I grew up playing sports. Team sports to be precise. I have always been part of a team, joining a team, leading a team, or coaching a team. This has taught me to look at every situation as a team situation.
I am a good team mate because I am constantly aware of— and reminding myself that, I am part of a team. I am a bad team mate because I have lofty personal goals and am working hard to achieve personal success in addition to team success. I am a good team mate because I offer to take on additional work and to assist with projects. I am a bad team mate because I often will not speak up when frustrated with group antics. And as far as being part of a team goes, these things I know:
Sometimes, you just won’t/can’t/don’t know the whole story…
Already this year, I had surgery, lost a good friend fighting overseas, broke up with someone, was in a fender bender, was dealing with an uncomfortable situation in general, have dealt with intense family drama, and, I’m sure, a hundred more personal situations that I brought with me to my team. We are not friends, but colleagues. We do not ask, we do not tell. We deal. Like it or not, this does affect the team environment.
Sometimes, no one will know how much effort you’re putting in.
As a team mate, I always want people to know what projects are on my plate and what my bandwidth looks like. I want their input and will seek it at appropriate times. I want them to know for many reasons, but mostly, I want them to know because I want them to help when and where they can. I am not an expert, I work with people who are. Sometimes I think about my soccer teams growing up and the extra practices, the special camps, the strength and conditioning training, and the extra long runs I would put in to prepare for a season… perhaps at times I simply want the people around me to know that there is more they can do but they do not have to. There is always more you can do, but you don’t have to.
You do not pick your team mates, ever. Even if you thought you did.
There is actually an insightful quote from Grey’s Anatomy where the character of Alex Karev defends his actions by referencing team dynamics.
"Let’s say you were drafted to a team that wasn’t your first pick. You know, you don’t like the players. You hate the way they play the game. You even think the quarterback is full of crap. The quarterback’s a pain in the ass you don’t owe a damned thing to. But it’s your team. You don’t quit. You don’t talk to the press. You don’t bitch to the coach. You just, you just go out there every Sunday and you make the blocks and you take the hits and you, you play to win. You show up and you suit up and you play, because it’s your freaking team."
In short— you don’t pick your team mates, but you don’t let people pick on them either. You defend them, you defend their work, because it’s your freaking team.