Understanding Your Role as a Team Member
With multiple people involved in accomplishing a project, it’s critical that everyone know what is and is not expected from them in their team activities.
In most cases their technical contributions are the primary reason they were selected for team membership, and that expertise will form the foundation of
their participation. However, there is much more to being an effective team member than knowing how to perform specific tasks. How well you end up
working together, and therefore, how well you meet the team’s objectives depend on how well you understand your role.
You need to:
• Commit to team goals.
• Ask for clarification if necessary.
• Identify and define related roles.
Commit to Team Goals
Team goals are often established by the person who assembled the team. Generally, the task is identified first, and then the decision is made to form a
team to tackle it. But sometimes the team sets its own goals at the beginning of its life cycle. In either case, to be a fully empowered and effective team
member, you must clearly understand the team’s purpose, goals and objectives, and vision for success and feel that they are yours.
Fully participate in any discussion and encourage the team to spend enough time on decisions that that you feel comfortable committing to those decisions.
Whether serving as a member of a team is something you do full-time or an add-on to your usual job, you must feel committed in order to be willing to
expend the energy it will take to be effective.
Ask for Clarification
Team members often leave their first meeting with even more questions than they had when they arrived. If there is one word that describes what it takes
to be an effective team member, that word may be initiative. From the beginning, you need to take responsibility to clarify anything you don’t
Asking clarifying questions is particularly vital in a team setting. The difficulty of communicating effectively increases exponentially with the number of
people involved, and a misunderstanding on a team can be very expensive in hard costs and human costs alike.
Asking clarifying questions also helps your team leader overcome the challenges he or she faces. The more you seek and obtain answers, the less the
team leader has to worry about whether you understand, are committed, and are on board. So, ask questions, and don’t wait for someone else to notice that
you need answers!
Identify Related Roles
You are on the team to provide some professional or technical expertise required to accomplish the team’s goals. If it’s not clear to you why you were
included, ask your team leader. If others with related expertise are on the team, identify how you can integrate your efforts to avoid redundancy and
ensure that all bases are covered.
You have another role besides a technical one-that of team member. Do you have responsibilities related to getting the team going, helping it function,
pulling it back on track, performing administrative tasks? Clarification of roles and responsibilities is an important team process, and if your leader doesn’t do
it in a formal way, you can request that it be done. Being aware of the roles of others on the team will facilitate smooth working relationships.
Effective teams don’t spontaneously occur just because a group of people has been put together in a room and given an assignment. High performing teams
start their development process with a shared vision of what it means to be a team and how the team will work together to accomplish its goals.
Remember, if you or a household member are dealing with communication trouble, work stress, burnout, or just need some coaching around teamwork
related goals, your employee assistance program is here for you. Resources include free and confidential counseling, wellness coaching, trainings, personal
development tools, and more. If you need additional information or to access services, please call MINES and Associates at 1-800-873-7138 today. Also,
PersonalAdvantage has a ton of great resources and FREE webinars.
How to Empower Your Team
When employees don’t feel empowered, they tend to isolate themselves and work alone, rather than as a team. They also might be less motivated and not
as creative or inspired to achieve. In turn, this lack of empowerment leaves employees and teams unable to perform to their highest ability and
productivity. Empowering your team brings success to employees, groups, and companies.
Read the advice below to see how supervisors can build empowered teams:
Allow the Team to Plan
Allow the team to plan for a whole project, rather than small pieces of a project at a time. This way, employees will have to plan their work schedule
accordingly and assign goals for themselves. This will generate team-wide responsibility to get the project done.
Allow the Team to Schedule Projects
Daily meetings on scheduling can take up precious time rather than fill individuals with a productive spirit. Allow employees to schedule for their
tasks, giving them enough work to fill up a week or more. Letting team members schedule projects on their own will help create better planning skills.
Allow the Team to Make Decisions
When an employee is involved with decision-making, he or she will feel like an essential part of the team. Bring the team together for brainstorming or
impromptu meetings so individuals can share in the decision-making process. Encouraging decision-making will make sure the team moves forward quickly
toward its goals.
Allow the Team to Assign Work to Its Individuals
Individuals of a team have insight into their strengths and skills, so allow the team to divide up a large project on their own. Also, this will allow individuals
to develop new strengths and skillsets, as a team member may complete a task he or she has not done before. As a result, you will have better trained and
more well-rounded employees.
Look at Results Rather Than the Process
When a team does the work to plan, schedule, make decisions, and assign duties, the supervisor will be able to see if the team was effective or not. By
looking at the end result, rather than the process, you’ll be able to empower your employees with the ability to govern themselves yet still provide feedback
on whether their results were acceptable. This will inspire the team to find new ways to work on other projects and adjust their process if necessary.