Becoming a Great Teammate: Communicating Out and Up

Lesson Progress:

Congratulations on a Great Month!

From: Celia Chan
To: Learning Lot Employees

Greetings Everyone,

I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the fabulous work of our Customer Services team last month. Luciana Giardinelli is a great leader, and the team members working in Customer Support are an incredibly positive and supportive team.

Look what they were able to accomplish!

  • 98% of support customers responding to email surveys rated our service excellent!
  • 99.5% of our support customers last month said that we solved their issues successfully!
  • We had the fastest email issue resolution times ever last month!
  • We had the fastest average response time to email requests and phone calls last month!

This kind of outstanding work is the result of dedication, hard work, great communication, and impressive teamwork.

These are the kinds of numbers that make me so proud to be a leader in this company.

Way to go Customer Support!


Learn More About It


Read: Becoming a Great Teammate


Working in a company or organization is different than working by yourself.

Being part of an organization means that you are now one member in a larger group. Whether you work for a company with 20 or 20,000 employees, the work you do impacts the people you work with and connects to other activities happening at your company.

Successful employees are always aware of the impact their work has on the company and on other employees. They know their role. They communicate with their co-workers and managers, and they collaborate well with others.

Five Keys to Being a Great Teammate

Successful companies inevitably demonstrate great teamwork.

DecorativeGreat teamwork allows companies to accomplish much more than they could if their individual employees were working alone in isolation.

Companies use teams to work more efficiently, solve problems more effectively, and build morale. Great teamwork makes companies stronger, and being a good team member will help you have a successful career.

But, what does it mean to be a valuable team member, and how can you contribute to great teamwork?

1. Know Yourself

Being a great teammate begins with knowing who you are and how you can use your strengths to help your team.

  • What are you good at? What are your strongest skills and talents?
  • Which of your personal skills and talents are most important for helping your team succeed?
  • How do your talents fit in with those of your co-workers?
    Note: This requires you to learn about your co-workers and their talents.

2. Know Your Role

Companies are usually divided into divisions and teams. Each employee has a role within these divisions and teams. Depending on the company, these roles can range anywhere from manager and administrative assistant to sales consultant and media specialist. One of the most important things for every employee is to know what their role is.

  • What is expected of you each day?
  • How do the tasks associated with your role impact other people on your team?
  • How do they impact people in other teams?
  • What information do you need to learn to perform your tasks and support the others on your team?
  • What skills do you need to develop to be the best worker possible at your particular role?

3. Know Your Goals

Every company sets goals as a way of setting priorities and motivating employees. In general, these goals include: (1) company goals, (2) team goals, and (3) individual goals. It is important to know the goals your company has set for your particular role. This lets you know what you need to do to be successful. It’s also important to understand the goals for your team and the company as a whole.

  • What are the goals for your role, for your team, and for your company?
  • What are you doing today to help you meet your individual goals?
  • What are you doing today to help your team meet their goals?
  • How are you measuring your progress toward meeting your individual goals?

4. Know that the Team’s Success is Your Success!

DecorativeThe best overall outcome for every employee, and for the company, is if the entire team performs well. Working together collaboratively, your team can accomplish big things for the company. Working together, the team will become more successful, and the individual team members will be successful as well.

  • How can you keep up with your team’s success?
  • What can you do each day to make sure your team is as successful as possible?
  • How do you celebrate the successes of your teammates?

5. Remember to Communicate Out and Up

Communication is an important part of being a great employee. Being a great communicator means communicating well with your coworkers and with your managers or supervisors.

One of the best ways to become a great communicator is to put yourself in the position of the people you work with.

  • What information can you share with your co-workers that will help them complete their tasks efficiently and successfully?
  • What work are you currently doing that might impact your co-workers or manager? What should you be sharing with them to avoid any
  • surprises or unexpected work?
  • What information can you share with your co-workers or managers proactively so that they won’t have to ask you for it?

Helpful Tips for Communicating and Collaborating Effectively at Work

Good communication and getting along with co-workers are important elements in building a successful professional life.

Here are some tips for doing these things well.

  • Always be pleasant — Anything you say and any message you deliver will be received more positively when you are pleasant. When speaking, smile and use a pleasant tone of voice. When writing an email, take the time to ask how the other person is doing or to say how much you appreciate their work.
  • Always speak with respect — When communicating with your co-workers, always make them feel that they are respected and that their work is valued.
  • Always say thanks — Say thanks for everything, even the smallest of actions.
  • Be aware of the responsibilities of others and appreciate them — Your co-workers have their own responsibilities and pressures. Taking the time to know what those are will make teammates feel appreciated. Also, whenever possible, compliment your co-workers in team meetings or other gatherings.
  • Keep your commitments — Follow through with your commitments. If you tell a co-worker you will do something, do it and do it well. Let them know that you are dependable.
  • Celebrate everyone’s victories — Spend as much time celebrating the success of your teammates as you do your own success. This means being aware of their victories and congratulating them both privately and publicly.
  • Follow up spoken interactions with email confirmations or summaries — Anytime you share ideas or information with a co-worker or manager in person or on the phone, always follow up with an email confirmation or summary. This will help others keep track of the information discussed and also give you a record of your commitments and assigned tasks.
  • Communicate often, openly, and effectively — There is no such thing as “over communicating” as an employee. Great employees work hard at communicating with others every day. They make time for frequent one-on-one conversations, email, and instant messaging sessions.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes — A great employee recognizes their mistakes and always owns them. Don’t make excuses and try to explain away your responsibility. If you make a mistake, admit it and commit to not making the same mistake again. And don’t!
  • Apologize and forgive — Always be quick to apologize and equally quick to forgive others for their mistakes.

Reflect: What Types of Communication Work Best for You?


Expand: The Two Little Cats: A Tale of Collaboration

Teams can accomplish more together than their members can working individually.

A good example of this can be found in a Tibetan folktale, “The Two Little Cats.”

The Two Little Cats

In the early, early days a very long time ago, there were two little cats going after some salt to put in their butter tea, for you must know that little cats in the early days didn’t drink tea without salt.


As they trotted along they met a Handre, and a Handre is the worst thing you could meet anywhere, for he has great big teeth that he crunches up little folks with, and horrid big eyes and claw like hands and feet.

So they were very much frightened and ran on faster than ever until they met a cow and the cow said, “Where are you going so fast, little cats?”

And they answered, “Oh, we just met a Handre and he is going to come to our house and eat us up.”

“Never mind,” said the cow, “I’ll go with you and help protect you from the Handre.”

So they all ran on together: cats and cow.

Soon they met a dog and he asked, “Where are you all going?”

And the little cats said, “We are running away from the Handre.”

“Never mind,” said the dog, “I’ll go with you and help protect you.”

So they all ran on together: cats, cow, and dog.

They ran on and met a crow, and he said, Decorative“Stop a minute and tell me where you are going so fast.”

“Oh, we are running away home as fast as we can,” said the little cats, “for the Handre is coming to eat us.”

So they all ran on together: cats, cow, dog, and crow.


Then they met a pan full of ashes and it said, “Wait a minute and take me with you, for I can help too.”

So they all ran on together: cats, cow, dog, crow, and ashes.

Then they found a package of a hundred needles, who asked if they might go and help against the Handre.

So they all ran on together: cats, cow, dog, crow, ashes, and needles.

Then a snake all curled up by the side of the road called out, “Where are you going, little cats?”

“Oh, we are running home as fast as we can because the Handre is coming.”

And the snake said, “Take me along and I’ll bite the Handre.”

So they all ran on together: cats, cow, dog, crow, ashes, needles, and snake.

As they trotted along they saw on a bench a little bowl of hard black peas.

“Where are you going so fast, little cats?” asked the peas.

“Oh, we are running home as fast as we can, for the Handre is coming.”

“Take me with you, little cats, and I’ll help protect you from the Handre.”

So in front of their gowns they took the bowl of peas and all together soon came home: cats, cow, dog, crow, ashes, needles, snake, and peas.

The cow they placed by the stair steps, the dog by the doorway, the peas on the stair steps, the crow in the water kang and the snake in the bread trough, the hundred needles in the bed and the pan of ashes on the ceiling and the little cats hid behind the door.

Soon the Handre came, I presume he flew in at the window, and he thought he would like to have a drink of water and when he went to get it the crow nipped him good and hard.

Then he thought he would make some bread, and when he went to the bread tray the snake gave him a bite.

Then he thought he would go upstairs and lie down on the bed and the needles stuck him dreadfully. He was getting madder and madder.

He looked up to the ceiling to see if the little cats were hiding up there and the ashes spilled on him and filled his eyes full.

Then he started to run down the stairs and he stepped on those hard peas and they hurt his feet dreadfully.

Then he fell on the horns of the cow and she tossed him to the dog, who ate him up immediately.

And the little cats came out from behind their door and had their supper in peace.

Activity:  Try It Out


What Would You Do?

Read the following scenario and then make a decision about what you would do. Each decision you make will present you with a consequence related to your actions. When there are no more decisions to make, you have reached the end of the scenario, and can then “Submit” your responses.

Lesson Resources

License and Citations

Content License

Lesson Content:

Authored and curated by Rob Reynolds, Ph.D. for The TEL Library. CC BY NC SA

More about the tali of “The Two Little Cats

Media Sources

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