Ground RulesWhen I was about 9 or 10, I lived in a neighborhood where the children all gathered at one house on any given summer day, and played a game. It might be kick the can, or hunter and the wolf, or kickball, but it was always a game with ground rules.  It was important to know the rules before you joined in, or else you’d quickly find yourself out of luck and ‘it’.

It’s the same situation for our team work and our meetings.  It’s important to know and agree to the rules so that the team is cohesive, the team gets things done and is as productive as possible.

How to set ground rules

  1. Set the ground rules as a team.
  2. Set the ground rules for every team you lead.  Ground rules may be different from team to team.  In one case I had a team that allowed cursing during team meetings.  Other teams would not find that professional.  Let them decide, but all need to commit to the rules.
  3. Make sure everyone commits.  If someone indicates that they disagree with a ground rule, have more discussion and see if you can come up with a compromise.


Kinds of ground rules

  1. Do we allow more than one person speaking at a time?
  2. What technology is allowed?
  3. How will decisions be made?
  4. What is done for people who are absent?
  5. How will we handle disagreements or disrespect?
  6. Will we require agendas and action items?  Who is responsible for that?
  7. What does commitment mean for team members?
  8. Is anything confidential?
  9. What do we do if someone is too long winded?


No matter what the team decides, they should be posted for every meeting and referred to at the beginning of every meeting.  This keeps everyone on board and accountable to the commitments that have already been made.

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