A working agreement is a set of mutually agreed-upon behaviour expectations or guidelines, rules or principles that team or group members follow to achieve the goal(s) they are committed to achieve. It is a powerful vehicle to ensure collaboration, productivity, engagement, and a positive working environment.
Working agreements are typically created and owned by the team or group members collectively, encouraging a sense of ownership and accountability among team or group members.
A working agreement can be used for a stable teams, and can also be used with a group of people in a workshop.
Benefits of Working Agreements
There is a long list of benefits. Just to name a few, it can keep keep everyone stay on the same page, give them clear guidance about their behaviours, help reduce conflict, build trust, and improve communication. It can also make it easier to hold team members accountable since there is a written record of what was agreed upon. It can also remind the team what they agreed to work with difficult situations such as conflicts, challenges, or repeating disturbing behaviours.
So making a working agreement visible helps make it even more powerful.
This can be priceless for people as when people work in a team setting, they may always feel uncertain about what to do, what to say, or what to act. Creating a working agreement can give them comfort and remove the stress of not being sure of their responsibilities. Role confusion and role conflicts are leading stress factors in a professional environment.
All in all, creating a layer of certainty for a team or group setting can go quite far.
Characteristics of Good Working Agreements
No matter how you plan to introduce Working Agreement to your teams, please make sure that Working Agreements:
- are developed by the team or group
- describe positive behaviours that need to be present to be effective
- are simple and direct
- limited in number (it is not an essay)
- are revisited from time to time, or as needed
- can be shared with a new member in less than 30 seconds
- are visible as much as possible
In general, for Working Agreements to work, they have to be important to the team, direct, and supported by each team member.
The facilitation of a Working Agreement for a team or a workshop can be different, but Working Agreement will serve the team or workshop beautifully.
To learn more about Working Agreement, and to learn and practice about Working Agreement and also other tools to support teams and workshops, you can join our Certified Facilitator workshop, a highly interactive and practice based workshop.