Rules of Engagement for Teams


Last week I received a call from one of our clients...she was overly frustrated and her exact words to me were...

“I am done. I just don’t know how to get my team to talk to each other instead of yelling and being sarcastic with each other.”

I immediately knew the feeling of what she was dealing with so we set aside some time to talk about boundaries and expectations. This environment with her team didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t going to be fixed overnight.

This leader had a good team. They all communicated well and worked together well. She was good at getting them to collaborate on new ideas and projects and she fostered an environment of respect...but a few changes over the last year had caused this team to split and now this leader was dealing with issues she had never had to worry about before.

In many cases, leaders who are lucky enough to pull together a team that works well with each other may not see the rift forming until it’s too late. When the conversation of boundaries and expectations come up during training...Carol and I hear...we don’t need to do that. We all love each other and we are one big happy family. They know what is expected of them...

Even the best teams set boundaries and expectations. Because when change happens, and you know it will, you’re left here...where we began this article. You become frustrated and find your time being eaten up by managing human resource issues for a team that can’t seem to get along.

During our Conflict Resolution Module in the Brilliant Leader Program, we talk about creating rules around conflict. We call them ‘Rules of Engagement.’ 

Our Rules of Engagement are easy and simple:

  1. Set Clear Boundaries

  2. Set Clear Expectations

Setting Clear Boundaries 

This is where Carol and I get the most kickback. Setting boundaries...doesn’t everyone know how to talk to each other?...doesn’t everyone know how to treat each other with respect? My gosh...are you telling me that I have to teach my team how to work together?

Yes! That’s what we’re telling you. 

We love Brene’ Browns method of having everyone on the team share one thing that they need from the team to feel supported and one thing that will shut them down immediately.

For order for me to feel comfortable with a team I need them to understand that it takes time for me to process change. I am totally open to change, but you have to give me a bit of time to take it in and understand how it effects me and the global picture.

The one thing that will shut me down is if anyone on the team personally attacks me. You can attack my ideas and suggestions, but don’t make them personal.

By doing this exercise with your team they begin to understand each other. And when someone crosses those boundaries is when you see unrest, disconnection, and rifts within your team.

Setting Clear Expectations

The second rule...setting clear expectations for your team. Everyone knows what they are supposed to do...until they don’t. When they don’t it causes all kinds of issues and takes up more of your precious time.

A few weeks ago a client said to me...I love that my team member jumps ahead and takes initiative to get things done but they are not always things I want done. She said she seeks forgiveness instead of asking permission. Instead of calling her out when this happens, she tells herself that she’s grateful the team member is working so hard and she’s lucky to have such a hardworking team member.

Setting expectations for your team is the best way to keep the above from happening to you. Just imagine what this team member can accomplish when she knows exactly what her leader wants and needs from her.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the’s that my expectations and your expectations are sure to be different if we don’t discuss them. And when you don’t discuss of you will end up frustrated, angry and let down. 

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Our Brilliant Leader Program coaches leaders through creating and communicating Rules of Engagement and setting well as our amazing Color Code Communication System. 

Our next kick off of the Brilliant Leader starts early 2019. If you’re interested in being notified, you can respond to this email and say - Keep me in the loop. Or click the button below to add your email address and we will notify you before we kick off! Those folks on our early notification list always get a special discount that isn’t offered to the general public!