Teamwork is a valuable work and life skill

Knowing your team player style can help you be successful.

The word team in different colored letters.
Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

Teamwork continues to be a very important skill for success in many arenas, including the world of work. It is a skill many employers value in today’s job market. According to Assist Director Allison Fox of Michigan State University’s Career Services Network, “experience engaging in teamwork is a skill sought out by most employers.” Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H provide a variety of opportunities to foster teamwork as a life skill.

When teamwork is effective, communication, collaboration and combined efforts makes for a better outcome. Everyone brings their skills, talents and experiences together for a common goal. The different styles of each person make for more creativity and innovation.

Just as with personalities and learning styles, there are tools that can help you assess and learn more about your style of teamwork. One of those tools is the Parker Team Player Survey. It has been around for some time and is easy to use. I recently experienced this survey as part of a leadership program and implemented it with a group of colleagues to help us learn more about how to effectively work together. There are no right or wrong answers to this tool, as we each possess all four styles within us.

The Parker Team Player Survey explains your ability to work in a team through four styles:

  • The contributor is a task-oriented team member who enjoys providing the team with good technical information and data, does their homework, and pushes the team to set high performance standards and use their resources wisely.
  • The collaborator is a goal-directed member who sees the vision, mission or goal of the team as paramount, but is flexible and open to new ideas, willing to pitch in and work outside their defined role, and able to share the limelight with other team members.
  • The communicator is a process-oriented member who is an effective listener and facilitator of involvement, conflict resolution, consensus building, feedback and building of an informal, relaxed climate.
  • The challenger is a member who questions the goals, methods and even the ethics of the team, is willing to disagree with the leader or higher authority, and encourages the team to take well-conceived risks.

Whether at work, in your 4-H club or other areas of your life, knowing how you contribute to a team is useful. Once you take the Parker Team Player Survey and have your scores, you can use the following questions to reflect on your styles to enhance your effectiveness as a team player. It would also be beneficial to talk about the different styles with any team in which you currently serve as a contributing member.  Here are some questions to think about:

  • What teams do you currently serve on?
  • What teams do you think you might serve on in the future?
  • What is your strongest style?
  • What is your weakest style?
  • How can you become an even more effective team member based on these styles?
  • How can you use this information in your future world of work?

The better you know yourself, the more you can contribute to an effective team using your team player styles. Over time, you may even adapt your preferred style to enhance your efforts within a team.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

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