I will be the first to admit that I thought that norms are glorified rules. We are all professionals. Let’s just behave that way. I also knew that it was good practice to have norms so I imposed them on others. I’ve had a change of heart.
In February, I have had several meetings where time has been taken to create norms together. I really questioned the purpose of this. Why spend a half hour talking about norms instead of getting straight to work? My time is precious. Let’s get it done. The time we took to create the norms actually proved to be useful.
At one particular meeting, Ann Craig took the time to build consensus around the phrase Be positive. The discussion was powerful to talk about positivity versus solution-focused. We ended up agreeing on Be solution-focused. This phrase of being solution-focused has become my mantra.
The other brilliant that has been happening at these meetings is for us to look at the norms and personally focus on one that is important. Lately, I have working on sharing the airtime. I have been quiet at meetings and it may appear to others that I am not engaged in the meeting. I am working on it. (That is a blog post for another time.)
Then, the universe sent me another sign about the importance of norms. I read an New York Times Magazine article about effective teams. It discussed the importance of two particular norms-Sharing the air and Being thoughtful of the whole person.
“The right norms, in other words, could raise a group’s collective intelligence, whereas the wrong norms could hobble a team, even if, individually, all the members were exceptionally bright.” New York Times
So what I am going to do?
- Take the time to get to know the people in the room. Look and observe emotional temperature in the room. I need spend time listening to the context as well as the content.
- Make sure that everyone in the room talks and create a safe a space for various opinions.
- Not to impose my norms on others. I need spend some time to create norms with the people I work with.