Essential Leadership Practice: Clarifying Expectations
If morale is low, if there is conflict within the team, if team members are having difficulty communicating, or if you find the team isn’t quite ‘gelling’, it is often because the team has not taken time to explore the behaviours and practices essential to the team’s performance, and just as importantly, the behaviours and practices needed in order to create the right environment for individual team members to perform at their best.
The following steps walk you through a process for clarifying expectations and developing a set of Team Agreements that reflect your team members’ expectations of one another.
- Ask your team to complete the following statement: In order to be an even more effective team we need to: Start…. Stop…. Tip: Post the statement on a flip chart for everyone to see.
- Give your team members a few minutes of quiet time to independently identify what they believe the team needs to start and stop doing in order to be even more effective.
- Ask each team member to share their ideas and capture them on a flip chart.
- Once everyone has shared their ideas ask the team to identify the most important items on each list. I.e. identify 3 or 4 things the team agrees they will start doing, identify 3 or 4 things the team agrees they will to stop doing.
- This list then becomes your team agreements.
Tips For Using Team Agreements
Team Agreements will work only if they are used. Developing them once and never returning to them will not affect any changes in behaviour. Follow the below tips to ensure your team agreements work for you and your team.
- Be sure the team agreements describe visible behaviours (so you’ll know whether they are being lived up to or not).
- Post the team agreements for the team to see regularly (if possible).
- Provide positive feedback to your team. When you notice changes in behaviour and individuals living up to the team agreements, recognize them.
- Revisit the Team Agreements every 4 weeks. Review each agreement and ask, “How are we doing with this agreement?” “Can you give me some examples on how we are demonstrating this behaviour?”
- Get in the habit of regularly asking your team, “What did we do to feed the wolf of success today/this week/last week?” and “What do we need to do more of to feed the wolf of success today/this week?”
Remember, the purpose of Team Agreements is to ensure your team members have a very clear understanding of the behaviours and practices essential to your team’s effectiveness and that they take action to improve their effectiveness.
Often leaders spend a good portion of their time telling their team what they need to do to improve, however leaders that first ask their team what they think they need to do will find that behaviour and performance improves far more quickly.
Note: I suggest you set aside 30 to 45 minutes at a team meeting for this exercise.
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