Working Agreements: Getting Started

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Working agreements have quickly become an essential part of modern, successful teams. You may have heard the term thrown around, especially as new teams form, but is it worth discussing with your own team?

Let’s start with the definition: Working agreements are norms or guidelines created by a team to enhance their interactions for higher performance and create a common language. Practically, these agreements set group expectations, lay out ways to collaborate, and establish the kind of atmosphere required for empathetic, psychologically safe work.

Working agreements are often used in the context of Agile but can be used by any team. Through the working agreement process, teams become equipped with a heightened awareness of interaction between individuals. 

Why use working agreements?

It’s easy to jump into projects with new teams, but working agreements create the kind of solid foundation required for high-performing collaboration, especially between individuals from different backgrounds, assumptions, and experiences.

Working agreements are used by teams because they:

  • Empower shared responsibility across all team members
  • Enable proactive planning for team success
  • Encourage techniques and guidelines for impactful collaboration
  • Promote desired behaviors and kindly correct undesired behaviors
  • Increase awareness of individual behaviors and communication styles within a team

How do we get started?

To begin, set the context of working agreements with your team. As a group, you can use (physical or digital) whiteboards, sticky notes, worksheets, or flipcharts.

There are a few major questions that you’ll want to cover together:

  • Why does this team exist? Discuss the value you provide as a team and your goals.
  • What’s in it for each team member? Consider individual motivations from every team member.
  • What working agreements should we set? To be successful, what behaviors should the team encourage or discourage, what practices will maintain accountability, and when should agreements be revisited? Continue reading here…

Via: Bonusly Blog

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