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Ground Rules

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Setting Ground Rules

Teams need self-discipline, and setting operating ground rules can achieve that. Although the need for ground rules might seem to fall more appropriately under a team leader/coach’s administrative responsibilities, they actually belong under his visionary role because the ground rules will affect not only the team process or group interaction but the work to be done.

For instance, if the team will need to work with other groups to accomplish its mission, then the need for that kind of collaboration should be indicated in the ground rules with, if possible, the means to achieve it.

The following list of sample ground rules should prove helpful.

Sample Team Ground Rules

 Members will arrive on time and stay for the entire meeting.
 Meeting will be held every Thursday, from 9:30 to 11:00 A.M.
 The team will keep to the meeting agenda.
 A day before the meeting, members will receive a copy of the agenda and handouts to read so that they will come prepared for the discussion.
 The focus of the team will be on its mission; the group will not be distracted by side issues.
 The team will allow each member the chance to talk and will hear out other members without interruption.
 Assignments will be made by the group as a whole.
 Discussions will be kept to the point and professional; the focus will be on issues, not personalities.
 The team will meet with leaders of others groups once monthly to review their conclusions.
 All decisions will be reached by consensus. Disagreements will be resolved by multivoting.

To help your team formulate its own ground rules, ask team members to consider what behaviors will detract from the team’s mission and what behaviors will contribute to its achievement based on their experience on other teams.

This list of questions will also stimulate thinking:

 Where and when will meetings be held?
 How will emergency meetings be handled?
 How long will meetings last?
 How will decisions be reached?
 How will the team network with others within the organisation?
 How will the team report to its sponsor or mentor?
 How will the team handle conflicts and disagreements among its members?
 Will the team evaluate each session after the fact to help improve subsequent sessions?

Ideally, the final rules should be copied for all team members and then hung in the meeting room as a reminder to those in attendance of their commitment to the group