Be a Productive Team Member
What does it take to be a productive team member? Does it mean you have to always have the right answers? Probably not; moreso you should be able to effectively ask the right questions. Here are my top favorite tips for being a productive member of your team:
1. Cut down on the back and forth
If you are seeking an answer, go one step towards the solution while asking your question. This will cut down on the amount of back and forth so everyone can get on their way quicker.
For example: If you are seeking someone’s time for a meeting, you should state it like “Hey, could I snag 30 minutes of your time? I’m free X day and Y day at X time and Y time.. I’ll send you a meeting invite for the slot you choose”. Or you could ask for a slot of time and use a handy scheduling app like Calendly so they can go in and choose a time that works for them.
When you format it like this, you cut down on the back and forth of “yeah, sure, what time works for you?” “These times work for me. What about you?”, etc.
2. Never come to the table with feedback without offering a solution
This does not mean it’s an open door policy for man-splaining, nor is it an opportunity to act like a know-it-all. It could be as easy as hearing a question and asking more in return to create a dialogue. This gives the question seeker a chance to think critically or team members to find a solution together.
Or perhaps you have a question about the scope of the project. Pose your question so there’s no ambiguity.
Developer: Hey, I don’t understand these wireframes.
Designer: What don’t you understand? It does blah, blah, blah.
Developer: No, I mean, this thing over here.
Designer: Oh, well you should have just said so. It does XYZ.
Developer: Thanks. (...and now I feel like an idiot for asking)
Developer: Hey, I don’t understand the flow on this feature. Is the interaction supposed to be like THIS or like THAT.
Designer: Sure thing. We were thinking it would do X, Y, Z. All clear now?
“Let me Google that for you”. Yup. Google has 99% of the answers, as long as you a) use it and b) know what you’re asking. It’s INCREDIBLE how many problems can be solved by doing a quick search. Chances are, you are not the first person who was wondering how to do what you’re trying to solve.
When I’m asked something I don’t know, I usually do a quick search then return with two to three links to various ways to solve the problem.
For example: I was once asked, “What’s the difference between reach and impressions”. Shame on me for assuming he knew the difference or would have asked months prior since I began using the terms. A quick google search of “impressions vs reach” would have saved us the hassle of emailing back and forth about it and the 6 hour lag time between his initial question and my response.
4. Teach someone
It’s like the old saying “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”. This is so true. It’s so much easier to take the reigns and knock something out quickly, but it’s far more rewarding to actually teach someone how to do the task. The best example of this was when a team member recently asked me to plug in his blog post content. I hadn’t ever done one by changing the HTML myself, nor did I know how to use the brackets and such. We chatted for a few minutes and off I went. It certainly took more time for us to talk about this and for me to get my bearings, but down the road it saves him time from having to input future posts and I learned a new skill. In the end, we both win!
What about you? Do you have any tips that have helped you become a more productive team member? Shout them @zaengle on twitter and we’ll get them added to this post!