Tuesday, January 3, 2012

7 Agreements of a Team

I have been fortunate enough to hire many people over the course of my corporate career. I typically have and maintain great relationships with my staff because what you see is what you get. I work well with people who ask direct questions, care about the quality of their work, challenge status-quo, focus on continuous improvement, like to laugh and are passionate about delivering the best . I accept that not everyone has the ability or personality to work that way. I try to be sensitive and understanding of those who need a more delicate environment without tiptoeing around outrageous, unkind or dishonest behaviors.

After some recent turnover on my team, I find myself wondering if my " 7 Team Agreements" are useful concepts to share with newly hired staff. I suppose it makes me "old school" when it comes to communication in the workplace because I actually think teams should talk face-to-face and try to resolve issues like adults rather than whine and badmouth others. I even tend to think its acceptable for a leader to ask about progress on assignments, give input and manage the reputation of the brand over areas which he/she is held accountable. But then that makes me a micro-manager. I even believe it's helpful to have a roadmap to conduct crucial conversations and good leaders should design the basic framework through shared agreements. Finally, as the evil boss lady, I am very open to the team recreating, adding to or changing the agreements. The workplace can be fun and productive. So I turn to the blogosphere for honest, unbiased, even anonymous feedback. As a new hire, how would you feel if your boss shared these with you?

1. Integrity
This involves being true to principled behavior and honesty even when no one is watching. This means you are supportive and loyal to your team even when they or are not around and especially in front of customers or clients. Agree to show up on time and be where you have been asked to be. Don't be sneaky. Integrity requires a high level of maturity and even sometimes self-sacrifice. If we make mistakes, (and we all will) let's own it, live with consequences, forgive and move on.

2. Communication
Verbal and written communication skills are critical to being an effective team and serving customers or clients. Never rely solely on e-mail, pick up the phone and talk to people. If necessary, go visit the person. Have lots of face-to-face conversations. Communication also involves listening and asking good questions. When you are unsure of a task or directive, ask! Sometimes a leader will have to make decisions that you do not agree with, be mature and professional about it. If you have issues, address directly with your leader first. Good leaders will always honestly discuss it with you.

3. Service
Be a host, not a guest at events. Serving others is a noble purpose greater than just doing the work. Seek to help people. Talk to people and find out about their needs, wants and how we might help them. Don't ever clump in a corner at an event. Be out and among the people we are there to serve or taking care of volunteers who are helping us. Let's be kind to each other even if one of us is having a bad day. If you have a problem with the leader or one another, find time discuss it. Honestly and maturely. Gossiping is a weak, spectator sport. It's never healthy or fun for anyone. You can even hurt people with your negative words. Don't. Let's be of better service than that to one another.

4. Confidence
Demonstrate confidence in your area of expertise. This involves your ability to respond and react in uncertain situations with a level of certainty. No one has all the answers, but you are in your role because you have been selected to be effective. While professional development is important, no course or workshop can give you confidence, practice it first in the smallest things. If someone corrects you, don't take it personally. It does not mean you are inferior or they are better, it's just that sometimes others can see things you might not see. Be confident enough to take constructive criticism.

5. Innovation
Always look for ways to improve existing systems and processes. Never get stuck in doing things the same way over and over again. If you have conducted an event or task once, look for a way to make it better the second time around. Do not be afraid to suggest a better way to do our work. If something you want or need in your work does not exist, create it and share it with the team. We might even have fun doing things in a new way!

6. Consistency
The power of our brand, external reputation and credibility lies in us being consistent in the delivery of our services. Without losing our individuality, let's find and agree on general approaches to deliver our consultations consistently. If each of us uses a different philosophy, we risk losing credibility and any value we might bring singularly or collectively. If you disagree with anything we're doing or our approaches become outdated, propose a new philosophy, process or system so we can all improve.

7. Timely Follow-Through
If you are given a task complete it or get answers in a timely manner. If you find yourself unsure of the definition of timely or what to do next: ASK. No one expects you to know everything. If you have too many assignments or priorities let your boss know. If you need other resources to complete your task, let your boss know. Avoid always coming to the table with a problem, come with a recommended solution on how we can make it better. Never dump and run when things get tough or you are uncertain about how to handle a situation. Ask for help, we're in this together. 

Are these reasonable? Overwhelming? Do you agree or disagree with any of these? Why? What would you add? I need to hear from you, leave your comments below...