A business is not unlike a sports team; they both consist of a variety of people with a variety of skills who share a common goal.  Each player has particular responsibilities and roles to fill, however, when a company has solid teamwork on the inside, it is clearly demonstrated on the outside.

Chances are, you’re not always going to get along with all of your coworkers.  Most sales people have much different personalities than most accountants, operations and selling function differently and there’s usually a divide between departments, regardless of where you work.

However, if you put forth the effort to be a better team player, you can help your company run like a well-oiled machine and not a rusty old pickup.  Here are some tips on how you can be a better team player:

  1. Remember the Golden Rule: Because businesses are professional teams, chances are, you are going to need help from a teammate in the future, regardless of what your position is.  The best way to ensure you have a good chance of getting that favor is if you have done something for others.  So many times, I’ve had to have the warehouse quickly pull and ship an order for me so I make every effort to help them whenever I can because if we help each other, we accomplish our goals faster.
  2. Say yes: Or at least say “I’ll see what I can do,” rather than always initially saying no without consideration.  Many times, when asking a favor of someone else, that person will say “I’m too busy” or provide a list of excuses why they can’t help.  Oftentimes, requests are actually simple and rather than provide a list of excuses why you can’t help, consider whether you actually have time to help.  If you honestly don’t have the time, say so, but your consideration will; be remembered when you need a favor in the future.
  3. Have a sense of humor: Nothing’s worse than breaking bad news to someone who can’t take it and oftentimes, in any business, you get your fair share of bad news.  Don’t be sour about things though; when times are stressful people are more likely to gravitate toward someone who can lighten the mood than to someone who stresses them out.  Additionally, if you are the one receiving the bad news, you will get that news much faster if the giver knows you won’t kill the messenger.  Laughter is contagious and makes for a lighter work environment.
  4. Acknowledge good ideas: It’s easy to get a hurt ego at work, especially if you’re surrounded by talented people.  Do yourself a favor and acknowledge when others have a good idea because it builds a positive work environment.  One of the greatest benefits of working with talented people is sharing ideas and improving your own skills.  When your team looks good, you look good as well and if you give credit to others, they will be quick to credit you.
  5. Avoid the rumor mill: Office gossip can run rampant and when it gets negative, it has a severe impact on employees.  When job stability or unfairness is mentioned, employees get concerned and go on the defense.  By putting a positive spin on any rumors or shutting them down from the get-go, you can change the mindset of your work environment.  Also consider the fact that if others badmouth your coworkers to you, chances are they’re badmouthing you as well.  If you can turn their focus to how others are helping the company, you can spread positive vibes instead of negative.
  6. Be responsible and dependable: If you’ve ever tasked someone with a project only to have them forget, you know the disappointment it brings.  Don’t be that person.  Find the best way to keep track of your responsibilities and follow through with them.  Provide updates and ask questions if needed.  That way, if you hit a bump early on, it’s much easier to resolve than if you wait until the last minute.
  7. Value your team: When things go awry, it’s easy to blame others, but blaming others is not productive whatsoever.  Focus on the end goal and how you can achieve it with the help of your team.  Your positive attitude will make each struggle that much less of a struggle and each success that much sweeter because you can all share in the success you earned together as a team.

Remember, there is no I in team.  Work for your team and they will work for you in return.

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