Setting Team Ground Rules

I am looking for the best ground rules for a team that is coming together for the first time to discuss better recognition programs.

The Team Doc Says…

By understanding our values and assessing our behaviors, we can create a “safe environment” where people are comfortable speaking freely about their opinions, ideas and feelings in a team.

And by identifying how we will interact with each other, team members recognize the importance of understanding the individual needs of others.

That’s why team ground rules are important to the functioning of any team. The key to remember is that team ground rules must reflect the norms or expected behavior of team members. They are the definition of “how we behave together” in this team.

That said, there are a variety of team ground rules that could be acceptable for your team.

If you have a core set of ground rules that are used in your organization, that is the list you should start with. Team members should be allowed to accept (or not accept) each of those as items they want to embrace for their team.

If you are starting from scratch, begin with what the team members’ value. What is important to them in regards to acceptable team behavior?

Your best bet is to brainstorm a list and then talk through each item to ensure each team member has a clear understanding and can abide by that behavior norm. When you finalize your list, get confirmation from each member by having them raise their hand to physically acknowledge they agree to abide by the group behaviors.

So here are some ideas for you if you need to seed your list. These are team ground rules I’ve seen teams embrace.

  • Start the meeting on time
  • Have a prepared agenda with an objective and expected outcomes
  • End the meeting on time
  • Parking lot discussion items that don’t relate to this meeting’s objective
  • Complete action items as committed
  • One person speaks at a time
  • All team members are equals
  • Leave rank at the door
  • Address conflict by dealing with the issue not the person
  • Turn of cell phones / pagers
  • Notify the team in advance if you will be absent
  • Listen actively
  • Be a participant, not a lurker
  • What’s said in the room, stays in the room.
  • Have fun, but not at the expense of someone else’s feelings.
  • Be present, both physically and mentally.

That should get you started. Who else has ideas for team ground rules? Please leave a comment.

About Denise O'Berry

Hello! My name is Denise O'Berry aka Team Doc. I've spent years working with teams and their leadership to help them improve and work through team issues. You see some of that advice in the answers on this website. I'd like to help you too. Connect with me on Google+, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

  • http://notgot tony coleby

    sorry to bother you , but hope you can help, im in a pool team which we have started up ourselves, we had a meeting and all the team members made up a set of rules, we had a rule not to sign on more than seven players, if a team member decides to sign on more than seven members, and we already have a rule in place not to , would the right procedure be to have a vote on to sign on more players first,also if you sign on a player and they take no part in the teams activitys, all season, not turning up at all, showing no interest in the club at all, are they permited to vote on a subject, that affects the hole team , even when they take no part in the teams activitys, hope you can help me on this , as its causing a lot of problems within the team , thank you for your time bye

  • Denise O’Berry

    Not a bother at all Tony. Thanks for asking. The short answer is — if the team decided they would not sign on more than seven players, that should be the max. Which means not team member should be able to sign up another player on their own. It’s as simple as that. Which makes the other questions moot. The rule is the rule. If a player took it upon himself to sign another player, action should be taken then to deal with the issue and the new player should not be welcomed into the team.

  • http://donthave? tony coleby

    alo , thank you for your quick reply , to my text,( dated the april 24, 2012 at 1.26 am, and your reply dated the april 24, 2012 at 8.42 pm,) and for sorting out the correct procedure in regards to new players signing on, thank you , but hope you dont mind, but all though it doesnt apply, but my other question in regards to the other players who have signed on and apart from the playing and attending the matches 2 or 3 times, at the very begining of the season , and not being bothered to attend matches , or training sessions, at any time, if we have a meeting at this very time ,this season, are they allowed to turn up out of the blue ,so to speak, and vote on things that effect the team, dispite the lack of interest in the teams activitys all season, are they allowed to vote on issues that effect the team next season, i no this might be hypothetical,( had a lot of trouble with that word) but can you please ,please, help me as i feel the team is heading for a complete collapse, i no this is a bit long , and ive tryed to make sense in what ive asked, thank you for your time and being patience, thank and bye,

  • Denise O’Berry

    Tony — The issues of attendance and decision making should have been spelled out in your team ground rules. If they were not, you are pretty much stuck with allowing those people to participate in voting on team issues. Your best bet is to deal with the current issue, then go back and revise your ground rules to deal with these situations.

  • http://donthave? tony coleby

    sorry just seen and read , i got it wrong you did answer me , thank you and bye


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