As members of FIRST Robotics teams, knowing how to work well within a team is one of the most important skills we learn. Nothing we do on our teams is entirely individual, and the best solutions require collaboration. Even in the workforce, most projects are team projects. With that said, here are some of ways I’ve learned to be a good teammate:
- Don’t be a Dictator
- This is something I struggle with. I fall easily into leadership roles, and I’m also the type of person who likes things done certain ways. But over my years in FIRST, it has been incredibly important for me to learn how to lead without taking over. The difference between being a leader and a dictator is in your ability to listen and motivate your team members. I have had to learn how to listen to other ideas without dismissing them, and without assuming my own idea is the best. It’s a hard thing to do, but once you give your team members a chance to be heard, you give them a chance to share their cool ideas they might not have shared otherwise.
- Be Reliable
- This is pretty straightforward. You want to be someone your teammates can rely on. Follow through on your commitments, do what you say you’re going to do, and be present when you say you will.
- Ask for Help
- There are times you will take on more than you can chew. While it is important to try working outside of your comfort zone, it is also important to ask for help when you know you’ll need it. It stinks when someone takes on a project the team is depending on them for and then they can’t meet the deadline because they’ve been floundering by themselves. Ask for help early and often, especially if you’ve taken on a project you know you won’t have ready on time. Your team is there to help you!
- Commit to the Level you are Able
- This ties into reliability. Honor your commitments, and commit to the extent that you can. Keeping this in mind, try not to over commit, FIRST is only worthwhile if you enjoy what you’re doing. It’s important to understand what you and your teammates have outside of robotics. Everyone has school, some work, some have other extracurriculars, some have religious commitments, and everyone should leave time to take care of themselves. Try not to do too much, and try to understand why people on your team may not be able to do as much as you.
- Keep it Positive
- No one wants to work with Oscar the Grouch. People value working with people that are happy and motivated. Everyone has bad, stressful days, and that’s ok. But in the same way that one bad attitude can bring down the whole room, one positive attitude can brighten the whole room.
- Be OK with Failure
- Failure happens. It stinks, but it happens. Part of keeping a positive attitude is knowing when to take failure and run with it. Good teammates are those who are able to acknowledge when something doesn’t work as planned, and choose to see failure as a learning experience. There’s a lot to learn when something goes wrong, so look for ways to improve rather than getting dragged down by failure.
- This is one of the most important skills to learn. Because you are part of a team that will assume credit for all the work done by individuals within the team, your team should know what you’re doing. It may be easier and more efficient for you to work alone, but it’s not in the team’s best interest. Working without communicating your work can seem to your team that you’re uninterested or don’t trust the rest of your team to help you. Not only that, but you may not know if you’re even going down the right path.
This blog was written by anonymous. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.