Please Share

How to Define Team Ground Rules | Video

How to Define Team Ground Rules | Video

Ground rules. What are they, does your project team need them, and how to set and maintain them if it does? That’s what we’ll look at in this video.

This video is safe for viewing in the workplace.

This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy

What are Ground Rules?

Ground rules set out a code of conduct for a team. They explain the behaviors that everyone needs to follow.

Ideally, your team should create its own set of ground rules, rather than the Project manager imposing them. But, of course, some contexts will demand certain ground rules apply.

Examples of these are where you are working in domains of high security or where there are safety-critical activities. But even here, you’ll usually find that, once team members understand the priorities, they will set appropriate ground rules for themselves.

Teams will always be more likely to accept and abide by ground rules they’ve set themselves. A good set of ground rules will establish clear expectations and reduce uncertainty and ambiguity.

However, where is a team is familiar with one-another – or where they all come from the same prevailing organizational culture – it is quite possible you will not need to set ground rules at all. They will be implicit in the existing norms of behavior – how people already expect to work together.

Ground Rules and Team Charter

In a Project Management environment, the team’s ground rules are likely to be a part of a wider Team Charter. This would include things like:

  • Shared values
  • Ground rules and expectations
  • Processes (like decision-making and conflict resolution)
  • Tools we use
  • Authority

How to Set the Ground Rules

Here’s a basic process I would use to set Project Team Ground Rules:

  • Decide what is non-negotiable
    I am likely to include things like ethical standards, respect, honesty, and integrity
    • Your organization
    • Your client
    • Yourself, as project manager
  • Facilitate a team conversation about ground rules.
    Explain what they are, why they are important, and how you plan to develop them.
  • Ask your team to think about past work and project environments.
    What were the characteristics of good and bad environment?
  • Based on these conversations, ask the team to suggest candidates for ground rules they want.
  • Add your own, if they aren’t there.
  • Now ask the team to remove duplicates, arrange them in order, and tidy up the wording.
  • Once everyone agrees, post these ground rules where everyone can see them
  • Revisit them in project team meetings – and review them if necessary.

What to Include in Your Ground Rules

Ground rules are likely to cover things like:

  • Time-keeping
  • Inclusion, tolerance, respect
  • Responsibility and accountability – individual and shared
  • Fairness
  • Contribution and being heard
  • Social aspects of the team
  • Confidentiality

Sticking to Your Ground Rules

It’s your responsibility as Project Manager (and team leader) to enforce the ground rules and deal with violations. But, the team will often do this for you. If they don’t – act quickly, but in a measured way. At the extreme, you may need to discipline a team member – or remove them from the team.

Carefully curated video recommendations for you:

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

Learn Still More

For more great Project Management videos, please subscribe to the OnlinePMCourses YouTube channel.

If you want basic Management Courses – free training hosted on YouTube, with 2 new management lessons a week, check out our sister channel, Management Courses.

For more of our Project Management videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management.

For more of our videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management

How to Define Team Ground Rules | Video Click To Tweet

About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

follow me on: