How to Be a Better Coworker in 7 Easy Steps

By Robert Half on May 27, 2015 at 1:39pm

Everyone has something to say about the annoying habits of a coworker — or how another employee just doesn't understand teamwork. You can’t always change the behavior of these folks, but you can avoid displaying annoying habits yourself.

Attempting to be a better coworker shows you’re a real team player. Here are seven tips to help you:

1. Make every day Coworker Appreciation Day

Balloons and flowers might be going overboard. But part of being a good coworker is giving credit where it’s due. Thank your colleagues when they help you out, and if your boss praises your work on a project, be sure to acknowledge the teamwork that made your success possible.

Discover more advice, resources and training that can enhance your job performance — and your career opportunities.

2. Respect everyone’s time

Show up early for meetings, and do what you can to help them move along efficiently. For instance, if your questions would be irrelevant to other employees, ask them later in private. But outside of meetings, respond as quickly as possible to a pressing message or an important email.

3. Tread lightly with gossip

On one hand, joining in light conversation about workplace activities can help you forge a bond with others. But on the other, participating in office gossip may make you appear untrustworthy — or even fuel conflict. If you sense that rumors are moving into uncomfortable territory, either excuse yourself or change the subject.

4. Check your noise level

Keeping your noise level down is especially important if you work in a cubicle or an open office. To improve teamwork, consider whether you ever engage in these annoying habits:

  • Is your phone or computer set to a loud volume for rings and alerts?
  • Do your colleagues all know that you enjoy listening to Katy Perry while filing reports?
  • Can everyone hear your side of phone conversations?
  • Worse, do you use speakerphone?

Keep in mind that these types of noises can be distracting — and highly irritating — to coworkers.

5. Keep it clean

Make sure you do your part to keep the office organized and sanitary, including your desk. When you're in the break room, the lunch area or the employee restroom, don’t make others pick up after you.

6. Offer to help whenever possible

Being a team player means going beyond simply completing your regular tasks. If you see a coworker struggling with a deadline or stuck on a particular problem, do what you can to help. Your colleagues will appreciate the effort — and they’ll be more likely to return favors when you need them.

7. Reach out to new colleagues

What better way to create an atmosphere of teamwork than by supporting the team's newest members? From volunteering to mentor to simply taking them out for a cup of coffee, there are many ways to welcome new employees and boost team morale.

You may sometimes wish you had a magic wand to eliminate your colleagues’ annoying habits. Although that’s not possible, you do have the power to change your own attitude and habits for the better. By setting a positive example, you contribute to better teamwork, and your efforts to be a team player may inspire others as well.  

What tips do you have on being a better coworker? Share your advice in the comments.

More tips for being a team player

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