In Part 1 of this series we explored the nature of team covenants, how they are different from team agreements or contracts, the critical importance of trust and the benefits they potentially bring to team members, team leaders and the organization itself. In Part 2 I outline steps to establish a team covenant that is fit for purpose and is owned by members and leaders alike.
Steps to Establishing a Team Covenant
In my opinion, team covenants are best developed in workshop type meetings including the team leader and all team members. While generally the team leader would facilitate such meetings, there may be times when this could best be undertaken by a team member with the relevant skills, or an external consultant. The number of workshops to be held would depend upon the time available to process each of the following steps. However, I would mainly recommend two whole of team meetings: the first to address steps 1 – 6 and another for step 8. As you will see step 7 is undertaken by a small task group.
- Explain and Explore
Begin by introducing the subject of teams and team covenants:
- Ask people to name the various teams they’ve belonged to
- Any of those teams had a team covenant, agreement or contract?
- How helpful were those covenants, agreements or contracts? What worked, what didn’t?
2. Facilitator Explains Difference between Covenants, Agreements and Contracts
(See explanation in Part 1 of this article)
3. Display, Review and Discuss Organization’s DNA: Foundational Mission/Purpose, Basic Beliefs, Core
Values, Motivational Vision.
- Disucss: How should that be factored into our Team Covenant?
4. Other Values to Cover
- Brainstorm universal transcultural values (eg. respect, trustworthiness, fairness, honesty, kindness, support, fun, collaboration)
- As covenants are relationally based, what transcultural values would be important to include for our team?
- Brainstorm suggested values and list on whiteboard
5. Voting on Values – Organization’s & Transcultural
- Individuals vote using 7 sticky dots each. May use more than 1 dot per each value Total votes and discuss results and reasons
- In light of discussion any changes?
6. Appoint Small Task Group
- Team appoints a small task group comprising the team leader and 2-3 others to draft a team covenant in light of above discussions. (I suggest the total number of recommended values be no more than 7 – people find it too hard to remember more than that.)
- The draft needs to help team members focus their role in delivering the organization’s mission and vision, be congruent with the organization’s core values and reflect the team’s values as identified in Step 5
7. Task Group Meets
8. Presentation & Finalisation
- Draft is presented to team for ownership, including opportunity for any amendments
- Because of her/his accountability as leader, the team leader makes the final decision
- Copies of final version given to each member with master copy being signed by all
A Final Word
While team covenants will prove beneficial for members and leaders of all organizations, they are particularly valuable for teams in those groups and organizations that are formed around a shared cause, eg. environmental sustainability, social justice, faith formation. Cause-based groups usually comprise members who are driven primarily by a shared passion rather than personal financial considerations. In such settings, a shared team covenant helps leaders and members work together to fulfil the organization’s mission and vision in accordance with its beliefs and values without the potential distraction of members’ unwise actions that might result in reputational damage. This can be especially true for voluntary groups that are particularly passionate about their cause.