- Understand how to create team norms, roles, and expectations.
- Identify keys to running effective team meetings.
Establishing Team Norms
Norms are shared expectations about how things operate within a group or team. Just as new employees learn to understand and share the assumptions, norms, and values that are part of an organization’s culture, they also must learn the norms of their immediate team. This understanding helps teams be more cohesive and perform better. Norms are a powerful way of ensuring coordination within a team. For example, is it acceptable to be late to meetings? How prepared are you supposed to be at the meetings? Is it acceptable to criticize someone else’s work? These norms are shaped early during the life of a team and affect whether the team is productive, cohesive, and successful.
Square Wheels Exercise and Group Discussion
Sometimes it can be challenging to start a conversation around team ground rules and performance. The following exercise can be used to get individuals talking about what works and what doesn’t work in teams they’ve worked in and how your team can be designed most effectively.
What is happening in this picture represents how many organizations seem to operate. On a piece of paper have everyone in your team write on this form and identify as many of the key issues and opportunities for improvement as you can. Following this, have a conversation around what this illustration might mean for your own team.
Scientific research, as well as experience working with thousands of teams, show that teams that are able to articulate and agree on established ground rules, goals, and roles and develop a team contract around these standards are better equipped to face challenges that may arise within the team (Katzenback & Smith, 1993; Porter & Lilly, 1996). Having a team contract does not necessarily mean that the team will be successful, but it can serve as a road map when the team veers off course. The following questions can help to create a meaningful team contract:
Team Values and Goals
- What are our shared team values?
- What is our team goal?
Team Roles and Leadership
- Who does what within this team? (Who takes notes at the meeting? Who sets the agenda? Who assigns tasks? Who runs the meetings?)
- Does the team have a formal leader?
- If so, what are his or her roles?
Team Decision Making
- How are minor decisions made?
- How are major decisions made?
- Who do you contact if you cannot make a meeting?
- Who communicates with whom?
- How often will the team meet?
- What constitutes good team performance?
- What if a team member tries hard but does not seem to be producing quality work?
- How will poor attendance/work quality be dealt with?