Teamwork As A Valued Trait


Looking at job postings these days, teamwork is one qualification that shows up fairly consistently; the ability to work cooperatively and productively with others. It’s a highly valued commodity; an essential quality that employer’s want more and more in the people they bring in from the outside to join their existing workforces.

It’s more though than simply getting along with others. When you work as a member of a team, you’ve got to understand and act differently than you would if you were working independently. A member of a team comes to rely on others and at the same time be relied upon by them to complete assigned work. Good teams trust each person to show up when scheduled, pull their own weight and go about their work in such a way that fits the other employees. When you’re the new hire, you’re being assessed by the employer and your new co-workers to see how you’ll fit in with the existing workforce; everyone is hoping you’ll contribute in such a way that doesn’t disrupt the way things are. This is true unless of course you’re part of an overhaul of how things have been done and the company wants to shift the culture from the way things have been to something different.

Long ago, many job applicants had similar skills and backgrounds. When an employer advertised an opening, they found that the people applying shared common work histories; people didn’t tend to move around much, and people were interchangeable without much need for teams to adapt to new people. These days, things have changed. Because it’s easier to move around the globe, often employees are showing up not just from different parts of the community, they’re coming from different countries altogether; sometimes from different continents, speaking different languages and having different ways of doing similar work. People aren’t as interchangeable as they once were, and now need much more orientation to local methods, specific procedures and company practices.

You find too that friction is inevitable for some when bringing in new people. Whereas in the past the new hire had to assimilate themselves into the culture of the teams they joined, now you find that many existing workers have to gain an awareness and sensitivity to the needs of the person hired as well. This is a good thing, but it requires effort on the part of the existing team in a way that long ago wasn’t such a priority. Employers too have learned to be culturally sensitive to the needs of their individual workforce members. They go out of their way now to train people on how to work better together – and by better, they ultimately mean be more productive.

Many workers are now cross-trained; they learn not just how to do the job they were initially hired for, but they also learn how to do the job of others. When a person is cross-trained, they become more adaptable, can work in two or three different roles if need be, they become more valuable to the employer. For the person, they are increasing their own skills and doing everything they can to stay hired.

Communication skills are essential when working together. It’s more than just being able to talk and write clearly though. It’s all the non-verbal interaction that’s going on too. Even when working side-by-side with someone, it’s anticipating what they’ll do next, knowing when they’ll need to interact with you and knowing when you’ll be interacting with the next person on your team. Doing your work and being counted on by your teammates to be reliable and dependable goes a long way to fitting in.

The thing about a team environment is that each member should understand and buy in to the same end goals. These can be quotas and targets to hit on a daily basis for example, or they can be how a product is delivered to the customers or end-users. Many teams take a lot of pride in what they do, and if someone – a new hire in this case, threatens that mood or feeling, it will need to be addressed.

Sometimes an organization will actually hire more employees than they plan on keeping. What they are doing in fact is having an internal competition to see who among the new employees will fit with the existing chemistry the best. Or said another way, they are determining who is the most disruptive, performing more independently than gelling with others, and who then to let go.

In a job interview, it’s not enough to say you’re a team player. Too many other people are making the same claims. What is absolutely critical is to give clear examples from your past or current work experiences where you’ve thrived working cooperatively with others and been highly productive. When you show or prove you’ve worked effectively as a valued team member, you make it easier for the interviewers to envision you performing similarly for them. This is where many applicants fail miserably; they make statements with nothing to back up their claims.

Teamwork is about recognizing the strengths of each person and putting everyone in a position to contribute towards the common end goal. If you don’t know what your teams purpose is, this is something you should immediately ask. And while you don’t need to be best friends with your team, show some interest in them.

New Job? Here’s To Passing Probation


When you’ve been unemployed, passing the interview and receiving a job offer is a rewarding experience. Whether it’s a fist pump, a call to you mom, dinner out with the spouse/partner, or celebrating with a drink raised to you by friends, you’re bound to be excited.

You should feel good of course, and sharing this moment of triumph with the people closest to you who know what it’s taken to get to this point makes sense. These people are happy for you but also relieved themselves of the stress your past unemployment placed on them.

You may be so grateful for this latest opportunity that you plan on never being out of work again; never wanting to feel the shock of being fired, the shame of being walked out of the building and the embarrassment of coming home early and explaining why you’re there. Well good for you. However, before you throw out your resumes and job search materials, thinking you’ll never need them again, make a really good decision and that’s to hang on to it all. Store it safely away where it’s near at hand if and when you need it.

In almost every job you’re facing a period of probation; that period of time when you or the employer can walk away from the relationship with no explanation required. That sounds like a good thing unless of course you want to stay and the employer says, “It’s just not working out here.” While that sounds like it could be something you hear early in a personal relationship, the employer usually goes on to say one more thing that separates them from the dating scenario; “It’s definitely you not us.”

If you want to pass probation, (let’s assume this is a given shall we?), here’s a few pointers:

1. Show Up. You’re now accountable for your time and even if you have valid excuses for running late or being absent, the company still has work to be performed and customers to serve. Some people who have been out of work for an extended period find it difficult to get the body and mind back into a committed routine; don’t be one of them!

2. Re-think Social Media. Now that the company has brought you into the family, your actions and behaviours are going to reflect positively or negatively on not only you but also their reputation. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss or co-workers to see or read. A rant on the internet about your idiotic boss will likely find its way to their attention.

3. Be Reliable. Consider the fellow who tells all his co-workers about the wild times he has getting loaded every weekend and then calls in regularly on Mondays with various reasons for his absence. This is a sure way to lose your job fast. Remember that probation is presumably you on your best behaviour. If this is you at your best, what will you be like after probation? You might not get the opportunity to show them how bad you can really get.

4. Be Friendly. Now whether you’re outgoing, shy, timid or an introvert, everyone can go about their day being courteous and friendly. You don’t need to meet workers after the job for drinks, hang out with those having personalities which overwhelm you or smile all day long if that’s unnatural for you; but do be friendly. It’s not just your qualifications and skills being evaluated, it’s the chemistry you’re making with those around you and how everyone performs with you in the workplace.

5. Take Direction.  You’re not the boss; well, unless of course you are the boss. Listen. There is likely a reason why things are done the way they are. If you’re asked for your suggestions that’s fine but pay close attention to how your ideas are received. Learn quickly to hold off on your brilliant suggestions and watch your words as you suggest the things you do. A sure-fire way to find yourself unemployed is to say on your 5th day, “Who’s the idiot who came up with this policy?”

6. Be Helpful. You just might find that while your own job takes top priority; and it should, there may be moments here and there to be helpful to others in completing theirs. Small things like picking up papers someone has dropped, holding the door for colleagues no matter their gender and learning as quickly as you can so your trainer can get back to doing their own job full-time.

7. Listen. You’re the newbie and your knowledge of the organization, their practices, policies, organizational structure, and workplace dynamics is the worst not the best in the organization. Listen with a goal of reducing the number of times someone needs to repeat themselves during your training.

8. Dress The Part. You may be tempted to thrown on your ACDC t-shirt and cords after the first few days on the job because you noted one other employee standing in line in the cafeteria was wearing something similar. Don’t do it! Dress with care and attention each day. You’re not trying to show up your co-workers but rather demonstrate that you understand the dress code and respect both it and those around you with whom you interact. If you’re not sure, ask.

There are lots of things you can do to hasten your termination or pass probation with flying colours. What would you add to the list?