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How are you fitting in with your team?

It’s a simple question that can be difficult to answer honestly.

Whether we mean to or not, some of us behave as if we don’t value our team. We show up to work each day and go through the motions. But the attitude “I’m here to work, not make friends” can contribute to increased feelings of social isolation in the workplace.

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The concept of teamwork is well researched. There’s a positive relationship between highly functioning teams and results. A highly functioning team is a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal.

For a group of employees to fit together as a cohesive team, they must have a shared set of values. As well, each team member must see the opportunity for receiving benefits – both extrinsic (recognition for achieving a goal) and intrinsic (feeling a part of something).

For most employees, work relationships contribute to their overall sense of well-being. To feel we fit in with a team, we typically need to believe we can get along with each team member, feel welcomed and accepted by all members, and are comfortable approaching and interacting with them.

Awareness

Most organizations’ success is dependent on having people work in teams for a common goal. One key microskill for today’s work world is being able to work within an assigned team.

There’s value in developing this skill, because having strong, healthy social connections and feeling accepted as part of a team can have a positive impact on overall job satisfaction.

Accountability

To fit in with a team, we must be willing to take responsibility for our actions. Being a team player requires showing up for each meeting with a willingness to contribute, share and engage.

Basic ingredients for being a team player include the following:

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  • Be patient; getting to know others is a process.
  • Surrender the need to always be right.
  • Avoid judging team members’ mistakes; accept that no one is perfect, including you.
  • Accept differences.
  • Be open; there’s typically more than one way to do most things.
  • Focus on what you can do to help others rather than what you can take from them.
  • Be open to feedback.
  • Treat all team members with the same level of professionalism and respect.
  • Call out concerns and any inappropriate behaviour in a professional manner.
  • Share concerns directly with team members; don’t gossip or complain behind their back.

We’re all accountable for our behaviour. Many teams fail to achieve their full potential because team members are not authentic.

It’s okay to not get along or to have conflict with team members; that’s part of learning. However, avoiding conflict or not expressing your concerns or asking questions can result in feeling disconnected. All you can do to fit in with a team is to be mindful of your behaviour and attitude.

Action

Fitting in with a team requires effort and intention. Following are a few tips that can help:

  • Trust matters – It takes time for most of us to trust another person, and it can take seconds to lose their trust. Never take trust for granted. Protect it by doing what you say you’ll do and ensure your intentions are clear. When or if you have a misunderstanding, act quickly to clear it up to protect trust.
  • Flexibility – Most of us like our routines. But in today’s geopolitical world, where economics, technology, climate and cultural factors are being challenged, the more we can anticipate things are going to keep changing, the more mentally prepared we will be to adapt. Change will be constant, and teams that can flex and adapt are likely to thrive.
  • Care and communicate – Teams benefit when each member demonstrates they care for their fellow members’ well-being through their actions. Keep lines of communication open by not assuming teammates all have the same information.
  • Be authentic – Be yourself, open and honest with team members. Share your concerns and accept that disagreement is a part of the team process. It’s normal to have hard days with your team; no one says being on a winning team is easy. Be realistic. There will be hard days, but that doesn’t mean you have a bad team. It means you’re having a challenge that creates an opportunity for learning and evolving your experience with your team.

The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and total well-being of their employees first. Register for the 2020 Employee Recommended Workplace Award at: employeerecommended.com. This series of articles supports the award

Read about the 2019 winners of the award and watch a video from the winners here. You can also purchase the benchmark report that outlines findings from 2019 at this link.

Bill Howatt is the founder of Howatt HR Consulting and a co-creator of the Employee Recommended Workplace Award.

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You can find other stories like these at tgam.ca/workplaceaward.

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