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What Is a Team Operating Agreement and Is It Right for Your Project?

An operating agreement is defined as ‘a set of agreed-upon parameters and mutual expectations that defines a process of working together’.  The operating agreement allows you to express your expectations for each project team member, your operating guidelines and allows you to hold project team members accountable for their commitments and obligations.  In certain organizations, operating agreements allow project team members to work together effectively.  By creating these guidelines, making everyone on the project team aware of them and adhering to them, the project team members will establish and maintain a good working relationship throughout the project.   It provides all project team members with a tool to enforce desired behavior.

It may sound pedantic, but they’re very effective.

Operating agreements typically cover the most prevalent aspects of a project that can cause issues amongst team members.  These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Decision making
    • Who makes decisions?
    • Responsibilities when making decisions
    • Types of decisions to be made
    • Response times
  • Meetings
    • Rules for meetings
    • Meeting logistics
    • Meeting participation
  • Work hours
    • On site hours
    • Off site hours
  • Team responsibilities
  • Individual responsibilities
  • Conflict and conflict resolution
    • Escalation
  • Operating agreement enforcement

Some organizations simply don’t need or are not comfortable with operating agreements.  If your organization has a history of conflict within projects, a history of poorly executed meetings, poor participation, lack of follow through and an imbalance of project team members making or forcing decisions on other team members, a project operating agreement may be required for your project.  While they may seem authoritarian on the surface, they can be created and executed in appositive manner providing the project a tool for success.

Want to chat about this idea? Email me and I’ll be happy to talk.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

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