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Establishing Team Rules of Engagement at Project Launch

Posted Dec 29 2009 11:56am

Let's say you are in a new role and a new organization, isn't it nice to have an onboarding process? This gives you the lay of the land, what you need to use, how information is disseminated, what your role is and how it relates. The same type of mechanism should be done at the project kickoff. As the project manager, it is your responsibility to assure the whole team is brought on board with expectations managed, an understanding of their part, and guiding principles to assure project success.

The tool many PMs use to bring everyone to the same place of understanding is often referred to as Rules of engagement. The rules of engagement can be viewed as the foundational step in forming.

Rules of Engagement Roadmap:

  • Roles and Responsibilities - Roles and Responsibilities lay out what is one's accountability and function in the project. This can be in the form of a RACI chart.
  • Escalation Process - Laying out how issues and problems are escalated is a critical success factor for any project. At the beginning it is a good idea to clearly identify how and to whom escalation is done across the project team.
  • Project Protocols - Project Protocols are the standards for how meetings, issues, risks, changes, schedule and costs are managed within the project. PMI labels this as the project management plan. I try to have it be guidance for employees
  • Guiding Principles - Guiding principles are often the most overlooked aspect of the rules of engagement. These are the core principles which help cement the team's outlook and perspective towards the overall goal. For example:
    • We will looked upstream and downstream for impacts in our analysis and assessments.
    • We will challenge each other's ideas in a positive productive manner to help bring about the best solution for all.
    • We will respond within a business day to email or phone queries from our teammates. If we don't have an answer, we will acknowledge the query within a day with our our inability to assist.

The TakeAway

The value of understanding your part in the project helps to set expectations and clarity. The time spent constructing and developing roles and responsibilities will help launch your project successfully, just always remember this is a collaborative process not dictated in most instances.

Please feel free to share your stories of how establishing rules of engagement have either helped or hindered your project. As always your suggestions are welcomed and appreciated!

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