How to be a Great Teammate
- Show up when the teams are launched
The first week of a team project is absolutely crucial. You want to be communicating as much as possible and build momentum as soon as you can. The faster your team can get up and running, the higher the likelihood that the project will be completed.
A mistake we sometimes see people make is that they aren’t active in the first week and then they wonder later why their team isn’t active in the fourth week. The first week is crucial.
- Bring energy and enthusiasm to the team with your first message
Your first message to your team should transfer your excitement and enthusiasm for the project to your teammates.
Because we can’t help but react to signals, good or bad. If people come in excited and with enthusiasm, that signals to others that this is something worth working on and builds momentum. If people come in with neutral language, it does the opposite.
“Hey everyone! Can’t wait to get started and excited to build something awesome with you!! 🚀 🔥
What message do you think will build more momentum, energize others, and increase the likelihood of the project finishing? This may sound silly but team dynamics and momentum is incredibly important.
Of course, we all have different personalities and some may be more relaxed with this sort of thing. That’s completely fine, feel free to use your own style (or even copy and paste what's written above), but keep the above principle in mind.
- Understand this important reality about people and know that you have to continuously “activate” your team-mates
I know what you’re thinking: what the ?%$! does that mean?
Enter Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates and the 83rd wealthiest human on Earth, who says one of the greatest insights he’s found as an employer is what he calls the “two yous” that wrestle inside everyone.
The overarching challenge is people’s two thems, in other words think about it in this way: there are two yous inside you. There is the thoughtful you, prefrontal cortex type of thoughtful you. Then there’s the subliminal emotional you, and you’re not aware of the subliminal emotional you. There are those two yous and they’re often at odds. The classic example would be, of course, where you did something that you didn’t want to do. You ate the cake that you didn’t want to eat. What we’ve observed at Bridgewater on a constant basis is that the emotional subliminal them often can be in control of their more thoughtful them. That’s the battle that almost everybody all the time is doing. — Ray Dalio
To bring this to the Chingu context, the more thoughtful, prefrontal cortex you is the one who wants to reach your goals and applied to Chingu. This you also went through the various forms [*cough cough filters*] we’ve sent and signed your name to Chingu’s Accountability Pledge.
Before joining a cohort, all members have continuously asserted that they will be a dependable team-mate who will persevere regardless of the inevitable roadblocks.
Yet people still go inactive. People still eat the cake they didn’t want to eat. We all experience times when we fail to reach a goal we wanted. That’s what the two yous mean. It’s a reality we all share and you have to contend with in your own life, in Chingu teams, as well as all teams throughout your life.
How can I make this insight actionable?
Recognize this reality, empathize with your team-mates (and yourself) when these battles happen, and know that despite setbacks, if you take ownership and utilize grit, you will succeed.
- Expect less, Do more
Finishing Act 1 is hard. Strangers have to come together, get to know each other and get a remote project going. Many teams will underestimate this and they won’t make it to Act 2. Don’t be that team.
Do not make the mistake of expecting your team-mates to be fully engaged (see above #2). Everyone has their own lives and unique circumstances — some people will be working 2 jobs, some people will have emergencies come up, a lot of people will get jobs.
The questions you should have going into any team project is: “How can I activate and energize my team-mates? How can I keep them activated every week?”
If everyone takes responsibility for their team getting started the team will have a good chance of getting started and finishing.
- Send each of your teammates a Direct Message and build rapport right away
Get to know your teammates on an individual basis. You get to meet a new friend, but it also strengthens your team and reduces the risk of dropouts.
Also, if they don’t reply after 3 days please make a ticket.
- Avoid asking general questions to no one in particular in your team chat
Talk to people specifically by using @username when asking questions. If you ask things like “What do you all want to work on?” it’s possible no one will reply. Instead, ask: “Hey @username1 @username2, can you give two ideas of something you’d like to work on? Then we can decide together from there. :)”
- Utilize soft skillsI recommend reading these soft skills [principles](/projres/softskills) daily during this Voyage. If you learn to use these principles in your social interactions with others, you will be much more effective.
Since Chingu started, we’ve launched around 1,000 teams with thousands of tech-learners and 95% of all issues we’ve seen fall into one of the following two categories.
1. Lack of basic soft skills or inexperience using them.
2. Members becoming inactive (which is sometimes soft skills issue-related)