Great vs. Exceptional Team Members: What’s the Difference?

HR is in the people-business. We know how important it is that not only our people have the skills to fill needs on a team, but that they’re all able to function as a cohesive group. We wanted to dig a little deeper, though, to see what the difference is between great team members (which are already awesome) and exceptional team members. Let’s start off by exploring characteristics of people who would be great on any team:

· Team player. Team players are motivated by team success. They’re more interested in seeing the team succeed than receiving personal credit. They also understand and fully buy into the team’s overall mission and respond positively when asked to help out another team member.

· Reliable. Reliable team members are always there when you need them. They keep commitments, attend meetings, and can be counted on to do assigned work. They’re also good at setting and keeping deadlines and communicate when flexibility or change is needed.

· Productive. Productive team members are using their time well. They’re not distracted easily and they’re able to focus on the work that needs to be done. In addition, they contribute to the team’s camaraderie but that doesn’t hurt their ability to get things done.

· Communicates. Team players have to be communicators, and their communication must be positive. They’re easy to talk to, they’re approachable, and they ask questions when they don’t understand something. They’re quick to give compliments and patient when frustrated. When confrontation arises, good communicators are thoughtful and do what they can to resolve the conflict, not create it.

· Knows the product. Team players truly believe in the product your company is offering. They know the product well and understand how it improves the lives of your customers. They stay up-to-date on changes and can help customers use each component to improve their lives.

· Adaptable. Adaptable team members handle change well. They understand that change is inevitable and are willing to be flexible. They work hard to support scalable processes but are patient and positive during transition times.

· Creative. Creative team members use innovation and a fresh perspective when tackling projects. They foster creativity by learning from work they admire, collaborating with others, and trying new things. They’re never satisfied with “good enough.”

· Fun. Other team members love being around fun team members and working with them. They make projects even more fun. They’re positive, enjoyable to be around, and always work hard. They give feedback, but it’s always in a constructive way. They don’t take things too seriously or create drama.

· Humble. Humble team members value feedback and direction. They learn from their mistakes and aren’t motivated by getting all the credit for themselves. They understand the team’s vision and prioritize work according to that vision, as well as company values.

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These are all amazing characteristics for team members to have. And it will make sure you have a great team. But let’s take it a step further. If you’re wanting a truly exceptional team, here are a couple more things your team members should be:

· Self-starter. When your team members are self-starters, they take initiative and don’t wait to be asked or told what to do. They anticipate needs and act to fill them proactively. They’re not afraid to try new things, are confident they can help, and enjoy taking on a challenge.

· Learner. These team members love to learn and grow and are always striving to master their craft. They take time to hone their skills and work hard to stay up-to-date on new techniques and technology. They study their craft through reading books, magazines, and online groups, then push themselves to apply what they learn. They also love to share what they learn with peers to help them grow as well.

· Problem solver. These problem solvers are great at coming up with and implementing solutions. They truly care and want the project to succeed. When they see a need—whatever it may be—they try to come up with ways to solve it and don’t care if it fits in their job role. They care more about fixing problems and will find ways to do it.

· Project manager. Team members who also manage their own projects avoid roadblocks and see projects through to the end. They’re willing to take charge and make sure all the “i”s are being dotted and “t”s are being crossed. They give regular progress updates to the team.

Whether you’re trying to hire great team members or are looking for ways to encourage your people to grow a little more and work together even better, you can have exceptional team members building your team up. And when all of your team members are doing these things, there’s no stopping what they can do!