The scene from the recess playground is burned in my brain. The captains are choosing teams for dodgeball, and my friends and I are standing in a line, nervously shifting from one foot to the other. No one wants to be the last one picked.
Most of the time, I was lucky enough to be selected near the middle of the pack, and at the time, I didn’t think there was anything I could do to control the outcome. Now, however, I know that when working in business, there are indeed ways I can be the team member that everyone wants. For example, I can:
Be good at my job
Co-workers like a team member who is recognized to be the best or most knowledgeable in a particular area. I’m always reading and taking training courses so that I’m ahead of the curve in an industry that moves at the speed of the Internet.
Be well networked
People want to work with those who will make the task at hand easier because they understand who needs to be contacted, how resources can be procured, and how approvals can be obtained more quickly.
Be a problem-solver
People don’t want to listen to complainers who constantly lament the team’s unfortunate circumstances. They want an action-oriented member who brings a solution to the table, or at least motivates the group to devise one.
Be willing to get my hands dirty
Having too much ego, or thinking I’m above certain tasks, is a fast way to alienate co-workers. Colleagues want a team member who will pitch in and help out with whatever needs to be done, regardless of official responsibility, and who fulfills her obligations even when it means staying late.
Popular team members are pleasant to be around even during times of stress. They listen to all points of view even when they don’t agree and are diplomatic in resolving disagreements. They ask appropriate personal questions to show that they’re interested in their fellow team members, but don’t engage in conversation that makes others uncomfortable.