Develop Ground Rules

Ground rules support an increase in team performance and have been shown to increase effectiveness in multicultural and global teams.

Ground rules can help to address:

  • Absence of trust
  • Fear of conflict
  • Lack of commitment
  • Avoidance of accountability
  • Inattention to results


  • Stuart, A. (2014). Ground rules for a high performing team. Paper presented at PMI Global Congress 2014—North America, Phoenix, AZ. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
  • Govindarajan, V., and Gupta, A.K. (2001). Building an effective global business team. MIT Sloan Management Review, 42(4), 63-71.
  • Lencioni, P. (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A leadership fable. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • respect

    Attitude and Culture

    • We treat each other with respect.
    • We develop personal relationships to enhance trust and open communication.
    • We value constructive feedback. We avoid being defensive and give feedback in a constructive manner.
    • We seek to understand others’ points of view.
    • We establish and maintain a supportive group climate, but also confront difficult issues when necessary.
    • We thank team members for their efforts on behalf of the team.
    • We recognize and celebrate individual and team accomplishments.

  • team

    Team Meetings

    • We will hold a regular scheduled meeting on… (insert day and time).
    • All team members are expected to attend team meetings.
    • Members will be fully present during team meetings (e.g., not checking their phone or emails).
    • The team leader can cancel or reschedule a team meeting if sufficient team members are unavailable or there is insufficient subject matter to warrant a meeting.
    • The team leader will publish and distribute an agenda by email by… (insert day and time).
    • Meetings start on time and end on time.
    • An action item list with responsibilities will be maintained, reviewed in meetings and distributed with the meeting minutes.
    • No responsibilities will be delegated unless the person assigned the responsibility accepts them.
    • The responsibility for taking and distributing meeting minutes will rotate monthly among core team members.
    • Meeting minutes will be distributed within 24 hours after the meeting.
    • We emphasize full discussion and resolution of issues vs. sticking to a timetable. Alternately, meetings stay on topic. If discussion wanders, issues are put in the “parking lot” for another meeting.

  • communication

    Communication and Decision-making

    • One person talks at a time; there are no side discussions.
    • Each person is given a chance to speak their mind while respecting the group’s time and the meeting timetables. We will be brief and focus on facts, not opinions.
    • We emphasize open and honest communication; there are no hidden agendas. Conflict is openly and directly addressed.
    • We de-personalize discussion of issues so there are no attacks on people.
    • We listen, are non-judgmental and keep an open mind on issues until it is time to decide.
    • We value balanced participation of all team members. No one dominates; everyone participates.
    • Decisions are reached by consensus.

  • administration

    Planning and Management

    • We mutually commit to our team’s objectives as stated in the team charter or negotiate until we can make a mutual commitment.
    • We accept the responsibility and accountability along with the authority given to us.
    • We maintain the teamwork plan and schedule each month.
    • If a team member believes they are being asked to do a task outside the scope of the team’s charter, they will bring this to the attention of the team leader for resolution.
    • When we pose an issue or a problem, we also try to present a solution.
    • Team commitments should not be made lightly, but we will keep those that we do make.
    • As team members, we pitch in to help where necessary (e.g., to help solve problems, catch up on behind schedule work).

  • flag

    Maintaining Ground Rules

    • Everyone is responsible for enforcing the ground rules.
    • We conduct process checks when one member believes we are deviating from our ground rules.
    • Ground rules will be reviewed at a specific date and revised as needed