Working on a Team

March 16, 2017

Working_On_A_Team

There is a strong emphasis on the value of teamwork in Canadian workplaces.  The general belief is that a well-aligned team will always outperform random individual efforts.  The Canadian workplace is generally built around consensus on teams.  This means that the goal is to reach an agreement between members and that this agreement will form the main guidelines for any actions that are taken on specific work activities.  

How do I become a great team player?

We want to help you to find a welcoming home on your new team. They will be your new professional family and you should make a conscious effort to ‘fit in’, build rapport and trust as well as establish a great working relationship with your new team.

Here are three ways to integrate into a Canadian workplace team:

Be Curious

  • Drive conversations with questions
  • Find out what is important to your colleagues and team members
  • Show interest beyond work and build rapport with your new team

Someone who shows genuine interest in others and their ideas will make other team members feel noticed and valued.  Asking questions, especially in conversations, helps you to learn more about your team members and to demonstrate your interest in being part of the team.  By asking lots of questions, you will learn more about the dynamics of the workplace, the team and your role in the overall picture.  It is also a good idea to have friendly conversations with team members about their hobbies, interests and other topics.

Ask for Help

  • Ask for an explanation of the bigger picture to learn more about strategy and business goals
  • Respect the time of your colleagues, make sure that you ask for their time when it is convenient for them
  • You can ask for help without appearing helpless

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are starting on a team in a new workplace.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is an opportunity for you to learn and become a more valuable member of the team.  Make sure that you respect the time of your colleagues by scheduling a meeting in advance and not interrupting their work too often.  It can also be a good idea for you to ask for permission in advance to approach colleagues with questions if you run into any issues or have problems.  This makes it easier for you to approach them later.

Offer Your Skills

  • Share “What’s working well” and then you can add how it might be “Even better with” (WWW/EBW)
  • Be prepared to provide proof of concept
  • You should respect existing work processes, traditions or habits

Offering your skills, support and past experience can be a great way for you to start demonstrating your value to your new team.  However, you should tread carefully in how you do this so that you don’t appear to be disparaging of the work that has been done in the organization so far.  Following the “WWW/EBW” rule is a good idea when presenting your feedback and experience.  Here is an example: “Sue, I like where you are going with this document. I’m thinking it may be a bit more accurate if we add this piece of information. What do you think?”  This can be a respectful way to present your thoughts.  You should also be prepared to provide proof or examples of when the approach you’re suggesting has worked well in the past.  Finally, some work processes are established for certain reasons that you may not be aware of yet.  Ensure that you ask lots of questions and get the full picture before you start presenting new ideas.

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