4 Ways to Be a Team Player But Still Get Ahead at Work

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: February 26, 2014

You Can Do Both

Whether you’re joining a staff of twenty or just two, it’s simply expected that you will act as a team player when you’re hired. And for the most part, you don’t mind working with others—as long as you are also able to be independent. The thing is, sometimes it’s hard to keep your independent working style when you’re forced to work in a group. Here are some ways to join the team—but still be true to yourself and get ahead at work.

4. Respectfully Voice Your Opinions

It can be easy to lose your train of thought -- as well as your voice -- when you are in a meeting filled with loud opinions. So find that fine line between listening and being an authoritative voice.

By listening to and participating in the conversation by adding your own comments and suggestions, you will be both a team player and also be able to have your own voice heard. And respected.

3. Strategically Take the Lead

Blind ambition within a team-first company probably won't get you where you want to be, so find a middle ground.

Let’s say your boss mentions during a conference call that he wants to launch a new initiative within the next few months. If the project sounds like it’s right up your alley, you should volunteer to take charge. As the leader of the team, it gives you the opportunity to work closely with your colleagues, but on your terms.

2. Create Boundaries

As much as you want to be a team player, sometimes you need to focus on yourself.

Sure, your cubicle is centrally located right smack dab in the center of the office. But that doesn’t mean you have to welcome every single staffer who strolls by your desk. You can still be friendly, but you might want to consider setting up some boundaries by politely telling people you're busy or even putting on some headphones for an hour a day so people are more apt to let you work. Also, don't be afraid to cut back on the number of extracurricular office activities. For example, you can volunteer for certain ones—such as the holiday cookie swap—but not all of them.

1. Be Flexible

When you work from home, you get the best of both worlds.

Not only do you get to participate in team meetings and feel like you’re part of a (virtual) team, but by the very nature of a remote job, you’re able to maintain your independence as well. It allows you to be a part of a team when you need to be, but work on your own—and all from the comfort of your home office.

Work as a Team, Negotiate for Yourself

Working together as a team doesn’t mean that you have to fork over your independence, either. By finding the ways to hang onto your autonomy, you’ll be able to be a great team player and still savor your independence, too.

But when it comes time to cash in on how great of a team player you are, it will be up to you to negotiate your own worth. And Salary.com can help.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.