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

If Hans demands to know who's been sharing his comments, don't tell him! Just say "I'm telling you what I've noticed. If you'd like to know what other people have noticed, why not ask them?" If he really wants to know, this will train him to start finding out how he's perceived and cleaning up his act. 

Tip #2: Dissolve Cliques Immediately!

Heathers traveled in packs, just like Deb, the mean girl who yelled at my friend Jordan for making a mistake. She went right back to her mean girl friends who gave her high-fives and approval. When someone pointed out how upset Jordan was, they gathered together and said, "We're just telling the truth. It's not our fault if Jordan can't handle the truth."

This is clique behavior. The mean girls support each other in doing things that hurt other group members. In a team, it's everyone's responsibility to help everyone work better. That means it is the mean girls' responsibility to figure out how to communicate with Jordan. Cliques let part of the team turn against the rest of the team.

The MIT Musical Theater Guild has a policy that kills cliques dead. When they wrap up a show, they "kill" it. No one can talk about it or sing songs from it for one year. This makes the group welcoming for new members. Instead of feeling left out as old-timers talk about the recent show, everyone's attention is on making the current show a success. By the time a show is unkilled, the new members are fully part of the group and can enjoy listening without feeling left out.

To help combat cliques, don't keep the mean girls together. Mix and match responsibilities, and make sure everyone has a chance to work closely with everyone else. Shift the conversation from past projects not everyone was involved in, to how the team can work together to make the current project a win.

Tip #3: Ignore Insults

Mean girls love to insult people. They insult everyone. Deb insulted Jordan to his face, and Hans insulted people behind their backs. Other than making the mean girls feel superior, nothing good comes of insulting people.


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.