going to the office canteen for a cup of coffee.

And always remember the other popular expansion of TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.

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