Deborah Mackin

Article Summary:

What are the four most important protocols for teams?

Essential Team Protocols

Over the years, we have learned the importance of having teams create their protocols -- or norms of behavior -- early in the process. Here are examples of the four protocols that are vital to teaming.

Meeting Protocol.
This protocol defines when the team's meeting will be held, how meeting roles will be rotated, when the agenda must come out, and how scribe notes and action items are maintained. The team makes a commitment to confidentiality and how many members must be present for decision making. The meeting protocol is the first document created by the team after the Help/Hinder list and the Charter.

Conflict Resolution Protocol.
This protocol outlines the behavior limits in a conflict situation and then defines the step-by-step process team members must use when surfacing a conflict. Typically, team members agree to go one-on-one first, then two-on-one, or one-on-one again the second time, and then team-on-one. This process suggests that the team handles all of its conflicts early in the process and it's only after considerable effort that the conflict ends up with the Coach.

Decision Making Protocol.
This protocol details how the team will make its decisions: which decisions will be made by consensus and which ones will be made differently. It outlines the rules of consensus, how to encourage stand-asides and how to block consensus correctly.

Membership Rotation.
For cross-functional teams, rotation is a critical issue because teams need "new blood" after the first year of working together. This protocol identifies how the team will select new members and how members will be brought onto the team satisfactorily.

Deborah Mackin is founder and president of New Directions Consulting, Inc. and author of teambuilding books, including the 2nd edition of the Team Building Tool Kit (Fall, 2007). As an international consultant and trainer for 20+ years, Deborah is a widely recognized authority on teams, quality service, productivity, and leadership. For more information, visit New Directions Consulting.

Read all advice by Deborah Mackin; Find more Team Building experts

More advice on Team Building
» Workplace Teamwork: Where NOT to Use Teams
» How Prospects and Customers View Us
» all Team Building articles