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Team Agreements

When helping teams get started with Scrum we recommend that they create a set of Working Agreements. These are helpful because they define what behaviour is expected by the team from it’s members. Teams without working agreements often end up with members feeling dissatisfied with other people’s behaviour, but without any concrete way to explain why that behaviour is unacceptable.

For example, I might feel that working from home regularly is great as I can avoid traffic, but my team members might feel that when I do work from home I don’t contribute as much to helping the team. Unless we have a firm agreement on what is acceptable to everyone on the team for working from home, I might continue working from home, blissfully unaware that my team mates are getting more and more angry with me.

When setting up agreements we recommend keeping the following in mind:

  • Make sure the agreement is something within the team’s control. For example if the team doesn’t have any say over budget, don’t include agreements about who can do external training courses.
  • Make sure the team agreements have a fair impact on everyone in the team. For example if you have team members in India, and team members in the US, don’t make standups at 9am US time, and have the Indian team members have to stay late every evening.
  • Make sure your agreements are a living document that gets updated over time. The agreements that work today, might not work in the future. It’s especially important to review your agreements when new team members join.
  • Make sure your agreements are short – maybe 4 or 5 points. Any more than that and people won’t remember what they are. If everyone on the team already does something automatically, don’t make it an agreement. Keep agreements for the areas or topics that might cause conflict.
  • Make sure your agreements are visible. We like a poster on the wall. This helps remind people what they are, and encourages them to call each other on the behaviour. (The team should create this poster, not the ScrumMaster.)

We created some Team Agreement cards with suggested topics that we use to help team members decide what is important for them. They don’t need agreements on them all, but this will help them identify some common areas. We themed them under the following: Be kind, Be available, Be on time, Be involved and Be proactive. We also created some cards you can print out with Sam’s lovely artwork 🙂


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