What the peep is a Team Player ?

You know, I have always had this anger building inside of me. Every time I hear it, I flinch. Every time I read about it, I clench my fists, and bare my teeth. And every time someone mentions it in a context I think is crazy, I very nearly lose it.

Well, what set off the ticking time bomb then ? Why rant about it suddenly ? Couple of things- My exams just got over, and I finally (finally x n! times) have time to myself, I was just recently profile jumping through Linkedin (that’s right, I stalk people on Linkedin and not Facebook) and something on the page caught my eye – it said ‘Good Team Player’!! Well, I did the next thing best to punching the floor. I switched tabs, and started punching on my keyboard furiously.

(Ok, now that the anger is out of the way, phew!) Well, to be honest, I think being a good (quote)team player(unquote) is important. But you know what’s more important ? Defining that term correctly.

Here’s what a good team worker is in my opinion,

Person a: Hey, how’s work coming along ?
Person b: Great. Very nearly done with everything. I think we should be able to complete ahead of schedule. How are things coming along at your end ?
Person a: That’s awesome. Pretty good too.

….. sometime later

Person b: Hey, can you help me with a little something. I seem to be stuck.
Person a: Sure, let’s head over to your desk.

….. and 2 minutes later.

Person b: Thanks mate. Let me get back to work then. Thanks a bunch.

…… and for 2 months they never have to bother each other. See, that’s how things work. You always help each other out. Person a is a good team player.

Now here’s another scenario:

Person c: Hey, how’s work coming along ?
Person d: Listen dude, I am really awfully stuck here. You need to help me out. Really.
Person c: Oh, so how far have you gotten ?
Person d: See, that’s part of the issue. I was never really sure what I was supposed to do. If you can come take a look at it, I am sure “we” as “a team” can get it done in practically no time.
Person c: Gee, sorry, but I have some work to do on my own. Maybe you should talk to someone else. Manager to Person c: You did an outstanding job on your part/schematic/circuit/code. You even finished it a full week before it was due. But see, you could have helped Person d. You need to be a better team player. You get a “B-“. Let’s try to do better next time. Person c: That’s it – I QUIT!!

….. See, Person c there is obviously not a team player, right ? Right ? See, that’s why I get green when someone pulls that “team player” crap on me.

Now here’s a “team player instead”

Person d: See, that’s part of the issue. I was never really sure what I was supposed to do. If you can come take a look at it, I am sure “we” as “a team” can get it done in practically no time.
Person e: Oh, you know, even I don’t know what I am doing. Let’s head over to your desk and figure things out, then we will head over mine and figure things out.

…. after a week of plodding through and making no progress,

Person d/e: Person c – can you help us out ? We are stuck.
Manager to d/e: You guys really worked hard this quarter. Sure, some things could have been better, but I have never seen such wonderful camaraderie and team spirit. You guys are good “Team Players”. An “A” for you two then.

Moral of the story: Everybody has their interpretation of Team Player, but if you are on the losing team, it doesn’t matter – you lost. (So, if you are on the losing team, and think you fit the description of Person c, what are you doing reading this post, quit now!!)

P.S: Mahendra Singh Dhoni – if you read this, please don’t use this as an excuse to ask Sachin to Retire. (even if Srinivasan thinks you deserve an A)