“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” says an African proverb. A career is a long journey and teamwork is paramount in today’s industrial work environment. Collaborating with others to accomplish tasks and/or solve challenging problems will be a constant part of your career whether you are a team member or leading a team. Hence, developing collaboration skills will be key to achieving sustained growth and success in your career. Below are a few suggestions for mastering teamwork to become an effective team player:
- Build strong relationships based on mutual respect and trust. This will create a positive team dynamic and help you work together more effectively.
- Communicate effectively. Practice active listening, ask questions, and provide clear and concise feedback to your team members.
- Embrace diversity. The chemical industry is a global industry, and teams often include members with different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Embrace this diversity and use it to your advantage, as different perspectives and experiences can lead to more creative and effective solutions.
- Be reliable and accountable. Follow through on your commitments, take responsibility for your mistakes, and be accountable for your actions. This will build trust and respect among your team members.
- Foster collaboration. Encourage collaboration among your team members and be willing to work together to find solutions to complex problems
- Develop leadership skills. Even if you're not in a formal leadership role, developing leadership skills can help you contribute more effectively to your team. Practice setting goals, motivating others, and delegating tasks to help your team achieve success.
- Seek and provide feedback. Remember, teamwork is a continuous learning process. Keep seeking feedback from your colleagues, learning from your experiences, and striving to improve your teamwork skills, and you will become an effective team player in no time!
Dr. Semra Colak Atan is currently an Advanced Research Specialist at 3M Company, Corporate Research Materials Laboratory. Over the past 11 years, her research has been focused on the development of biofunctional materials for products used in healthcare, as well as biopharmaceutical separations and purifications area. Semra obtained her B.Sc. (2004) and M.Sc. (2006) in Chemistry from Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, and her Ph.D. (2011) in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Thus far she has co-authored over 50 technical publications, which include 15 issued, 27 published, 6 pending patent applications, and 9 articles in peer-reviewed journals.
In addition to her day job as a scientist at 3M, Semra has also been taking various leadership roles to serve the community by encouraging the advancement of STEM. She has served as the Chair of 3M’s Academic Relations Committee and currently is serving as the Chair of 3M’s Women Leadership Forum – Technical with a focus on attracting and developing technical women leaders to accelerate their inclusion and advancement at the organization via strong mentorship.
Semra has been an active member of the ACS Polymer Chemistry Division (POLY) board since 2012, serving in different roles. She has organized multiple symposia and served as POLY Alternate Councilor and POLY Awards Co-Chair. Most recently, she was the 2022 POLY Chair and currently is serving as the Division’s Past Chair.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.