Work – it’s a team game

“Light is the task where many share the toil” Homer
The last part of this book is called “The rules of the game”, and it talks about those things that make up

the framework of work.

Susan Packard in her book New rules of the game says that the workplace is just a great big playing field, with winners and losers, different teams, goals, and certain rules that you need to learn if you want to win. Specifically Susan talks about women in the workplace and why they don’t get ahead or are badly treated. A lot of what she says is easily transferred to new starters.

For example, you need to know the rules (and they are different to education) and you need to know the language (it’s still English – but not as you know it).

Susan talks about work (business) as a team sport, and there are nine things she says you have to do or learn if you want to have a fair go in this sport of work.

1. Conditioning
2. Composure
3. Playing offense
4. Celebrate success
5. Practice, practice, practice 6. Uniform requirements
7. Good sportsmanship
8. Grit
9. Team play

We’ll talk about these things in the next section on teamwork.


At work you are probably going to be a member of at least one team. So let’s talk about teamwork. I’m guessing that you think you are a pretty good team player, based on your experience at school/university class exercises?

Well we know from Part 1 that you are wrong. Why, because the team exercise you went through was artificial. It wasn’t carried out in the real world, with real world personalities and difficulties.

So let’s go through what makes a good sports team player and what that means for work.


You have to be in shape. You’re not going to contribute or get much team support unless you show that you can deliver the goods. Now although you are a new starter, you can be the best new starter by applying the principles of this book. Be excellent at what you do, take your job training seriously and you’ll get yourself in the best possible condition for the game.


Don’t get emotional. Be cool. Be professional. Things will go wrong on the game, don’t cry about it, pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and move on. Be optimistic, be energetic.

Playing offense

This is probably not so relevant for a new starter. You will not be expected to score goals for the team, but you will be expected to watch others’ backs, be supportive, look for tasks that the team needs doing (that are within your capabilities).

Celebrate success

As a new starter you are not expected to have a fan base, but build contacts and networks outside the team so that the team is supported. Celebrate success so that team builds a history, creates stories that others can relate to. Lots of work teams have myths around their success.

Whether it’s a team of hairdressers staying late one night to socialise and share success stories, or a group of real estate agents taking out an ad in the paper to let others know of their success, it’s all important in making the team a winning team.

Practice, practice, practice

This is really important when you are a new starter in a team. Don’t let your first kick of the ball in the grand final be the first time you have tried.

Practice those kicks, practice those tasks, practice those conversations you are going to have with the boss, or the co-worker or the customer, maybe do it by watching how the rest of the team manages their tasks, and copy them. Practice with the rest of the team so that you get better and better.

Uniform requirements

Teams have uniforms for a reason. It socialises them and gives a perception that they are all on the same page and are cohesive. So make sure that the impressions you give, whether it’s visual (clothes, appearance) or behaviour (doing, physical movement) or communications (talking, listening) these all send out a message that you are part of this team.

Good sportsmanship

No one likes a bad loser. So make sure you don’t let the team down by complaining and whingeing. Be professional. Sometimes work isn’t fair. Get over it; you are on a professional team now.


See things through. Always deliver on your promises. Be optimistic. Never give up. So maybe it didn’t work out first time, keep plugging away and ask for team help.

Team play

Being a team player means you have to put yourself out there at times. Overcome your natural shyness to help the team out.

If you have a win, be sure to acknowledge the efforts of all the team.
As we have said before, it’s important to have a professional relationship in any team, and if friendship

comes along in a work situation, it’s a bonus, but should not be expected.

It’s all about results. The amazing thing is, the more the team gets feedback on good results, generally the better the team functions.