This list began by reading a few articles about being a great leader and while thinking those may be great leadership qualities they are also great people qualities, team member skills, people we all want to work with traits. We’ve all been on teams, if you haven’t you were on a team and didn’t know it, or you will someday. It’s the number three guarantee of life, you will be on a team, it’s right up there with death and taxes. Some teams are way more fun to be on than others, what makes those teams more fun. Some might say it’s what you’re working on and to a certain degree that’s true, but I’ve done some nasty jobs and really enjoyed the team I was on. It’s the people. The people are what make a team and ultimately the work you do an enjoyable experience. But it’s not just any people there are certain people that can make any situation unbearable and there’s other people that make the skies open, divine sun rays shine through and angles sing while birds chirp and things are wonderful.
What are the qualities that people have that make them great to work with? I haven’t figured them all out, but here’s 18 of them in no particular order:
Believe in Some Form of Karma
Being indirectly compensated for your contributions is something that is important to remember. Often times people will say, “That’s not my job” well you have the ability and the authority so in the interest of progress how ‘bout you knock this out for us real quick? Team members who keep score of who does what and how often not only end up really unhappy but are so preoccupied with keeping score they are useless. Do what ever you can. You’ll be justly compensated somehow for your contribution and if completion of the project isn’t enough for you do everyone else a favor and get off the team. That’s right get out of the way so someone, even though less skilled, can get on the team and be lots more productive. You owe it to the world.
So getting along just for the sake of getting along is terrible. The world doesn’t need another head bobbing yes person. If you KNOW something is WRONG speak up. Notice the caps? If you know it’s wrong your it’s you’re responsibility to say so. On the other hand guessing that something is wrong and fighting about it is wrong(er). Assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. Assertive means that you honestly offer up a valid truth at the right time (earlier rather than later). Aggressive means that you want to see veins in your teeth when you look in the mirror.
Again. Assertive is just stating what you know as a fact and how it relates to the team or relevant team members. Aggressive is that state of not being able to take an unmitigated step forward.
If you find yourself fighting or on a team that’s fighting look to see if people are being defensive. Often times someone has their feelings hurt and now has to demonstrate how smart they are to the rest of the team.
Encourage others to contribute
Ever notice the person who is constantly trying to demonstrate how smart they are is the least pleasant person on the team. No matter what you think this person hasn’t thunk it already. Yeah I know it’s thought instead of thunk, but I chose to use my creative license to demonstrate how stupid the behavior is. If this person does have real value then take them out back and kick them a few inches short of death and then invite them back on the team. If they are irrevocably useless then kick them out. Who needs the constant distraction of someone whose mother told them too many times they are wonderful and they can do anything? In reality these types of people get in the way of others.
They are so preoccupied holding the mic, the stage, the entire theater and all the audience seats too that nobody else can get a word in edge wise. Not everyone has something to say all the time but everyone must be afforded the opportunity to contribute. That’s not a management style of decision by community, it’s just to say that as often as possible get everyone’s contribution.
Make a Decision
When in charge be in charge. That might come from the Marine Corp. among other places, but what it means is pretty powerful. When someone finds themselves in a an authoritative position be authoritative, everyone else depends on them to make a decision. Right or wrong doesn’t matter when faced with passivity. There are some folks out there that just try to get 40% of the decisions to be right, that way they only have to make two and a half more correct decisions about it. Sounds kind of crazy but it actually works and enables people to make decision. If you think you’re wrong? Hurry up and do it so you can find out it was wrong faster rather than hem and haw and not be sure if it’s right or wrong and never really be sure.
The Changing Of the Mind
Once a decision has been made stick to it follow it through. If you find that you’re only as good as the last person that you talk to find someone you respect and put them in the position to make these decisions. This doesn’t mean that you are an ineffectual leader, quite the contrary. When you give others the ability to make a decision you have expanded your team by conveying responsibility. Now you’re freed up to make decisions about things that you’re good at making decisions about. And yes everyone is happier.
Now there’s a decision what should be done with it? Sometimes a meeting ends and everyone goes back to their desk doing whatever it was they were doing before they got interrupted. This is often coined, “A Waste of Time”. Without creating clear direction, setting expectations, measuring results, and providing constant feedback . . . . that decisions was as effective as a passive shoulder shrug.
Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them by when and get an understanding if that’s even possible. Many times people will have a very convincing “That’ll take me 2 weeks.” Everything for them is 2 weeks. They might be really good at doing the job but they might be terrible at figured out how long it will take to get done. Sounds weird I know but it happens. It’s important to understand that they don’t know how long it will take. In most cases they haven’t done it yet. So it might take some extra time or personal attention to get to the bottom of how long something might take. At the end of the discussion everyone has to walk away know what has to be done when.
Communicate By Doing
There will be times when an idea is just so unique and never been done before. . . or it just sounds hard *sigh* and nobody want’s to get off the couch. So what’s a team member to do? Start by doing, demonstrate through your actions what people should be doing. What ever it is grab a hold of it and show people by you walking through the steps and then you take them through the steps. Sometimes a simple walk thorough is all anyone needs to get something started.
Play your position well
It’s pretty clear when the kicker messes up. It doesn’t go between the uprights. When the quarterback throws the ball and nobody was there, well the receiver for whatever reason couldn’t get there. There are projects were a person is a developer and then the next project they are a project manager or a business analyst then maybe a quality person back to development. Whatever role you are in be in that role 100%. Nobody wants to hear excuses like, “Well normally I’m the _____ and I don’t know how to do this well” no need to apologize for your past. Figure out what you are going to do right now.
Help others when they aren’t playing their position well and let others help you when you aren’t in yours properly. Doesn’t mean anyone is going to get less of a reward because they have been corrected. In reality it means that everyone is going to be rewarded greater.
Not everyone is great at everything. Not everyone knows what the next steps are in their career. I have 25 years of profession experience and just when I thought there wasn’t something else I could do I made a few connections on linked in and met someone who showed me how I could get paid for my expertise in a capacity I had never fathomed before. Nobody knows where these lending hands come from, but be ready for them. Additionally lend people a hand. We are all humans and we are competing, very effectively, with all the other species on the planet. Just because we are doing well eight now doesn’t mean we should stop getting better. Be ever ready to lend and receive advice.
As always be sure to deliver the advice in the most attractive manner possible and it doesn’t hurt to make sure the receiving party is ready to receive it. When someone offends you, ask yourself, “Hey? Is this help disguised as an insult?”
Honesty is a common running thread through out this entire character. When something can’t be done as planned or as expected communicate it. When you hear something that isn’t going to be done as planned or expected it’s not entirely necessary to fly off the handle or demonstrate ones ability to become furious. Remember that people are in a mosaic, in a larger picture, and sometimes they can’t see beyond the tile they are currently looking at. Sometime all that is necessary is to gain an understanding how firm this obstacle is. It’s not necessary to rip someone’s head off, but it is necessary to know that things will happen and provided a good environment most people want to do and please rather than be unpleasant and not do.
By having a sans-punitive environment people will be more forth coming with contentions that would be detrimental to a project sooner. And that’s always a good thing.
Recognize the Best Effort
People on a team have a wide and varied back ground and experience levels. It does absolutely no good to beat up Bill because he didn’t do it as good as Todd could have when Bill’s experience pales in comparison to Todd. Recognize people for the contributions subjectively and honestly. People know, or should know, where they are lacking. As always communication is key.
Hunger For Learning
One of the definitions living is a capacity to grow. For us humans that includes learning. If you are a point where you don’t want to learn anything new and you defiantly don’t want to teach anyone anything . . . go home, go away, get on a different project or do something else because you’re probably miserable. Go find your passion. If you’re this person you are making everyone else around you miserable too. Go find what you like to do. Life is too short to be doing stuff you don’t want to be doing.
Finding yourself frustrated or stagnating is totally different. For things to change you have to change things. Maybe that includes teaching others. Maybe it means getting out of your comfort zone and taking on things that you normally wouldn’t take on. Sometimes it’s as simple as teaching someone else something you already know.
When someone has an intense emotion like enthusiasm or desire about something they are said to be passionate about it. Passion is an awesome thing harnessed correctly it can be used to do positive things like build bridges or it can be used in destructive ways like wars. Team members who align their passions to meet a common goal are undeterred. Talented people become talented because they are or at one point were passionate about that thing that are talented at. Understand what your passion is and passions of others around you. Understand how they align and are a part of the common goal. leverage those passions around you to fuel your passions and make your skills better so that you can thrive in your discipline.
Until I was much older I thought discipline meant getting beat with a stick by whom ever was closest, but it also means a field of study. Being good at what you do doesn’t mean you have to be good at everything else. Be good at what you do and master it. Learn about the things that touch it. Understand how your discipline fits with in the greater scheme of things. Understand how the greater scheme of things affects your discipline.
What we’re looking for here is a consistency. The work that is done by each team member is reproducible regardless of the circumstances or impedances. Unless blame is the desired product of end result pointing fingers and generating excuses isn’t going to help anyone. Endeavor to produce quality regardless of the harsh environment.
Talents people are drawn to one another. Be willing to meet other people who have similar and dissimilar passions and drive. Be ever ready on team and off team to lend a helping hand. Understand how much time you are willing to invest in someone and be honest with them. They’ll be fine with it. They’ll be more fine with that than blowing them off.
Many times there are people who have reached the panicle of their career and they turn into a scoffing person who retorts with an attitude similar to, “How do you not know that ____”, or “if you had done the things I have done you would know that ____” if you find yourself turning into this person remember that you too learned this material and it’s not unlearnable by others. Because you act like an ass doesn’t mean that you know more as much as it means you are an obese challenge to work with. If you know everything and you treat people badly, know that someone one has told you once that you are going to suffer for it though lost opportunity.
People Matter Companies Don’t
Companies by themselves are just legal entities, without people to work at them they aren’t anything at all really. A company’s character is made up of the people that work there. Take care of the people and the companies will take care of themselves. It’s a small world out there often times a project manager in one project might be the developer on another project reporting to previously subordinate quality person. Maybe the situation is much dire and you need job and a previous team member knows of a place for you to work. Being a desirable team member is important and we get there through being honest and direct while being thoughtful.
Judging Yourself First
There’s been a lot of talk about giving advice and contributing to others, but before all that, let’s make sure to take a long hard look in the mirror and make sure we’re doing our part. Before we demonstrate the short comings of others let’s see if we can’t fill a gap or a void in the project with some minor adjustments from ourselves first.
Being Ever Optimistic
When you genuinely enjoy what you are doing it’s difficult to find yourself in a place where down about being able to accomplish something, but it does happen. Without being dishonest be optimistic. Optimism is contagious and if you ever are infected with it don’t fight it. A healthy dose of optimism is sometimes all that is needed to overcome fate, circumstances and all that other stuff.
Be that person you’d like to work with. Maybe you’ve never met that person, maybe you have to make up one, maybe the traits are spread over a few people. This by no means is a definitive list and has absolutely no scientific anything behind it. It’s just been my experience.