Establishing Norms

In team workshops centered around sharing personal experiences and challenges, we've been experimenting with establishing norms. I introduced the idea in a team-wide coaching workshop weeks ago, and it seemed to open the group up to more honest conversation.

For many, speaking openly in front of a room or Zoom full of people is not easy. Even if there's trust among the group, it's hard to be vulnerable.

Establishing norms means that the group accepts each norm as fact. It means that the space they occupy is safe and free of judgment.

Here are the norms we've experimented with so far:

  • We all can be better collaborators.
  • We believe feedback is information.
  • We trade all judgment for curiosity.
  • We communicate openly and honestly.

The times we've done this, I've displayed them at the start of the meeting and asked for volunteers to read each one. To me, this is a special moment. It's inspiring to hear your peers commit to these statements out loud. In our first workshop, I asked everyone to follow up in the chat with "yes" or "agreed." I love seeing the responses flow in as each norm is read.

I'm looking forward to evolving this idea further in future workshops. The hope is that, down the line, these will become commonplace. Even if we continue to recite them together, they'll be an integral part of our team's DNA.