Copyright 2017 - Jennifer Britton
For decades we have known the power of a team charter or a team having a set of shared agreements about what is acceptable, or unacceptable on the team. These are behavioral agreements around “how things are done around here”. Having an explicitly created set of team agreements can serve to avoid some of the more negative, and toxic behaviors which can emerge.
Increasingly research is pointing to the importance of team agreements - take a look at Charles Duhigg’s article on Google’s high performing team experience, or refer to what Amy Edmonston refers to as psychological safety.
Time Required: 15 – 60 minutes
Materials needed – White board, breakouts and/or annotation
Who For? Newly forming teams, teams which are wanting to be even more exceptional, project teams, teams that are struggling
Teams which excel have a set of shared agreements around how they want to operate as a team. This is also seen as “What is acceptable and what is not acceptable in our team”. “It’s how we do things around here”. It’s “our values in action”
Get team members to first consider the question : What are the behaviors and agreements you want to have in place so that you can do your best work?”
Creating a team charter can be done in several ways –
As a large group where everyone suggests one item at a time, which is captured on a white board and then agreed upon OR
First team members meet in smaller breakouts to discuss what they see as agreements, which they then bring back and share with the larger team as individuals or breakout groups
Depending on the number of agreements generated, you may wan t to capture them first and then vote on which are the top ones for the team OR to create the most amount of buy-in, have team members share their proposed agreements and then individually agree upon them, and what they mean for everyday behaviors.
What is important in this dialogue is the discussion and agreement across the team. It is also important for the team to have discussion around what does each agreement look like “in action” or behaviorally. For example, if we agree to “start work on time” what does that look like? Does that mean you are in the office? Does it mean you are in the lunch room, in the office starting the day, or does it mean that you are on your computer ready to work when the work day starts.
With teams it is important to get “granular” and very detailed around what is, and what is not, acceptable on the team.
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