Traits of a Great Team Member

By | December 8, 2014

Kool Derby

Project managers are constantly on the lookout for excellent team members. When work needs to get done, it’s important that you have energized, optimistic, hard-working, and committed individuals on the team. Of course, these individuals are difficult to find, and even harder to secure for our project activity.

From my experience leading projects, here are skills that I find important for project team members:

Know the Expectations

Before any work can take place, you need to be clear regarding what is expected. If you don’t know, it’s erroneous to assume. For example, if an activity for the project requires scheduling air travel for key stakeholders, you need to confirm the airport preferences. You cannot assume that New York LaGuardia is best for someone from NYC.

Great team members are those who ask plenty of questions at the beginning of the project, such as the following:

  • “Jack, I want to make sure I’m clear regarding my work. Do you want me to work with Helen on the marketing campaign? How do you want progress reported?”
  • “Laura, it’s great to be on this project, and I’m excited that it will make our company better. From my understanding, we will need three resources from IT. Have we contacted their manager to gain approval for the number of hours we need for our project? I just want to make sure we have the people available for the database work effort.”
  • “Roberto, I agree that we need to build the product as soon as possible. However, I think we should contact Legal about the potential intellectual property issues now. We know that some competitors are doing similar work, and this is a base that we need to cover. Would you like me to set up the meeting with Stella in Legal?”

Focus on Execution

There is a tendency to over plan, which means that work becomes too complicated. The successful team member understands that working in chunks or manageable pieces is preferred. A personal example is cleaning your garage. One Saturday, you can remove the trash and other items that will be tossed. The next Saturday, you can purchase and install storage units. On the last Saturday, you can give the garage a good cleaning. In total, you worked 15 hours, but it was done over three weekends. By breaking the project into pieces, you have a better understanding of the work, and you avoid committing all your free time to the project.

The bottom line is that excellent team members will put their heads down and get to work. Once they know what needs to get done, they focus on execution. The ability to stick with one task until it is done separates the average team member from the superstars.

One final point is that excellent team members are optimistic and willing to accept new challenges. You can expect problems along the way, and it’s important to find a solution. The more problems you can solve, the more valuable you are to the team and the organization.

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