How to Become a Successful Team Member

Just because a group of people is called a "team," doesn't make it one. Here's what you can do to become a strong team member

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #197

I just love teams! It's so much easier to do things with other people than it is to do them alone. At least it’s better when everyone agrees to work together. It's like the 1988 movie Heathers. Three mean girls named "Heather" rule the social scene at their high school with an iron fist. Their friend Veronica isn't sure the Heathers are a good thing for the world. Let's just say the teamwork breaks down, in a rather spectacular manner..

The problem is that the Heathers aren't team players. They're mean girls. In real life, "mean girls" aren't always girls, but they're always mean, and they make it hard to get things done. Here are some Quick and Dirty Tips for dealing with tough collaborators:

Tip #1: Combat Mean Girl Behavior

The mean girls in Heathers do, indeed, enjoy the consequences of their actions. It isn't pretty, and the audience cheers. In real life, mean girls often don't see the consequences of their actions. 

One of my mean girls is a guy who was telling people in the office, "Almost everyone who works here is stupid." He would then list the errors people had made, and roll his eyes when they gave an opinion. Soon everyone was making fun of him behind his back. He kept up his bad behavior, killed his own advancement prospects, and dragged the team into endless drama instead of endless getting-stuff-done. 

If you have a judgmental mean girl on your team, gently—very gently—give him or her feedback on the effects of this behavior. Don't sound blaming or judgmental. Just say what you've noticed. "Hans, I've noticed when you talk about how bad you find someone's work, their feelings can get hurt. It reflects badly on you and people don't want to work with you. You might want to find a nicer delivery, or keep your thoughts private." 


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.