Team Norms

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Do you feel there are undercurrents of tension that may be sabotaging the success of your team?

No-one in particular is breaking any rules, but there's some on-going niggling, people clashes and actions that prevent your team from being all that it could be? If you do, then may be you haven't clearly, documented team norms.

What Exactly Are Team Norms?

Norms are the bridge between principles and rules.

Norms are different from rules in that rules state exactly what must occur, when and how.

Principles are more general in that they guide people but never provide the 'how' to do it.

Therefore to bridge the gap between the closely defined 'how' to do it of rules, and the more loosely defined 'guide', of principles we use norms.

In effect with norms you are saying, "This is what we normally expect to see happen, but we do understand that occasionally circumstances may cause you to perform outside the norm".

For example you may have a team norm that states

"Team members will be at their machine ready for a shift handover 10 minutes before the start of their shift".

Normally this is what occurs. However, one team member may well have a partner sick in hospital and for a period of several weeks the team is more than happy for this team member to come in at a different time.


If you haven't previously articulated team norms, rest assured your team already has in place a set of informal norms.

The challenge you face is, is that some of these norms may well not be the type that encourage high performance.

For example, maybe you have these types of informal team norms that could be creating problems:

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