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Using Ground Rules

Ground rules, or group norms, are used to set an agreed-on level of behavior that guides how the participants will interact with one another. Although some teams have worked together for some time and have established their own functional, unspoken ground rules, I have found that most groups benefit from a deliberate process of identifying in-bounds and out-of-bounds behavior. Over time, ground rules can help a group become self-correcting. Group members will begin correcting themselves on the basis of the norms that they have established and reinforced.

Sample Ground Rule List

1. Everyone speaks


Constructive meeting behavior is an acquired skill. By working with participants to establish ground rules, you can encourage them to contribute effectively and regain their focus when meetings start to get off track. Review a short case study that shows how applying ground rules during a meeting will keep it moving in a positive direction.