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Setting Yourself Up for Effective Collaboration Sessions

Establishing Group Norms
November 28, 2023 10:00 am

Group dynamics play an essential role in the success of any team or organization. A team must have a set of guidelines or norms to ensure everyone is working together towards a common goal. Establishing group norms is one of the most effective ways to maintain a cooperative and supportive environment.

Norms can be defined as explicit or implicit rules of behaviour that are agreed upon by the group. Establishing norms is crucial to create a proactive tool for minimizing conflict and managing dysfunction. When everyone in the group agrees to the norms, it creates a sense of ownership and accountability, which leads to better outcomes.

Establishing Group Norms for Collaborative Work

Norms are best when established by group members. This can be done anonymously, individually, in pairs, in sub-groups, or with the entire group. It is important to post the norms as a reminder to the team and to revisit them every four to six meetings, especially when new members join the group. Referring to the norms when they are broken is the best method for minimizing conflict.

Meeting Norms

In addition to establishing norms for collaborative work, there are also best practices for before and during meetings. For hybrid meetings, it is important to have strong norms to encourage effective meeting behaviours. Some norms to consider include:

  • Set up all technology and test it before starting the meeting
  • All attendees must be located in a suitable environment with minimal distractions and a quiet atmosphere
  • Avoid passive meeting attendance, and only team members who are willing to contribute should attend
  • Review technical protocols at the beginning of each meeting
  • Treat cameras as if they are participants and keep them on, except for specific agreed reasons to be off camera
  • Have an in-room participant as an advocate for remote participants, ensuring they are being heard and participating equitably
  • Take notes or highlights that will be visible to all and reviewed periodically as part of any action planning

The Values That Inform Our Norms

It is important to note that norms should be specific to the group and its values. If an activity does not work for everyone, find a work-around that will. For example, if “chat” is not available to in-room participants, limit its use to flagging technical challenges for remote participants.

Additionally, create a slight bias in favor of remote participants to overcome the inherent bias towards in-room participants. For instance, invite remote participants to speak first when sharing ideas or feedback.

Establishing group norms is an essential tool for effective collaboration and maintaining a supportive environment. Involve all group members in establishing norms. Post these norms as reminders. Periodically revisit the norms. Doing this creates a sense of ownership and accountability. This will lead to better outcomes.

Having strong norms for hybrid meetings is crucial for effective meeting behavior. Always keep in mind the values that inform the norms to ensure everyone is included and feels supported.

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