[Q&A] How do you develop good team working agreements?

Sep 15, 2023

Q: How do you develop good team working agreements?

A: 1. Clarify your team’s communication expectations and mediums.
2. Create a team charter!
3. Create a space for open dialogue and discussion.


Great question! Here are a few of the best answers from our Strategy Collaborative Q&A Session!

Establishing team norms as a standard item in the strategic planning process is a proactive step to ensure that the expectations for how your team operates and works together are not just assumed but explicitly stated. This enables your team to be more efficient and harmonious as everyone works together. How do we go about setting and leveraging team agreements in a way that is effective and purposeful? Read on for our tips!

Establishing a Solid Foundation for Teamwork

Pro Tip:

Early in the process, set clear definitions and have open discussions about how your organization defines important terms to alleviate confusion and streamline the planning and implementation of strategy.

Understand how mission, vision, values, and guiding principles connect to form team working agreements

Establish your mission, vision, and values to create a foundation for your organization. When these are formed early and clearly defined, it allows your team to connect these with the more intricate aspects of team building and the creation of working agreements. It also puts your organization’s and individual team members’ current beliefs and aspirational behaviors into perspective.

These ultimately form together to create a working culture that can influence every aspect of the strategic process.

Pro Tip:

Working agreements are different than your mission, vision, and values. Mission, vision, and values express why your organization exists, where you are going, and how you expect your team to behave. Working agreements outline how your team works together every day in-step to achieve your vision of success.

Find the connection between culture and strategy

Culture and strategy go hand-in-hand in determining the direction of an organization. Understanding how your organization’s culture influences strategy can be the first step in formulating fruitful working agreements. It’s important not to overlook the depth and impact of organizational values in the process of setting the direction of your team.

Clarify your team’s communication styles

The foundation of team agreements starts with how your team members will communicate and work with one another. Effective communication is a cornerstone in establishing good team norms.

It is imperative to understand and respect individual communication preferences within a team. Acknowledging that one method of communication might not be suitable for everyone and adapting accordingly can prevent many potential roadblocks.

Pro Tip:

Start by figuring out your team members’ communication styles by conducting surveys or signing the team up to take a communication style profile like Emergenetics.

In the beginning stages, take time to determine how you will conduct your meetings and work together. Across the organization, agree that team norms or working agreements are more in terms of how you will work, how you communicate, and how you expect to operate as a member of a team.

Effectively Implementing Team Norms

Leveraging team charters

A team charter can be an effective tool to outline roles and expectations clearly, as well as combat ‘scope creep’ of projects. It sets the expectation and creates a space for members to ask questions and seek clarifications actively, fostering a transparent work environment.

Creating safe spaces for discussion

Creating an environment where team members can freely ask hard questions and share their thoughts is crucial. This promotes an atmosphere where everyone can contribute towards strategic thinking and planning.

Evaluating and Adapting Your Team Norms

The need to set your norms explicitly

Get in the habit of setting explicit norms at every meeting, even if it is only a quick conversation to restate the guidelines previously set. Having these established norms that can be revisited and adjusted, as per the needs and dynamics of the team, makes the workflow smoother and more focused.

Conclusion

It’s clear that team norms and working agreements are not just administrative formalities but are pivotal and practical guidelines for fostering a productive working environment. Incorporating these insights into your team dynamics can pave the way for a successful and cohesive team operation.

Additional Resources to Consider

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