It's worse when people with opposing personal agendas, dictated by hubris, pull against each other. Political silos surface, people take sides, and morale eventually suffers.
When it becomes about "you," you can bet that team progress, creativity, and productivity is about to be stifled.
So how do you protect your team and team meetings from feeling like the drama in a bad reality-TV show?
Set Team Agreements
If your team drama has reached critical mass, it's probably time to set clear team working agreements. This sets the stage for the kind of team culture and values you want moving forward.
For example, a team agreement might be something like "We all agree to engage the discussion fully with our mission in mind." 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.
You can agree to things like:
- Attacking a problem, not a person.
- Listening to different perspectives before making a team decision.
- Being relentlessly curious and never stop asking questions to solve a problem.
- Sharing your best ideas openly and often.
- Showing up on time, ending on time, and being prepared for meetings.
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?
Implementing Your Team Agreements
If you're going to implement this concept, all team working agreements must be able to...
Lead to a sense of shared responsibility among 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 meeting process.
- Be important to the team (they are intrinsic and values-based).
- Extend the behaviors out to your customer as a way to measure satisfaction.
- Be fully supported by each member. Remember team accountability!
- Be used.
- Be consistent with all team members so there's no favoritism.
- Be signed by each member.