Norms are unspoken rules that enhance team collaboration and communication. They are ground rules for engagement designed by team members. Teams that build norms together are more efficient at decision making and communicating. What are your team norms? Is Silence one of your team norms?
Team norms boost productivity, improve morale, and unify a team. Examples of team norms include:
- All meetings have an agenda posted 24 hours in advance.
- Listen with curiosity and empathy
- Speak respectfully in workplace conversations
- Be honest and transparent when discussing work-related topics
- Only call meetings that are necessary
- Arrive at work no more than two minutes late every workday
- Keep an open mind when negotiating deals or confronting conflict
- If you’re unsure of how to complete a task, always ask a supervisor for help
Does Silence fit on this list?
I noticed in a recent zoom meeting that many of the participants were not contributing. They were engaged, head nods, etc…, but not responding to the discussion questions. There were many people in the group with the strength of “intellection” which meant silence would be helpful. People with intellection tend to need time and quiet to think.
I support people with this strength, particularly in zoom meetings, by 1) Giving them an agenda in advance so they have pre-thinking time. 2) Encouraging them to take 2 minutes of silence before starting a meeting, not rush from one meeting to the next. 3) I count to 15 after asking a question to see if quiet thinking time engages people 4) I ask, “do you need more time to think about this?” before filling in the silent space.
As the group began to wrestle with the questions of the day we agreed to adopt a few norms. The first group norm they came up with was “Silence is Okay!”
To balance the silence we also adopted a norm that each person in the room had to take a turn going first in a discussion. The people who were more external processors agreed to not jump in first or fill the silence. The external processes knew they would be able to share and the internal processes appreciated the fact that others wanted to hear their ideas.
Once we created this space for the intellection thinking talents to emerge the conversation became more authentic, engaging, and purposeful.
Do you have teams that would benefit from a “silence is okay” norm?
What is your favorite norm that enhances team team dynamics? team collaboration and morale?