In my experience, most teams benefit significantly by having explicit team agreements to avoid conflict and hit the ground running with clarity and confidence.
The working agreement must respect all the team’s expectations and include principles that will allow the team to meet them.
Team agreements may be made by the team alone or with the help of a facilitator, but an essential factor to getting buy-in is that the team creates its agreement itself. The best team agreements are those which:
Once you design a process that meets these goals, outline the context and parameters of what your team needs right now. For example, are you creating an agreement:
Ask your team these core questions (adapted to and appropriate for your situation), capturing the answers so everyone can understand them now and in the future. Follow up with questions to surface any underlying feelings and concerns (here is where a professional facilitator can be valuable):
Formulate an agreement list, discuss, simplify, and understand the results. They can be specific, behavioural, or qualitative. An agreement item might look like these:
Together, we work hard to reach the same goal.
We speak English.
We turn up to the meeting right on time.
Mistakes are human. We look for learning.
If a teammate is not communicating appropriately, we will call it to their attention.
We encourage risk-taking.
We value diversity, invite multiple points of view, and look for the contrary or unpopular positions to maximise our creativity as a team.
We can disagree all we want as a team inside the conference room. Outside the room, we present one aligned position.
A team agreement can thus give us the opportunity to find the few standard rules that will allow us to collaborate better.
Over time, habits can be lost; it may be necessary to return to this contract that we have shared and possibly adapt it to new situations or people in the group.
It also allows you to spend a moment of introspection with each team member and an opportunity to open up to others about our values and commitments.