Work Agreements are the third Element of Right-Minded Teamwork’s 5 Elements framework. They are used to transform unproductive, dysfunctional behavior into positive and constructive work behavior.
The 10 steps involved in creating Work Agreements are outlined in the book How to Facilitate Team Work Agreements: A Practical, 10-Step Process for Building a Right-Minded Team That Works as One.
This book is written primarily for team facilitators, but leaders and teammates can easily follow along to build Work Agreements, too.
What Are Work Agreements?
Work Agreements are team covenants or vows that transform teammates’ dysfunctional and non-productive behavior into team cohesiveness and accomplishment.
Work Agreements are not guidelines or ground rules. They are emotionally mature promises that guide a team to work collaboratively towards the shared goal of achieving customer satisfaction.
If you’ve ever been part of a team, you know it is not a matter of if conflict will occur among teammates. It is a question of when.
Teammates may function at acceptable levels for a while, but eventually, they will decline into separateness and self-interest.
It is far better to have Work Agreements in place before teammate disagreements happen. Established Work Agreements can serve to mitigate and even make positive use of those clashes when they occur. However, even if your team is already in conflict, it’s still not too late (and will never be!) to create and live team Work Agreements.
Creating Work Agreements
To create Work Agreements, leaders and teammates must openly discuss unresolved interpersonal or work process issues and together agree on what acceptable behavior looks like going forward. Emotionally mature and productive teammates intentionally create Work Agreements because they have experienced the benefits of a unified team with shared interests and common goals.
In my 35 years of active team building, I facilitated over 500 teams around the globe, many of them beautifully diverse and multicultural. Every single team created Work Agreements and succeeded as a result.
Work Agreements work when teammates live them.
The process for facilitating Work Agreements is not complicated. Nonetheless, becoming proficient in facilitating their creation takes dedication and a willingness to learn. As you practice, you will make mistakes, especially in the beginning. Don’t give up. Your mistakes will not hurt your teams – I promise. The long-lasting benefits you will bring to the team as you improve your facilitation skills will far outweigh any initial missteps.
By following the steps in the book How to Facilitate Team Work Agreements: A Practical, 10-Step Process for Building a Right-Minded Team That Works as One, you can learn how to facilitate Work Agreements for your team.
Two Types of Work Agreements
Work Agreements may be process-driven or behavior-driven.
A process Work Agreement describes who will do what task and which work method they will use. It defines work tasks in terms of roles, responsibilities, interfaces, or procedures.
A behavioral Work Agreement describes how people will behave while performing tasks, such as the ways teammates will bring to light, communicate, and resolve difficult performance issues or teammate conflicts. This type of Work Agreement aims for transparency in all interpersonal interactions.
What is “Right” in Right-Minded Teamwork?
It is worth stating and restating: Right-Minded Teamwork has nothing to do with right-brain thinking or right-wing viewpoints.
RMT has everything to do with what you and your teammates collectively decide is “right.”
Your team’s choices – captured in your team Work Agreements – on what acceptable work behavior and efficient processes look like define your team’s Right-Minded Teamwork “thought system.” The “right” way of doing, being, and behaving is the way that is right for your team.
The “right” way is how your team decides you will do no harm and work as one.
So, how do you start the team’s discussion about what is right?
You begin by introducing Right-Minded Teamwork to your team (see below: get started with a FREE ebook) and applying the tools and exercises – especially team Work Agreements – that are presented in these books.
It’s Updated: How to Facilitate Team Work Agreements
This book and seven others have been updated and will be republished in a few months. Please, enter your email here to be notified when they are available.
When you drop your name and address in this list, we have a FREE gift for you: Defining Teammate Roles & Responsibilities Excercise using only four questions. I used this exercise in hundreds of teams and they loved it and you will too.
Why Consider Right-Minded Teamwork?
There are many common “team-building” practices out there. Three common team-building avenues include: education, games, and social events. As far as real team building goes, none of these approaches is effective. Not one of them produces proven reliable results.
If you have participated in them, you know what I mean. (For more on why such exercises are not reliable team-building tools, read this article, “10 Worst Team Building Exercises.”)
Still, many well-meaning team leaders continue to use these ineffective tactics, trying to make them work. Usually, this is because they do not realize there is a better way.
Real-World Team-Building: The Better Way!
A real-world team-building approach is the better way. It is also the most reliable way to achieve and sustain high-performance teamwork because it directly addresses real issues in a non-confrontational and compassionate way.
NEWS: Right-Minded Teamwork is a real-world, team-building process. Applied intentionally, it has the power to transform your team, bringing you together to work as one, and allow you to achieve – or even exceed! – your team’s goals.
Learn More – Get Started for FREE
Reason, Ego & the Right-Minded Teamwork Myth: the Philosophy and Process for Creating a Right-Minded Teamwork Works together as One is a thorough and comprehensive introduction to this ultimate and real-world team-building method.
The ebook will always be FREE so why not download it now? Scan the content and read what grabs your attention, and I promise you will know if Right-Minded Teamwork is for you and your team.
If you say “yes” to RMT, everything you need to create and sustain Right-Minded Teamwork is in these eight books.
Dan Hogan, Certified Master Facilitator