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For the Managewhich and Business Owner: Who’s a Team Player?

Photo by Joseph Shemuel

Photo by Joseph Shemuel

Team Player is one of those phrases that we all assume we have the same definition for.  It’s one of the performance management buzz-phrases that shows on reviews and on job descriptions.  And, we all think we know what it means, but do we?

I was watching a video the other day of Pat Heim talking about gender differences in leadership.  Thank you Marsh Clark (another awesome coach) for bringing it to our networking group.  It reminded me that not only do we have definition differences based on gender, we also have them based on culture and our own personal experience.

How many times have you witnessed an argument in which both people were actually arguing on the same side?  Often, the culpret is misunderstanding of the other person’s meaning of the word.

So, team player.  What does that mean to you?

To me, it means that we all work collaboratively together in support of one another and individually on our contributions to benefit the success of the whole.  I was SHOCKED to find out that it didn’t mean the same thing to other people.  Who knew?

So, one of the other definitions I heard of a team player is someone who knows her place on the team and what role she plays, and delivers in that position.  How interesting!  It’s like we’re all on a soccer team, or something.

You can see how these differences could create misunderstanding or frustration.  As someone on a team, it would infuriate me when individuals worked singlemindedly on their piece of the pie without regard to the success of the whole.  In retrospect, they may have been operating on their own understanding of what a “team player” is (and I’m willing to concede that they may not all have been self-consumed jerks).

So, in an interview, in goal-setting, in performance reviews, and in any other place where a well-known term like “team player” or “work-life balance” or “excellent communicator” is used, ask the question:  “What does this mean to you?”  It could save you an argument, a negotiation, a job…

Be Your Best You Today,

Carolann Jacobs

p.s – Thank you, anonumous client, for participating with me in the conversation that reminded me of this.  (My clients kick a$$ and take names.)

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