collaboratorBy Kristen Carter, M.Ed., GCDF

Contributor, Senior Career Exploration Specialist

Whether in college or your current job, we have all been tasked to work on a group project or serve on a cross-functional committee. Initially, it’s essential to know the required task, but it’s common to be curious about the other group participants. Being able to produce strong quality work while operating solo is great; however, you must also be a strong contributor to the team effort in today’s job market.

In elementary school, I loved playing kickball at recess, but never wanted to be chosen last for a team. There could have been a myriad of reasons why this occurred, but the team captain likely based the selection decision on the following criteria:

  • Skill level
  • Whether or not you were a likeable person or easy to get along with
  • Past experience/track record

Fast forward 15-20 years to the workplace. Management and colleagues still evaluate you on these contributing factors, especially when working within a collaborative setting. Since being a top-notch group member is an essential asset for any job, here are a few tips to ensure you are selected first for any team project or committee.

  1. Know your responsibilities and how they affect others. Knowing the end goal and how your role as a team member contributes to it is the first step to being a successful group member. Be sure to get your work completed in a timely manner so other team members aren’t held up in the process.
  2. Use key skills.
    • Communication: You have a lot of other responsibilities within your daily job role, so be sure to communicate your time commitment and availability to your group members. Do not allow days to go by without responding to an email because you have been “busy.”
    • Constructive criticism: When working with multiple personality types in a group setting, there is no doubt that opinions will be shared regarding the work submitted. Be delicate when sharing your feedback, and be open to hearing others’ thoughts about your contribution.
    • Trust: Through honesty and respect, demonstrate that you support your team members as you each accomplish your tasks.
  3. Develop a strategy. First and foremost, you are responsible for managing your personal tasks, so set soft and hard deadlines to achieve them. If there is not an official project lead assigned, demonstrate leadership by taking ownership of the project, ensuring all group members have an opportunity to participate in order to utilize the strengths of each group member.

Overall, be sure to showcase your strong work ethic to your teammates so you are viewed as an asset when assigned to any future group projects.

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