Ring in the New Year with Team Ground Rules

Posted by Kristin Arnold on December 31, 2007

Just got back from taking a few weeks off for the holidays. Hope you did, too! 🙂

Ring in the new year with some team resolutions or ground rules to enhance your team work. Ground rules are the guidelines a team establishes to ensure a safe, receptive and productive work environment. Ground rules provide the foundation for team effectiveness and ensure a satisfying experience working together as a team.

Here are some ideas for your team’s new year resolutions:

  • Start on time.
  • End on time.
  • Ask for ideas from everyone.
  • Offer help without being asked.
  • Accept all suggestions as valid for consideration.
  • Work together to solve problems.
  • Recognize and consider others’ ideas.
  • See first to understand, then to be understood.
  • Give your undivided attention to the person speaking.
  • Respect each other.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Agree to disagree.
  • Participate.
  • Honor time limits.
  • Be committed to team decisions.
  • Celebrate success.
  • Be open to a constructive “reminder of our rules.”

To reach agreement on your team’s new year resolutions, read through this suggested list and ask if there are any that would enhance your team’s work. Capture those ideas (and any others that pop up) on a flipchart so all can see. After all ideas are exhausted, go through each item on the flipchart list and ask: “Can we agree to this?” If someone cannot agree, ask, “What is it that you cannot agree to?” If possible, incorporate their concern into the resolution.

Combine similar ideas into a final, agreed-upon list. Ensure that you have agreement on the entire list as well as a commitment to follow the ground rules.

You now have your team’s new years’ resolutions – or ground rules to effective team work.

Discuss how to enforce the team’s ground rules. It may be just to recognize their presence, or that each team member should remind each other by providing a constructive reminder of our rules.  Some teams use a ‘penalty pot’ where each team member contributes a penny, nickel or quarter for each violation of the rules. At the end of the project or year, the team decides what to do with the money.

Read this list at the beginning of every meeting to remind each other of your ground rules.

Question: Does your team use ground rules to enhance your work together?

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