Does managing a team ever feel like an episode straight out of The Bachelor? If the drama is killing morale, one of the best ways to ax it and get people back on the wagon to perform at a high level is to set clear team working agreements.

For example, a team agreement might be something like "We all agree to participate fully." It works because it's based on team accountability. If one member of the team isn't pulling his or her weight, the others will notice and should call that member on it.

Before elements of team agreements are framed and posted on your hallways and conference rooms, it needs to first be lived out daily! Otherwise, all you have is a portrait on the wall.

And they should be tracked as part of your employees' performance management cycle so you can support and develop those principles in your team members. Otherwise, how is it sustainable? How will your co-workers, clients and customers know the behaviors?

The Framework for Implementing Team Agreements

If you're going to implement this concept, all team working agreements must...

  • Lead to a sense of shared responsibility amongst team members.
  • Increase awareness of each member's own behavior, so they know where the gaps are.
  • Empower the manager to lead the team according to those agreements.
  • Enhance the quality of the group process.
  • Be important to the team (they are intrinsic and values-based).
  • Also extend the behaviors out to your customer (if applicable), as a way to measure satisfaction.
  • Be limited in number (approximately 7).
  • Be fully supported by each member. Remember team accountability!
  • Be used! Members should be reminded of agreements during status checks, scrums, and meetings.
  • Be consistent with all team members -- no favoritism. When members break an agreement, that person is reminded of the commitment and accountability to the agreement.
  • Be signed by each member.

Examples of team agreements:

  • Attack a problem, not a person.
  • Listen to others points of view without prejudice.
  • Be relentlessly curious. Never stop asking questions.
  • Best ideas win, so share them openly and often.
  • Show up on time, and if you cannot, contact the group.
  • Be prepared for meetings.
  • Be willing to take risks.
  • Be committed to ending on time.

What team agreements have worked out well for your team?