Teamwork in the world of IT has always been important. Even the most brilliant technologists had to rely on the support of groups to execute on their visions. With the rapid emergence of new technologies around data, the cloud, mobility, and more, - and the degree of specialization required to really understand and apply these technologies, the ability to bring together the skills necessary to attain an organization’s objectives remains critical. How does one decide whether an individual who has the needed depth of technical knowledge will be an effective team member? 

Luckily, identifying people who will make good team members is more science than art. Good team members share a number of characteristics that managers can assess to make decisions about whether or not someone is well suited to a team effort. Most of these you probably know – or suspect – but here is a brief recounting:

  • Obviously, you want someone with a history of doing what they say they’re going to do – when they say they’re going to do it. If they can’t keep commitments, they’re poor teammates and they might end up souring the remainder of the team.
  • Good communication is important – from both sides – someone who is a good listener and yet who will speak their mind – diplomatically.
  • They need to be open with information and not have an agenda to use the team for their own purposes. This doesn’t mean that they’re not aggressive or discount the value of what team success might do for their careers – it means that they aren’t Machiavellian in their attitude to the team and its output.
  • Someone who will be active – who will volunteer to take on activities and not sit back and watch. They care enough about the team and its work to be engaged in moving things forward.
  • They have to play well with others in how they give and receive criticism and in how they show respect for teammates’ opinions that might not coincide with their own.
  • They know their strengths and their weaknesses – and know how to apply their strengths to help the team attain its goals.

If teams are only going to grow in importance, an important skill for IT managers will be to understand the nature of teams and how to assess a job candidate’s or current employee’s fitness for teamwork.