One great way that we can increase commitment on teams for a positive and successful work environment is by creating ground rules, defined as team expectations or standards of behaviour. Having these rules creates clarity around how the team deals with one another on an ongoing basis.
What is the Value of Developing Team Ground Rules?
There are many benefits to developing team expectations or standards of behaviour. Ground rules can support:
- Team values, including respectful communication.
- Tapping into the skills and opinions of all team members.
- Avoiding wasting time and energy on confusion and destructive conflict.
- Better and faster decision-making.
- Results and creating a competitive advantage.
- A positive workplace and more fun.
What are important areas/topics that teams address when agreeing to Ground Rules?
Outlined below are some common example areas/topics for Ground Rules. (And please note, in many cases, a team may not need/want to address all these areas/topics for a variety of reasons and/or a team may have other ideas to add.)
- The preferred methods for communicating with one another i.e. e-mail, texting, phone calls, and so on?
- The norms around how to use each communication method i.e. e-mail as the primary means of communication, text if urgent, email if not urgent?
- The timeliness of responding to messages i.e. how quickly team members will be expected to reply, whether to reply in the evenings or on weekends, etc.?
- The extent to which team members will be available during non-work hours i.e. evenings, weekends, holidays, and vacations for meetings or to answer questions?
- What do different personality styles need while working remotely or in-person? What are the expectations around stretching and flexing personally with our personality tendencies and preferences?
- Ways in which we are going to recognize and appreciate each other?
- The methods for being vulnerable i.e. giving each other the benefit of the doubt, dealing with mistakes and weaknesses, asking for and offering help?
- The structure and schedule for virtual/in-person meetings i.e. frequency of meetings?
- How to ensure clarity in virtual/in-person meetings i.e. ending meetings with clear and specific resolutions and calls to action?
- Acceptable behaviour during virtual/in-person meetings i.e. the extent to which being on time to meetings is a priority and whether team members can bring their laptops or phones?
- How do we ensure productive debate during virtual/in-person meetings i.e. Mining for conflict and giving real time permission to be in conflict?
- What are acceptable/unacceptable behaviours in conflict?
- The decision-making process: How decisions are made? Who needs to be involved and in what type of decisions? How decisions are communicated?
- The process for feedback i.e. what feedback we give each other, how we give feedback to each other and how we receive feedback?
- How are we going to review progress with decisions/goals i.e. How to be clear about the team’s overall direction and priorities, and if the team is on track?