10 Tips for Being a Productive Member of a Team/Committee
You have probably been asked to serve on a committee or team. When possible it is important to choose those teams wisely. (There are times when your manager appoints you to a team and you are not given a choice.) Being a team player can give you visibility and credibility but if you choose the wrong team or work with a less than productive group you will lose the benefits. How do you decide which team/committee to serve on and then how do you make sure that team is very successful? Here are some ideas:
- Critical Path or Personal Passion – Be sure the goal of the team is directly connected to the bottom line of the firm and/or is a focus of your own personal passion. You will need to have energy around the mission of the team and you will want the organization to be supportive of the findings of the team.
- Appropriate work for a Team? – Decide if the work can only be done by a team. If the work would be better accomplished by one or two people making a decision then don’t waste your time. You’ll be spinning your wheels on something that could be done faster with fewer people involved.
- Mission of the Team – Ask about the mission of the team and what outcomes are expected. Get clarification if you don’t understand it. The team can’t do its work if the mission isn’t clear. Make sure everyone on the team understands the mission too.
- Benefit – Look to see if being on this team will benefit you in some way. Perhaps it will add a skill to your resume. It might be a visible team and add to your standing in the firm or community. It could put you in contact with someone that you want to know better.
- Expertise Needed? – Be sure your expertise is required by the team. If you feel that there is a more qualified person, give the leader the name of the person who you think has that expertise. If possible, decline to work on teams that don’t seem to need your specific talent. This work should be a showcase for what you are uniquely qualified to do or the specific value that you add to the team.
- Other Members – Ask about the other members and what skills they bring to the table. Discuss adding people who have skills you see are missing and are needed to accomplish the mission.
- Quiet Members – Notice who the quiet members of the team are. Help those people to be heard by asking their opinions and asking them to repeat their comments if their voices are soft and not easily heard by others. Find ways to help them participate.
- Stay on track and focused – The team needs to keep to its timeline and within its budget. Complete your own work in the agreed upon time frame and budget and help others to do the same. Offer support to anyone who may make the team miss a deadline.
- Team Decisions – Make sure that everyone is comfortable with the decisions that are made each step of the way. Nothing is worse than completing the task and finding that someone disagreed with something done in the very beginning of the work.
- Ease tension – There are often tense situations that come from teamwork. Not everyone agrees all the time. Find ways to actively listen to someone else’s point of view. Help by restating their ideas for the group if some people don’t understand it. Make sure everyone understands all sides of the issue. Find ways to defuse the situation. Take a break when things get hot. Use humor to release tension.
Many of the ideas from this list are mentioned in the book How to Be a Star at Work Robert E. Kelley. Kelley has done research on how star performers work. Published in 1999 it still has ideas of value to professionals in a firm setting and employees in a corporation. This book can be found on Amazon.
Want to be a top team member?
Whether you are difficulty deciding whether to join a team or not or you find yourself on a team that isn’t working well, a coach can help you think through your situation and find your own solution. Coaches don’t tell you what to do. Coaches help you to uncover what would work best for you. If I can be of help to you in a work situation, just call or email me to set up a complimentary coaching session. It will give us each the opportunity to evaluate if we can work well together. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my telephone number is 781-598-0388.