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How to Create Healthy Group Norms for Team Communication

Gently enforce the norms

It's normal to expect that these rules will be bent or broken. The transition from unspoken to written norms can be smoother when it is decided in advance how to deal with the offense.

If you don't call attention to that norm, you inadvertently create a second set of norms. If a rule is expecting everyone to be on time and you don't point out when someone oversteps that norm, you're saying that it's not that important to be on time. Peer-to-peer enforcement with some humor is an effective way to enforce the norms.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Group Development Theory

Dr. Bruce Tuckman, a psychology professor, synthesized team development into four basic stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.

Forming

This stage of teamwork is all about first meetings and first impressions.

What everyone needs most is a clear understanding of their part in the journey and a setup for building emotional connections. Setting goals together puts their skills and interests into the open.

Storming

Most teams go through the storming stage in some form or another because discord is inevitable. The key value to emphasize in the team is positive intent. 

A little conflict is needed to bring upfront weak spots in projects and to bring new valid arguments to the table. But constant storming leads to the destruction of productivity, projects, and ultimately, the team itself.

Assembling the Team

... that's capable of executing in a remote setup:

  • Hire doers: they will get stuff done even if they are working from a secluded island.
  • Hire people you can trust....
Software/Tools

In a remote team, you'll need the right tools to make sure everyone stays on the same page and can continue to execute without a physical person standing next to them.

You likely will need a tool in certain categories like group chat and video conferencing to make remote successful.

Processes

Good processes let you get work done in the absence of all else. They provide structure and direction for getting things done.

A few examples from Zapier:

  • Weekly Hangouts;
  • Weekly One-on-Ones;
  • Bring the team together 2 times/year somewhere cool;
  • Automate anything that can be automated.
“Be A Strong Writer”
“Be A Strong Writer”

This is one of the first pieces of advice people give to those seeking remote work.

When you work remotely, a few misplaced words can become an occupational hazard. Every w...

Accessible Language
  • Use of caps lock, emojis, italics and tildes (~) to make your language flowery, fun and human is a great idea for remote working. You can also use memes and gif images, provided they are not offensive to anyone.
  • Robot speak is not a good way to freely collaborate with your remote peers. Use simple words, and keep it on the casual side, skipping the inaccessible and stilted language. You can also opt for contractions like writing isn’t instead of is not.
Be Clear And Concise
  • Do not obscure your message by words that are there to decorate the sentence and make it sound wordy while camouflaging what you mean.
  • Make good use of qualifiers ("I think, In my opinion") while not coming across as a perpetually confused person. Don’t use qualifiers while making a strong point.
  • While writing documentation, it is prudent to avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Use complete words and sentences. Shortcuts and acronyms block any actual communication, acting as roadblocks. On the same lines, avoid cliches, idioms and any idiotic sounding phrase that catches the ear well but doesn’t really do any good to anyone.
  • Remote working is often on a global scale, and certain expressions will not be understood by some participants, or worse, will be misunderstood.
  • Your words and tone should be tailored according to your audience. The words are different when you are writing to a client, and when you are in a small group chat with your peers. More people in chat also means adopting a polished, professional tone.