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Win for your team—and yourself

Boost your own interests while remaining a team player

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by on
in Workplace Communication

Readers often ask us how they can make the most of their participation on a team.

Here’s how to maximize your role as a team player without sacrificing your self-interest:

Document your ideas. If someone has been stealing credit for your contributions, propose ideas in writing first. Send memos to key contacts (your boss, the team leader, other department heads who’re involved) describing your proposal and asking them to provide facts, figures, insights. That way, you’re not just bragging on paper —you’re also soliciting their input.

Send this memo a day or two before a team meeting where you present your idea to the group. Tell the team that while you’re still researching pending issues and gathering facts from other execs, you’re eager to get the group’s feedback before moving on.

Cut deals. Anticipate political skirmishes and prepare to win them. Wield leverage over influential team members by agreeing to advance their cause in exchange for their support for your plans. Anticipate dissenters and curry favor with them by sincerely siding with at least some of their views.

And attend every meeting. If you miss gatherings, you may get stuck with busywork or lose a chance to lend your expertise. Don’t join a team unless you can commit to showing up.

Meanwhile, keep your boss informed of the team’s progress. Earn trust by providing a balanced play-by-play of who’s chipping in and who’s slacking off. Build your credibility by praising some teammates; don’t just criticize the loafers. Positioning yourself as a fair judge of team talent can help secure your role as a conduit of fair, unbiased information.

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