Elusive Team Player ‘Unicorns’ Hard To Find? Look For These 6 Qualities

No matter how good (or scary) the word “team player” sounds to you it’s important to realize why you need them and how to practically spot these elusive...

Photo: Alex Devero, Prague-based web designer and developer, Co-founder of Worknb; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Alex Devero, Prague-based web designer and developer, Co-founder of Worknb; Source: Courtesy Photo

What top qualities do you look for when searching for a team player? Understanding this will help you with future staffing plans and can lower your chance of hiring someone who is not the right fit.


Finding Team Players

When you think of a person who plays or works well as a member of a team or group you automatically think about sports. If you participate in a team sport, you are more likely to be a team player, right? Well, not exactly.

Even though you’ll find team players in sports, there are a lot of other people who are also great at working in groups. They may not like playing sports, but they do invest time into other things they deem meaningful. Team players exist outside of the world of sports.

As you grow your company, you’ll want to hire team players that represent your company culture. Here are six qualities you should look for:


  1. Team Players Are Reliable

    When you do find a team player, on or off the field, the first trait to look for is reliability. Consider your own team participation? If your team cannot rely on you, why are you there? My definition of a great team player is a person who keeps their word. If he or she says something, you can be certain he or she can and will deliver on that promise to the best of their ability.

  2. Team Players Communicate

    Communication is the starting point, but can you communicate constructively? Can you express thoughts and ideas clearly, honestly, directly and with respect for others? A team player will not conceal something because it is bad or differs in opinion. Good or bad, if it needs to be said, a team player will say it. When pointing out a mistake, a team player will do it in positive manner (with respect and probably in private). More importantly, a team player knows to suggest a solution to fix the mistake without need for recognition.

  3. A Team Player Listens

    Communication is a two way street. One person is speaking while another is listening. A good communicator (and team player) must actively listen. This means being one hundred percent present in the moment and fully focused on the speaker. You are not thinking about dinner or your next meeting. You are listening and absorbing the message, so you can follow-up later with questions, suggestions or information related to the conversation.

  4. A Team Player Participates

    Look for people actively participating – these people are more than likely team players (or seeking to become one). This can be as simple as someone sharing ideas, opinions or coming up with alternative options. It can also be someone giving their feedback. For a team player it is natural, when part of a group, to be active contributor. A team player is confident that their ideas can help the team and the push progress forward. Cooperation is natural and more of a please than a pain.

  5. A Team Player Is Committed

    A team player is committed to the team, vision and goals. Most importantly they authentically care. This allows a team player to help others and keep going through hard times. When someone is committed they deliver their best performance on the regular basis, not just sporadically. They also expect the same from other team members as well.

  6. A Team Player Respects Others

    Someone who plays well with others also treats colleagues as equals. No one is put on a pedestal or criticized; everyone has value. A team player will encourage colleagues and seek out similarities while respecting differences.


The Right ‘Team’ Fit?

Every startup is looking for a great team player: someone who exhibits the qualities listed (and would likely tattoo your brand name on their arm, now that’s dedication!)


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