Sophilabers Explain Our Values: Be a Team Player

Adriana Campoy
March 13, 2020

Our values drive everything we do at sophilabs. They're the first thing we mention in our Playbook, and they're the guiding principles behind all of our processes and daily practices. We consider these values the foundation of our company culture:

In this post, we'll take a closer look at Be a team player, sharing the words of our own team members. Read on to find out how sophilabers define what makes a team player and what teamwork in action looks like.

What does it mean to be a team player?

When asked this question, our team members had a lot to say. Teamwork is essential to the way we do our jobs, so unsurprisingly, the same key concepts came up several times. Here are some highlights of how sophilabers interpret Be a team player.

Alignment Towards Common Goals

One of the most important aspects of working as part of the team is making sure we're all on the same page about the goals we're striving to achieve. When we're all heading the same direction, we can work together more effectively to reach our destination. This applies to the way we understand and practice Scrum, the Agile framework we use to organize our work.

The Scrum framework itself is built on top of a great analogy from rugby, where the scrum is a play initiation method in which players are tightly packed together to gain ball possession and work together to cover territory towards the end goal. This calls for a high degree of collaboration, proactiveness and adaptivity.
– Rafael Morante, Agile Master & Product Manager

Rugby wasn't the only sport sophilabers mentioned to illustrate how team players are committed to the team and its goals. In our Montevideo office, one team member referenced a common Uruguayan expression that employs a soccer metaphor to define what makes a team player.

Being a team player means wearing the team's jersey. Being loyal to the team, knowing that if things don't go well for the team, they don't go well for you.
– Facundo Revello, Software Engineer

Across the board, sophilabers agreed that dedication to the team's goals and an understanding that "we're all in this together" are crucial parts of being a team player.

Empathy & Trust

A true team player also exercises their emotional intelligence to give other team members the benefit of the doubt.

Being a team player means putting yourself in someone else's shoes, knowing that no matter what happens, you always have to trust that your teammates are doing the best job possible.
– Micaela Rodríguez, Software Engineer

Mutual trust enables real collaboration, which unleashes tremendous potential for what the team can accomplish together.

Clear & Consistent Communication

Sophilabers stressed that being a team player requires daily practice, especially when it comes to communication.

One of the key traits or characteristics of being a team player is being able to communicate clearly with other team members to clarify any issues.
– Gerry Xu, Software Engineer

Teamwork requires transparency and open communication.
Teamwork requires transparency and open communication.

It's important to understand that teamwork is a constant effort to cooperate and communicate.
– Victoria Burghi, Talent Manager

As Victoria explains, being a team player is not a one-time achievement. It's an ongoing task that involves a continual awareness of how well we're communicating and working with others.

Giving & Receiving Honest Feedback

While it's great when team members develop a good rapport, it's important to remember that simply being amiable with colleagues doesn't make someone a team player.

Many times people confuse being a good coworker with being a good team player. Being a true team player means having the boldness to leave your ego and fears aside and encourage others to improve themselves and grow professionally, even if they are not very open to hearing your feedback. In the same way, you should know how to receive constructive feedback and have the capacity to accept it and work on your weaker areas.
– Federico Roda, Developer Coach & Product Manager

In short, being a real team player isn't all about affability; it means being sincere with others (and yourself) about the things you and your teammates can improve.

Collaborating & Helping Each Other

One of the key benefits of teamwork is being able to achieve greater things together, which is only possible when the team knows how to leverage every individual's skills. True team players help each other tackle tough problems.

Being a team player means knowing what strengths and weaknesses you have and how to complement them with other members of the team. Asking for help when you need it and helping others when they need it.
– Facundo Revello, Software Engineer

Collaboration is at the heart of what being a team player is about.
Collaboration is at the heart of what being a team player is about.

Another characteristic is being able to collaborate and support other team members in need.
– Gerry Xu, Software Engineer

Every day, I try to lean on my teammates in order to do my job in the best way possible.
– Micaela Rodríguez, Software Engineer

Nearly everyone mentioned the importance of helping our teammates and seeking help when we're stuck on a difficult task. Sophilabers know that when we help each other, we can accomplish the highest goals.

Leaving Our Comfort Zone

Being a team player sometimes involves putting the team's goals before our own and doing tasks we don't necessarily enjoy. Rather than seeking personal gain, however, team players are committed to the big picture and give their best effort regardless of what they're working on.

Being part of a team actually means making an effort to be better. Many times it means setting aside our personal priorities to pursue the greater good. It implies leaving our comfort zone to do things better, together with other people.
– Victoria Burghi, Talent Manager

If someone is out sick or on leave, you need to "play in another position" and do it with the conviction that you're collaborating for the greater good, without putting your own needs first.
– Micaela Rodríguez, Software Engineer

Being a team player is all about understanding the team's overall goals and proactively finding ways in which you can complement your peers to reach them. It's about understanding your role within the team's bigger picture as a pliable construct that sometimes may take you out of your comfort zone for the sake of the team.
– Rafael Morante, Agile Master & Product Manager

Team players are flexible and open-minded, contributing their skills wherever they're needed. This approach allows teams to adapt to change and developers to learn and grow as professionals.

What can we achieve through teamwork?

Working as a team enables us to consistently go above and beyond expectations. Below, Sophilabers share their favorite stories about what they have accomplished through teamwork.

I was very stuck on a difficult feature with a very tight deadline. During a daily meeting, I mentioned my problem to the team. Right after the meeting, the majority of our team members set their work aside, and we gathered at the whiteboard to find a way to solve the problem. With everyone's diverse technical experience and expertise at our disposal, we arrived at a good solution that everyone contributed to. I was able to meet my deadline, which would have been impossible otherwise.
– Facundo Revello, Software Engineer

The first time I represented sophilabs at a career fair was a true example of teamwork. Our stand involved an interactive, vintage trivia game, and we had to create the set and buzzers and put everything together in record time. Once everything was assembled and in action, I felt very proud to be part of this team. Being there and listening to my coworkers tell students about their experience working at sophilabs was really moving–and fun!
– Victoria Burghi, Talent Manager

One time I worked on a project in which not all the developers had experience in every technology involved. We had a tight schedule, and we didn't have time for training or self-learning. We held a brainstorming session to address the situation. We went for a collaborative strategy of pair programming in which each functionality was covered by two developers with abilities in different areas. Each pair constructed the functionality together, learning from their partner throughout the sprint. When the next sprint came around, every developer could tackle an entire functionality themselves thanks to what they had learned from their teammate.
–Federico Roda, Developer Coach & Product Manager

It's actually harder for me to pinpoint a specific or special occurrence of teamwork nowadays, since a high degree of collaboration is a must on my projects. I don't think it'd be possible for us to achieve much of the work we do if teams weren't highly collaborative; teams are accustomed to clustering together to resolve complex problems that otherwise would take a single person a significant amount of effort to address by themselves.
–Rafael Morante, Agile Master & Product Manager

Working as a team makes everything we do at sophilabs possible, and we aspire to get even better at being team players as we continue to achieve great things together. Stay tuned for future posts exploring the other core values that shape our company culture: Love your craft, Aim high, and Work hard. In the meantime, if the way we define teamwork resonates with you, check out our open positions!

"Sophilabers Explain Our Values: Be a Team Player" by Adriana Campoy is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photos by Victoria Burghi.

Categorized under people & culture.

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