Ask the Experts

There’s No “I” in Teamwork … And Other Principles of Professionalism

How to enhance your professionalism and efficacy at work.

When Hillary met with the rest of the editorial team, it was all about Hillary. She talked constantly about her story ideas and gave others little chance to speak. When they did, Hillary found a million reasons why their ideas wouldn’t work as well as hers. Soon Hillary, who believed she was the team’s most valuable member, found herself off the lineup and out of a job.

Like many with ADHD, Hillary didn’t realize that succeeding on a team requires a heightened awareness of others. You have to be able to listen, contribute ideas and provide task support based on what you’ve heard. Remember, there is no “I” in teamwork.

Managing yourself and your own tasks is difficult enough when you have ADHD. The added complexities of different personalities and interaction styles can be overwhelming. But these days, many companies prefer that people work in teams, because productivity exceeds the results of individuals working alone. If your company values and requires teamwork, here are important principles to keep in mind.

Think about the team members and their feelings rather than just the task. If you get the task done, but injure relationships, you may not be successful in your job.

Thinking outside the box is one positive aspect of having ADHD. Use it. Teams draw on the individual strengths of their members. Every team needs new ideas and new ways to proceed as well as people to carry out the tasks.

Energy management is critical. Try and schedule meetings at optimum times for your energy level and work style. If you are hyperactive, you may want to cram a meeting between two active tasks. If you are easily overwhelmed by too many words and activities, plan to have meetings after a period of quiet time.

Engage others in the discussion and listen carefully. Ask more about other peoples’ ideas and opinions before sharing your own.

Encourage others. Be supportive of their ideas, even ideas that differ from your own. Building relationships by supporting co-workers will make you a valued team member.

Appreciate your unique gifts and talents as well as those of your co-workers. Lead with your strengths and encourage other team members to do the same. Cherish diversity rather than bemoaning what you or others are not. Not everyone is “detail oriented.” Nor is everyone an “idea person.”