What do great team members do?

#lego voltron
photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiredforsound23/

“Don’t worry about, I’ll take care of it,” said my amazing team member on Friday night (props to @tcoffee). Just like that, a major roadblock to an upcoming project was gone and I didn’t have to do a thing. Great team members take on responsibilities like this all the time and radiate confidence that the job is going to get done. They also make sure that the job goes over the finish line. I felt great when he said this and I also wondered what other traits signify a truly valuable team member.

It starts with excellence.

What makes a really great team member? Great team members start by doing things that are simply table stakes on the imaginary list of “Great Team Qualities.” You might pronounce some of these items “they do a great job,” and “they are fun to have around,” and “they just get stuff done no matter what happens.” Yet we often ignore the smaller, less quantifiable things that great team members do and that don’t always get noticed.

When I think of the qualities that mark a great team member, I compile the following list. It’s not stack ranked purposefully, but since this is an ordered list, maybe it is stack ranked after all.

The Things Great Team Members Do.

Great team members:

  1. display grace under pressure – if they are cracking, you don’t see it, and they fail gracefully.
  2. are willing to do small, unpleasant jobs – sometimes the “get it done” jobs are not very pretty, and still need to get done.
  3. show respect for the waiter and secretary – if you see them give respect when they don’t have to do so, that’s a sign of a great team member.
  4. is almost always excellent at what they do – they say “that wasn’t that hard,” and then go ahead and do amazing things.
  5. has the easy ability to say “I screwed up”, raise their hand, and ask for help – when it actually is hard, they involve the team at the right time (early enough to fix the problem.)
  6. can fix it after they screwed up – a great team member will use a solution to make it so.
  7. maintains love of food, life, and fun – that team member has a life beyond the office.
  8. by nature, is the Most Interesting Person in The World – and always surprise you by sharing great information and things they learned today.

How do you know when you’ve got a great team member?

There are a few constants here: service, excellence, ability to learn, and fun. If your team member provides great internal and external service, is consistently great at what they do, learns new things and has fun sharing and doing those new things, chances are good that person is a great team member.

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