The Independent Team Player

Photo 57 (2)Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The day when 13 colonies decided the team they had been a part of was no longer working for them, so they declared their independence and formed a new nation—The United States of America!

Today, most everyone enjoys the Fourth of July. We enjoy the patriotic colors and even the backyard barbeques despite intense Texas humidity. There is no escaping the allure of family, friends and large festive crowds gathering to shoot the breeze, listen to tunes and enjoy the sparkle of local fireworks. All that “togetherness” can make you forget completely about your own independence, which can be a good thing in today’s work world where total independence has been replaced by good old fashioned teamwork!

In interviews, employers will often ask if you prefer to work by yourself or with others. Although employers love independent thinkers and doers, they also admire team players. When asked whether you prefer teams or working independently, make sure to say both, and have examples to demonstrate this. Flexibility will be the impression you leave behind.

There are advantages and disadvantages to working as part of a team. Though I can’t name them all, here are a few of my favorite reasons for wanting to work as part of a team:

When working with teams you most often experience collaborations of diversity, ethnicity, viewpoints and best of all, experiences! This alone is reason to celebrate the whole idea of “team spirit!” Just think of the knowledge, skills and abilities that come together in one creatively focused team.

Strengths are heightened whenever a team member gets “stuck” in the idea department. A quick pow-wow with your team members and your part in the overall solution may quickly be made clear. Team members assist when ideas or thoughts get bogged down, and new ideas become much more plentiful. Solutions are created with opportunity to choose the best of the best, thereby achieving the overall goal.

When you work independently, you work alone. While in many instances this may be the desired outcome, win or lose, it’s quite literally all on you! You bounce ideas off of no one but yourself! You are both judge and juror. You may overthink everything and find that the cost of this much independence can be overwhelming.

As you celebrate America’s independence this year, remember that it took a team of 13 colonies to achieve independence! A well-rounded employee can maintain independent focus and fully commit to the goals of the team.

Frieda Carmouche is a member of the Regional Navigator team specializing in training, educating and assisting employers, and career center staff throughout the Gulf Coast with community resources, outreach events and technical support in assisting job seekers with disabilities. A native Houstonian with a love of training and development, Frieda has been employed by Workforce Solutions for over 16 years.

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