Ground rules to set you up for success
Project management, today, has many challenges - the most important being people management. Managing people is not an easy task. Conflicts crop up among people everyday.
So what is the solution?
It's simple - effective utilization of team ground rules.
Ground rules are policies and guidelines which a group establishes consciously to help individual members decide how to act. To be effective, ground rules must be clear, consistent, agreed-to, and followed. Team ground rules define a behavioral model which addresses how individuals treat each other, communicate, participate, cooperate, and support each other in joint activities.
A team should create and adopt written ground rules in the project planning stage. They should be added to and revised as and when required. Every project has a unique team and functional structure. Ground rules need to be defined considering project organization in detail. A few factors to be considered are:
- Team location: Location of the team is essential in defining ground rules. A combination of stationary and virtual teams would require additional ground rules.
- Team ethnicity: Consider the ethnicity of the team members and add few ground rules for effective team work.
- Project duration: Ground rules are important for any project irrespective of the length of the project. Consider the length of the project for defining urgency of implementation.
- Team skills and expertise: Team members should have a mix of skills and expertise in the domain to ensure the success of a project.
- Be on time for all team meetings.
- Team leader must create and disseminate agendas for each team meeting.
- Team leader must create and disseminate minutes after each team meeting.
- Attend full duration of all team meetings unless a case of emergency.
- Avoid informal/social talk during team meetings.
- Build in brief informal/social talk time before or after team meetings.
- Be patient with alternative viewpoints, different kinds of learners, writers, & speakers.
- No responsibilities to be assigned unless the person who is being assigned the responsibility accepts it. If a person to be given a responsibility is not at the meeting, the team leader must review that assignment or action item with the person before the responsibility is designated.
- Set aside a regular weekly meeting time that’s kept open by all members from week to week.
- Keep the meeting schedule flexible, arranging meetings as needed and based on availability.
- Require consensus on all major team decisions.
- Avoid apathetic/passive decision making (e.g., “whatever you all think is right”).
- Inform team leader if unable to complete work on time.
- Seek reader/listener feedback before handing in all deliverables.
- Set deadlines for each deliverable in advance of due date to allow for collaborative revisions.
Team attitude and culture
- Rotate responsibilities so each person gets experience with several aspects regardless of quality or qualifications.
- Make criticisms constructive with suggestions for improvement and non-judgmental language.
- Confront issues directly and promptly.
- Promptly relay all interpersonal concerns/conflicts to team leaders.
- Keep a positive attitude toward the team, individual members, projects and course.
- Take initiative by offering ideas and volunteering for tasks.
- Play an equal role in the team by contributing equally to every task.
- Be honest with any team member who is not pulling her/his weight.
- Help one another with difficult or time consuming deliverables.
- Ask for help from the team or other resources if “stuck” or falling behind.
- Treat each other with respect.
- Accept responsibility and accountability along with the authority given.
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