Rules of Engagement
Introduction to Rules of Engagement
Through utilizing Lean project delivery methods, we have learned that projects are completed much more productively when team members effectively communicate with one another. It’s for that reason that daily huddles and big room meetings are so important – without proper communication, team members cannot properly coordinate handoffs and solve problems effectively.
However, not all meetings are created equal. Have you ever been in a meeting where…
- You felt frustrated that your ideas weren’t being heard or considered?
- You wondered why your team struggled to stay on topic?
- You felt that only a small minority of people were contributing?
- You sensed that people held their tongue when they had an idea for fear of judgment or scrutiny?
- You left the meeting feeling like it was a waste of time?
These are feelings we’ve all had throughout our professional lives, and it’s the reason why we created rules of engagement to ensure that all meetings run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
What are Rules of Engagement?
Rules of engagement are a set of predetermined rules for meetings that foster a productive working environment where problems are solved and ideas are shared freely. Your organization’s rules of engagement may differ from others based on what works best for you.
The 10 Rules of Engagement
The rules of engagement listed below are not set in stone, as your organization may find that some of these do not work for you, or that others may be needed instead. However, these 10 key rules are recommended by the Lean Construction Institute as they have proven to be effective.
Whatever your rules are, make sure to display them somewhere everyone can see and access them during discussion!
1. This is a Safe Zone
Both physically and psychologically, everyone should feel safe expressing themselves and their opinions. In the spirit of Respect for People, we are concerned only with processes, not with putting down individuals. You and your ideas matter!
2. Everyone Has Equal Status
Whether you’re a high-level executive or lower down the corporate totem pole, everyone’s ideas hold equal weight in these settings. Similarly, we do not tolerate any type of discrimination in these spaces. Your ideas are valid and worth considering, whoever you may be.
3. Speak Up and Share Your Ideas
Please speak your mind! Ideas kept in your head hold no value, and your contributions can only be considered if they are provided. Be vocal now so you don’t regret not speaking up later.
4. Actively Listen to Others
At the same time, it’s important that you listen to others’ perspectives and consider their ideas and opinions. While it is important to speak your mind, you should not aim to dominate the conversation. Say your piece and allow others to share theirs as well.
5. One Conversation at a Time
Avoid side comments and conversations if possible, as those can easily distract from the topic at hand. If you have an idea that is off-topic but important to note, write it down or table it for later when that topic comes up. Staying on topic helps ensure that we make steady progress.
6. Use E.L.M.O.
E.L.M.O. stands for “Enough, Let’s Move On!” In other words, don’t let a conversation get repetitive or drag on beyond the point of productivity. Discussions can quickly turn into arguments, and that is not productive. Once a topic has been thoroughly covered and everyone has had a chance to speak on it, move on to the next item on the agenda. Meeting participants are encouraged to declare E.L.M.O. when appropriate!
7. Silence Phones
In order to guarantee productive sessions, we need to be focused. Everyone is required to silence their cell phones and store them out of sight to prevent distraction during these sessions.
8. Be Focused and Engaged
Even with phones silenced, it’s easy to drift off into daydreaming or to get distracted by off-topic items. Please remain focused on the discussion at hand – there will be time to sort out whatever else is on your mind!
9. Stay On Time
Please arrive at meetings on time and stay until they are completed. If you are not present while discussions are taking place, your ideas are not being considered, which creates waste. Respect the time of your team members and be present when the meeting is scheduled.
10. Have Fun!
Meetings don’t have to be boring. Create an environment where meetings are engaging and where people enjoy collaborating. When we all have each others’ backs, solving problems together can be fun!