Having an Effective Team Contract
While knowledge and experience with Team Phases may be imperative for a team’s success, I also believe an effective Team Contract can be an instrumental tool in providing the needed help and guidance to successfully navigate this process.
We all, no doubt, will be asked to participate on teams for various reasons throughout our educational, professional and social lives. These teams are formed so a collective decision, report or presentation can be made. At some point we all have participated in a group, committee or team that was ineffective, disorganized or even ill tempered. A team’s ability to accomplish multiple goals, create needed structure, be efficient, meet member’s needs and keep politics in check is critical in achieving success.
The problem is how to get that positive outcome from the teams of which we are a part of. This, in most cases, can be accomplished by team members negotiating a team contract in advance of the task or project.
A team contract is a set of guidelines that each team member agrees to follow during the term of the project. The advantage when you negotiate and can get agreement to team processes at the start is that when the team is at work, there are fewer disruptions, fights, conflicts, hurt feelings, and unfulfilled needs. Teams must develop a written agreement to formalize how the team intends to organize and manage its behavior, processes and tasks. As with any contract it should be negotiated and signed by all members to indicate commitment to the success of the team.
The main purposes of a team contract are to:
• define the team’s structure.
• agree on ground rules for team members to follow.
• define team values that will serve as a guide to team member behavior.
• determine in advance how meetings, conflicts, decisions, etc., will be handled. When problems arise, the team contract will help reduce stress and make problems easier to resolve.
• ensure each team member make a formal commitment to the project.
Team members are expected to help establish and maintain ground rules, lead and participate in team meetings, attend and participate in all team building events, and provide feedback to the team leader or other members of the team.
It is impossible to plan for all contingencies. Additional agreements, arrangements or modifications may be needed as new problems are confronted. An effective team contract is an essential tool that will invariably contribute to the overall success of the team.
A Team Contract I would use for this project needing only slight adaptations: