With Us or Against Us?
Do your coworkers consider you a productive team player—or an annoying bottleneck in the workflow process?
You may find this a hard question to face, but unflinching self-honesty is essential to maximizing your personal success. So no matter how helpful you believe you are, take the time every once in a while to review your workplace productivity through the eyes of your teammates. Never forget: your work represents part of a group effort that requires everyone involved to pull in the same direction. You may very well pull harder than anyone else on the team…but if you pull the wrong way, you’re hurting, not helping.
If you can’t determine your productivity status at a glance, then ask yourself these seven questions—and answer them truthfully.
1. How much do I really get done each day? Just because you’ve been busy doesn’t mean you’ve been productive. Fifty minor accomplishments may not matter as much as two major ones.
2. Do my productivity goals align with my team’s goals? Do you spend your time solving the right problems and moving the team forward? If you can’t remember your team goals or never bothered to learn them, then you’ve probably drifted off the beam.
3. Do I complete my work promptly and efficiently? Some of your teammates probably depend on your output to get their own work done. Be brutally honest with yourself: do you ever slow or block your team’s workflow? Are you late for deadlines or provide your input well ahead of the requested date?
4. Am I a team player? We Americans pride ourselves on our rugged individualism. However, at work, the group often takes priority over personal desires.
5. Do I support my teammates when they need help? Do you pitch in and assist when someone waves the white flag, even if it’s “not your job”? Or do you sit in splendid isolation and ignore problems elsewhere in the team structure?
6. Do I accept direction well? Can you accept instructions on how to approach a task or others’ recommendations? Or do you go your own way, not caring whether or not that weakens the overall team effort?
7. Am I committed to a productive workflow process? Do you constantly look for ways to improve a process and your contributions to it? Being a team player means you try to maximize your team’s workplace productivity. So either you’re working with the team or against it—simple as that.
If you give it some thought, you can surely add other questions to the self-examination outlined above, and don’t hesitate to ask them of yourself. Stop occasionally and ask yourself whether you’ve been doing your productive best for the team lately. If you can honestly say you have, then keep up the good work. If not, consult your supervisor to determine what he or she thinks you need to work on. I realize you may not want to do this, for fear of what you might discover. But your teammates count on your contributions to the collective effort. You can’t let them down…or you may not have a collective effort to contribute to for much longer.