18 Professional Goals That Will Make You a Better Teammate
Teamwork makes the dream work, so why not set professional goals that will make you a better teammate? It’s an underrated practice, but one that can leave a long-lasting positive impact on your team.
“No one does their work in a bubble. So, when setting professional goals, it’s important to not only think of what will help you, as an individual but also what will help your relationships with others,” says Ashley Andersen, partner and leadership coach at 10X Leadership Lab.” The way we interact and collaborate with others is deeply impactful to our outcomes at work.”
Added bonus: Impacting someone else’s experience in the workplace can be incredibly fulfilling and boost your own job satisfaction. Here are some great professional goals that make you a better collaborator and coworker.
1. Improve your ability to give and receive feedback
“Part of successfully working on a team is giving each other insightful feedback on performance, whether as a manager or a peer,” says executive and empowerment coach Smita Das Jain. “People respect those who provide honest and actionable feedback.”
Whether you’re in a leadership or more entry level role, the ability to both give and receive feedback is a key professional skill. Aim to be receptive and make the most of any feedback you receive, but also practice giving feedback in a way that’s straightforward, specific, and constructive.
2. Become a better listener
Das Jain recommends setting goals around becoming a better listener too. “The importance of active listening is often underrated in a professional team setting,” she says.
“One of the best gifts that we can give our colleagues is to make them feel heard and valued, which is only possible when we listen to them in an unhurried manner without [thinking of our response while they speak] or interrupting them with an eagerness to convey our thoughts.”
Improve your active listening skills and you’ll notice so much more team bonding and rapport.
3. Build your emotional vocabulary
Andersen suggests building your emotional literacy. Wondering what that means? It’s all about being aware of the range of emotions that exist and the way they impact your interactions at work.
“If you don’t understand how you respond or react to things like hurt, disappointment, anxiety, etc., chances are you’ll take it out on someone else around you. In my work, this type of goal is usually surprising to folks because there is a tendency (desire) to place emotions outside the realm of ‘what belongs at work,’” she says.
However, this tendency often backfires because we can’t change the fact that emotions are part of the human experience, whether at work or outside of it. Embrace them instead.
4. Learn and practice empathy
You may also want to set a goal to learn and practice true empathy. Showing up empathically for others is something that can quickly drive connection and boost productivity, helping your teammates feel seen and heard, says Andersen. But the opposite is also true, so you’ll want to treat empathy like a must-have skill, not just an abstract concept.
“People overestimate their skills and abilities when it comes to empathy and actually end up showing up in a way that does the opposite, shutting down others or minimizing what they’re experiencing,” she adds.
5. Create psychological safety
From demonstrating consistency between your words and actions to promoting open dialogue, various habits can create a sense of psychological safety in a team. However you go about achieving it, setting one of your professional goals to increase psychological safety is a great idea if you want to be a better teammate.
“This is often something that everyone looks to someone else to create. What the research says though, is that we all play a role in building psychological safety. And, if you’re a team leader, you play an even bigger role,” according to Andersen.
6. Master your project-management tool
Does your team use a project management platform such as Hive? Das Jain recommends mastering collaboration tools to become a better team player.
“Familiarizing yourself with new technology means you will be confident to use it, motivating other team members to emulate you and use it too. This will also bring more efficiencies within the team.” Not to mention you may get extra props and be seen as an expert!
7. Learn about other departments
Another powerful professional goal that can make you a better team player is gaining a deeper understanding of other teams and departments. This combats the tendency to operate in team silos and increases collaboration, says Das Jain. She recommends working towards that goal by taking the initiative to shadow a team that your team often works with.
8. Be resourceful
The more we practice empathy and listening skills the better we get at understanding people’s needs and aspirations. The result? We also expand our ability to help, leveling up our teamwork game. You can share that interesting article you read on newest trends in your industry with your colleagues at product & development, or let your team know about a great restaurant to take a client, or introduce people with the same type of interests.
Being sociable and resourceful may sound easy, but it doesn’t come natural to everyone. Proactively offering help can be seeing as a burden to some people. Remember: generosity can take you further.
9. Learn NLP
We are not talking about Natural Language Processing here, but Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). This technique offers great resources to anyone looking to improve their emotional intelligence. Being proficient in NLP helps to improve how we perceive the outside world or external influences and how we communicate our perception through the language we use. The words we choose can deeply affect behaviors. Want a practical example? Which teammate sounds more open for collaboration: the one who says “Don’t hesitate to reach out” or someone who announces “Feel free to reach out”?
10. Become inclusive of your references and language
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives go beyond hiring and training practices and include awareness of the daily interaction with people from different backgrounds, nationalities, languages and beliefs. When aspiring to become more inclusive with your language and references, you also become a better team player. It’s important to respect and understand each individual. Strive to use inclusive language and avoid references that can be alienating for people with different career paths and experiences.
11. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a moment to moment awareness of your thoughts, emotions, body and surroundings without judgment or rejection. A mindfulness practice at work can increase your personal wellbeing and help in the development of better focus and decision making. Mindfulness has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety while increasing flexibility which can help when we are working within a team. This practice is typically thought to be done on an individual level, but it can also be something done collectively (think of a yoga class).
When a collective mind is working together with a better understanding of its intended goals, the dynamics within the team can be transformed. Mindfulness invites the team to view challenges from fresh perspectives. Overall, the practice can influence any other professional goal and impact your performance beyond your career objectives.
12. Become adaptable and flexible
Let’s face it, change is often the norm. Evolving technologies and fast-paced industries were already driving our work landscape towards remote and hybrid work, but the pandemic forced us to adapt faster.
When we embrace new challenges and opportunities, with an open mind and positive attitude, we grow as a group. This approach during uncertain times, will not only build your resilience, but you will nurture the skills and experience needed to overcome challenges more effectively. Being aware of the role you play in a moment of crisis, can benefit the entire team.
Perhaps make small adjustments to your work style to better fit your teams’ needs, and be open to trying new approaches or methods when needed. Together we can help to create a more collaborative and effective team environment.
13. Take on leadership roles when necessary
Being able to take on leadership roles is a great way to support your team when the situation calls for it. This means having the ability to step up and guide a team when a manager might not be around. From delegating tasks and responsibilities to making difficult decisions these are all good attitudes if you aspire professional growth. The outcome of a project or task will depend on your guidance and this is a great opportunity to build strong relationships within your team.
By using effective communication and leading by example, you can create an environment where everyone feels valued, respected and heard. This will help foster a strong sense of teamwork and encourage everyone to work together to achieve common team goals.
14. Be Organized
A good teammate is organized and resourceful. How great would you feel if you knew exactly where things were the next time a colleague asked for a file or a particular document? Keeping your calendar up to date and even striving for a zero-inbox can also be part of your plan to become a better teammate. This will help you be a communicator and have a transparent workflow; an updated calendar makes it easier for your colleagues to know your meeting availability and gives you the peace of mind of knowing your priorities.
Pro-tip: If Hive is your project management software, take advantage of its collaboration features, such as Hive’s Calendar View and Action card labels to help organize your projects and categorize your actions for easy viewing.
15. Give credit to others and celebrate team successes
It’s important to recognize and celebrate the contributions of others to help build a positive team culture and promote collaboration and teamwork. You can recognize someone’s accomplishment through verbal recognition, written notes, public announcements, or other forms of appreciation. Similarly, you can celebrate your team’s successes by acknowledging the team’s collective accomplishments. Did they reach a major milestone, or complete a project on time and within budget? Did the department receive positive feedback from a client or customer? Take your team out, buy them a gift, or let them have a shorter week.
By giving credit to your teammates and celebrating their successes, you build trust and goodwill among your peers, improving collaboration, motivation, and engagement. It can also help promote a sense of shared ownership and accountability and an overall more positive and productive work environment.
16. Continuously Improve Your Technical Skills
In our fast-paced technological world, it’s fundamental to update and refine your technical know-how periodically. Whether it’s mastering the latest software relevant to your role, learning a programming language, or getting up to speed with the latest industry-specific technologies, advancing your technical skill-set can be game-changing in enhancing your value as a team member. Not only will it increase your ability to contribute meaningfully to your team, but it can also provide opportunities to assist and educate your teammates, nurturing a culture of learning and growth within the team. Not to mention, by being at the forefront of technological advancements, you are most likely to provide innovative solutions that could help drive your team toward their objectives.
17. Be respectful of others’ time
Being punctual for meetings and conscious of deadlines shows that you value your colleagues’ time as much as your own and inspires respect, efficiency, and teamwork. This consideration for time demonstrates your reliability and professionalism, which can lead to a more productive and efficient work environment. You will also be perceived as a leader and someone who can be trusted with more responsibilities, which is certainly aligned with your professional development goals. When everyone is on time, meetings and projects can proceed as scheduled, eliminating unnecessary delays and disruptions. Keep the meeting on-topic to make it time efficient. Pro-tip: Use Hive meeting agenda templates.
18. Be humble
Part of being a good teammate is participating in making the workspace a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their fears, mistakes and insecurities. When you make a mistake, be humble to admit it and remember. American poet and psychoanalyst Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés once wrote: “Don’t waste your time hating a failure. Failure is a greater teacher than success. Listen, learn, go on.”