EMPLOYEES are increasingly expected to contribute to the performance and success of their work teams.

While it sounds great on paper, it is not all that easy to work in a team, since team members are usually different in style, attitude, commitment and work ethic.

The following tips will help team members to contribute more productively to their teams and reduce friction among themselves.

Manage negative behaviour

Teams often get bogged down in blaming members when things go wrong.

As a team member, you can do two things to stop this wasteful and destructive team behaviour.

First, eliminate any blaming language you may use, such as: "It doesn't work here, we have already tried it, the company will never agree."

Replace blaming and finger-pointing comments or questions with a focus on solving or preventing problems.

Second, if other team members get into the blaming cycle, step in and "turn" the conversation back to a constructive approach.

For example, here is a good approach: "OK, maybe we could save some time here by trying to ensure that the problem doesn't happen again. What can we do to prevent it next time?"

It is not how hard you have been hit by a problem. It is how you move on after you have been hit.

Commitment and cooperation

There is a difference between interest and commitment.

When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you are committed to doing something, you accept no excuses, only results.

In today's team-based organisations, winning the respect and cooperation of colleagues and staff is critical if you want people to help you get things done.

You need to create a stronger well-organised team and foster an environment of cooperation to successfully complete complex and critical projects.

Consider these points:

1. Consider the group's mission when selecting a team.

Choose team members who have performance capabilities that are best suited for the task at hand. Do not choose them based on existing relationships.

2. Put together a diverse team.

Limiting the group to people with similar interests and skills will limit the final result.

Recruit individuals who represent a mix of viewpoints and perceptions. If support is needed from various parts of the organisation, select team members from these departments.

3. Identify the strengths of your team members.

Ask members what tasks they feel they are most suited for. That way, when you delegate assignments, you will know which members are best equipped, and most eager, to perform them.

4. Be clear about member responsibilities.

Good teams have a multitude of complementary talents. Each person has strengths to contribute to the team.

All members need to understand what is expected of them and what role they will play.

5. Focus, focus, focus.

If you keep the unit pointed in the right direction, members will have a clear sense of direction. You need to communicate your team's vision every day and use it as a behavioural guide.

To help them link their everyday actions to the vision, engage existing and new members in discussions on what they are doing and why.

6. Make all members accountable for team results.

When the team is successful, they can share the glory. When the team is less than successful, they must share the consequences.

7. When someone does something well, applaud!

You will make several people happy.

Condition team members to believe they are part of a successful group. Ensure members know that their team is made up of winners and that they would not be there if they were not winners too.

8. Earn members' respect.

People follow a leader whom they trust and respect. Carry through on promises. If you say that you will do something, they want to know they can count on your word.

9. Get feedback about how to improve the team's performance.

New members can often see things more clearly than insiders. Even if you disagree with their suggestions, let them know that you were glad to hear their ideas.

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.

Do not join an easy crowd; you will not grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high. The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch.