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.
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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.
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:
Here’s a basic process I would use to set Project Team Ground Rules:
Ground rules are likely to cover things like:
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.
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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.
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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 ProjectManager.com 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.
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