There are people who are on working teams who habitually say things like they are willing to “help” but don’t ever seem to take primary responsibility for the work. These people really bother me, probably because they are the professional version of the fathers* who offer to “babysit” their own kids. Fathers: You do not ‘babysit’ your own kids, rather, you ‘parent’ them. You ‘take care of’ them. You can ‘watch them’ if you must. Likewise, teammates: You are not there to ‘help out,’ rather, you are there to do the work.
Ironically, I found myself guilty of almost the same thing and I want to be explicit about it so that I don’t make the same mistake twice. I kept telling my colleagues that I had skills and knowledge in a specific area, but waited for them to suggest ways in which I might put those skills and knowledge to work for the team. Although probably not the worst offense for someone new to a position, it wears thin once you’ve settled in.
A valuable team member knows their skillsets and social capital and they look for ways to put them to work. They do their part to make the team great. They own their place at the table rather than waiting to be called in as if they are an extra set of hands. It’s really about attitude more than anything else.
Featured Image: Filip Mroz, unsplash.com
*I acknowledge the gendered-ness of my extremely anecdotal statement. I can honestly say I’ve never heard a mother say she is babysitting her own kids. I acknowledge that my experience may not represent anyone else’s experience.