You have probably been asked to serve on a committee or team. When possible it is important to choose those teams wisely. (There are times when your manager appoints you to a team and you are not given a choice.) Being a team player can give you visibility and credibility but if you choose the wrong team or work with a less than productive group you will lose the benefits. How do you decide which committee to serve on and then how do you make sure that team is very successful? Here are some ideas:
1.Critical Path or Personal Passion – Be sure the goal of the team is directly connected to the bottom line of the firm or is a focus of your own personal passion. You will need to have energy around the mission of the team and you will want the organization to be supportive of the findings of the team.
2. Appropriate work for a Team – Decide if the work can only be done by a team. If the work would be better accomplished by one or two people making a decision then don’t waste your time. You’ll be spinning your wheels on something that could be done faster with fewer people involved.
3. Mission of the Team – Ask about the mission of the team and what outcomes are expected. Get clarification if you don’t understand it. The team can’t do its work if the mission isn’t clear.
4. Benefit – Look to see if being on this team will benefit you in some way. Perhaps it will add a skill to your resume. It might be a visible team and add to your standing in the firm or community. It could put you in contact with someone that you want to know better.
5. Expertise Needed – Be sure your expertise is required by the team. If you feel that there is a more qualified person, give the leader the name of the person who you think has that expertise. If possible decline to work on teams that don’t seem to need your specific talent. This work should be a showcase for what you are uniquely qualified to do.
6. Other Members – Ask about the other members and what skills they bring to the table. Discuss adding people who have skills you see are missing.
7. Quiet Members – Notice who the quiet members of the team are. Help those people to be heard by asking them to repeat their comments or by asking their opinions on something. Find ways to help them participate.
8. Stay on track and focused – The team needs to keep to its timeline and within its budget. Complete your own work in the agreed upon time frame and budget and help others to do the same. Offer support to anyone who may make the team miss a deadline.
9. Team Decisions – Make sure that everyone is comfortable with the decisions that are made each step of the way. Nothing is worse than completing the task and finding that someone disagreed with something done in the very beginning of the work.
10. Ease tension – There are often tense situations that come from teamwork. Not everyone agrees all the time. Find ways to actively listen to someone else’s point of view. Help to restate it for the group if some people don’t understand it. Make sure everyone understands all sides of the issue. Take a break when things get hot. Use humor to release tension.
Many of the ideas from this list are mentioned in the book How to Be a Star at Work Robert E. Kelley. Kelley has done research on how star performers work. This book would be useful to associates in a law firm or employees in a corporation.
About Alvah Parker
Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor for attorneys and Career Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. To subscribe send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parker works with successful attorneys who feel overwhelmed by their work and are willing to take action to create a more profitable practice and a more fulfilling life. Alvah also helps attorneys and others who want to change careers and find the work that is more meaningful and fulfilling. Alvah is found on the web at http://www.asparker.com She may also be reached at 781-598-0388
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