This is a short reading about how to keep team agreements alive following a workshop or a meeting.

Following a retrospective, offsite meeting or team building activities we promise to each other:

  • we want to be focused on the vision
  • live the values we agreed on
  • we commit to deliver what we promised
  • we stop “bad talk” about other teams
  • we respect each other
  • we do not interrupt when someone is talking
  • we do not make sarcastic comments
  • we value diversity
  • etc.

In the past, we made the experience of not following the agreements what we commit to doing. Why? We can only guess here: it requires a new behavioral adaptation, we need some time to get used to acting within the team as we agreed on. In other words, discipline, structure, and ownership are required.

Sounds familiar?

Those are valuable, trust building and collaboration enhancing behaviors. We put those behaviors for good reasons: we would like to work as a team and be successful in whatever we do. We want to work differently then we did before. And we all agree on that, we commit.

We know it is essential for us to succeed, so we have to follow it. If we do not support, our team “is not working”correctly, or things are going in the wrong direction.

If something is not working in a factory, production line or the direction of results are not the expected one, and then someone pushes the “emergency” button. They stop the activities. People come together and see what has happened and take corrective actions.

We need this kind of “emergency button” in teamwork as well, until we have the right attitude and behavior established in the team.

We have made the positive experience of using a “reception bell” with teams.

How does it work?

Whenever someone breaks an agreement, people take responsibility and make everyone accountable to call the behavior, which is out of the team agreement: ring the bell: “BINGGGG”….and then say nothing, until it gets realized by everyone why the bell rung. This is a good time for some minutes of conversation and reflection. Dialogue is key to awareness. It is not to blame someone; it is taking responsibility and calling out behaviors which undermine the teamwork.

In the first days, the bell will ring often and later on it will be less and less.

The noise of ringing bell is most of the time fun. People enjoy it so that sometimes they make use of it even before “breaking” the agreement.

To my surprise, I saw the “ring” signs in the e-mails as well.

We made a small survey on the team performance for the time of 4 weeks, and people reported that they had improved their teamwork with the increased awareness and follow-up.

Reception bell costs ca. 10$/€ and you have a lot of fun.