The One Thing You Need To Be A Team Player

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Mike A’s earlier post on being useful, Thomas the Tank Engine on Software Requirements, brought to mind thoughts I’ve had about what it means to be a team player. What Mike defines as being useful, I consider a top characteristic of a team player—doing what is best for the team to succeed on the project.
Do a search on the topic “Team Player” and you’ll find a lot of articles about the characteristics of a good team player or how to be one. But, you won’t find much about the objectives of a team player. It’s one of the classic requirements problems: lots of strategies and solutions, but no one is stating the goal.
Understanding the goal is important, for example:
  • I’ve worked with people who defined the objective as making everyone happy. Unfortunately, “happy” is sometimes a short-term thing. What makes people happy now, may make them very unhappy later, if the happiness comes at the expense of unnecessary work or a less successful project.
  • There are also the well-intentioned people who work very hard to do their best, who end up unthinkingly maximizing their own performance at the expense of the team as a whole.

My objective as a team player is to do what I can to maximize the performance of the team to meet the goals of the team. The “Team Player” search results provide a lot of strategies for doing that. I think being useful is one of the best.Oh, and, as Mike implied, eating your vegetables usually won’t make the top 10; but, that’s no reason not to eat them.

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