Norms of Collaboration

Norms of Collaboration – How Was Your Last Staff Meeting?

Have you ever sat through a meeting that could be described as… dysfunctional, boring, pointless, dominated by one individual, lecture like… the list could go on and on.  We sometimes make excuses blaming one individual or a couple of people.  It is much harder to believe that we have a part in being able to be a change maker and help the meeting become effective and/or ground breaking.  It just takes being intentional about the way we communicate and the culture that is being set within the group.

We must be intentional about how we collaborate and communicate.  I know that I began to see a drastic difference in the way that my team interacted during meetings and just day-to-day activities when we took the time to study The Norms of Collaboration together.

The Seven Norms of Collaboration are essential capacities and skills for high-performing individuals and groups. They operate within several practical frameworks that help groups to develop shared meaning and gracefully reach decisions.Seven Norms of Collaboration

We know one of the best ways to become more effective or better at what we do is by using the tool of reflection as often as we can.  It could be us reflecting on our own actions and skills or a team reflecting on its processes and collaboration.

Any group that is too busy to reflect on its work

is too busy to improve.

For personal skill development as both as an individual and as a group member, “Norms of Collaboration Inventory: My Personal Behavior,” serves as a starting point for self-assessment and goal setting. One useful approach is to select one skill at a time on which to work.

With groups and teams the “Norms of Collaboration Inventory: Group Member Behavior,” can be filled out by individuals or in small groups. These forms then become the basis for dialogue about skill development and baseline data for goal setting for individuals and groups. Again, only choosing one or two of the norms at a time rather than attempt to take them all on at once.

Taken at face value, these norms seem simple and perhaps not worth faculty attention. Most adults believe they know most of these skills. But there is an enormous difference between declaring one knows how to use a skill and skillfully, habitually using the skill in work conversations.  These seven practices are skills that transform to norms when they become habits in a group. Norms signal expected behavior. Two payoffs occur when a practice becomes a norm: Because members are conscious of the behavior, they voluntarily monitor both themselves individually and the group; and norms inform and shape the behaviors of new members.

Download my free “Seven Norms Inventory Forms” just click on the links below.
The Seven Norms of Collaboration
Norms of Collaboration Inventory: My Personal Behavior
Norms of Collaboration Inventory: Group Member Behavior

How will you begin to introduce the Seven Norms of Collaboration?  What areas will you focus on?  I would LOVE to hear from you!

Garmston, R., and Wellman, B. (2009) The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups, 2nd edition. Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon.

Garmston, R., (2007) Collaborative Culture, National Staff Development Council. Winter 2007 Vol. 28, No. 1       

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