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I hope this blog is occasionally read by team members as well as project managers. Maybe you’re a team leader trying to figure out your project manager. Maybe you have a special interest in team dynamics and team management. Maybe you’re just nosy. Maybe your project manager was so inspired by one of my posts it’s been tacked on the notice board!

Anyway, in my opinion, the team is critical to the success of any project – if you want to have an effective team (or be an effective team member) here’s what you should be looking for:

1) Confident, Not Arrogant

Pride may cometh before the fall, but only if it’s undeserved arrogance, not well-deserved confidence. A confident team member speaks their mind, but lets others voice their opinions too, and either agree, or calmly and rationally disagree. Either way, confidence is an asset to any team.

2) Gets Involved

Project work isn’t a nine-to-five, clock-in, clock-out job, and it doesn’t mean coming to work, doing your bit of work and going home. An effective team member is interested in the project as a whole, and is willing to work outside their little niche.

3) Good Communicator

The fact that no one understands you doesn’t mean you’re an artist.” Unknown – I love this quote because so many excellent programmers are lousy communicators. However, projects cannot succeed without good communication, and a team than can’t communicate is not effective. And don’t forget the other half of communication – listening. Effective team members don’t just talk, they pay attention to what others have to say too.

4) Responsible

A good team member is responsible. They take responsibility for their actions, mistakes and successes. If they say something will get done, it gets done OR they let their manager know there’s a problem before it becomes a crisis.

5) Loyal

Good team members are loyal to their team, their manager and their customers. This isn’t aways easy, as interests between these groups are often conflicted, but a sense of loyalty is an essential part of being an effective team member.

6) Plays Nicely With Others

The most brilliant employee is pretty much useless in a team environment unless they work as a part of that team. There’s no room for isolationists or prima donnas in an effective team.

7) Flexible

In even the most tightly controlled project, things change, and teams need to roll with those changes. If you want to be an effective team member, you need to cope with change.

8) Supportive

Your project manager and your fellow team members all need your support – and in turn, you need their support. This doesn’t mean agreeing with everything that’s said and done – on the contrary, it means putting forth rational and reasonable arguments when you disagree, remembering point 6.

9) Goes for the Win-Win

Effective team members – and this includes project managers and team leaders – don’t go for an individual win at the expense of the team or the project. Teams work much better and projects are more successful if there’s consensus rather than winners and losers.

10) Sense of Humor

And finally, my favorite trait in any coworker – a sense of humor. Humor can get you through the toughest times ,and can help you get along with the toughest adversaries. If you cultivate no other trait, work on your sense of humor.

If you’re a team member, cultivate these “soft skills”. If you’re a project manager, these are some of the skills you want in your team. Hard skills are great, but they aren’t enough to have successful projects. (And people without a sense of humor aren’t much fun to work with!)