3 special agreements for outstanding team chemistry

I love passive aggressive notes in offices. You know the ones - reminders to use the toilet facilities with consideration, to clean up after oneself in the kitchen, to not steal stationery. For an afternoon of distraction, just google “passive aggressive workplace memes”. You’re welcome!

One of my favourites:


With the posted reply:

“Please don’t use Comic Sans. We are a Fortune 500 Company not a lemonade stand.”

The signs remind us of common courtesy, without much courtesy. Regardless of the seething frustration, we need agreements to live and work in harmony.

Dermot Crowley’s second fabulous book, Smart Teams, focuses on this. He explains that we need strong boundaries on meetings, emails, and collaborative activities. Otherwise we get in each other’s way and slow the team system down.

Donna McGeorge takes it a step further with her lean approach to meetings in her book, The 25 Minute Meeting. We can get more done in less time if we keep focused.

Powerful teams are more than just systems, they are a potent mix of human chemistry. It’s good if that chemistry mixes well. Not so good if it doesn’t.

The 3 special agreements focus on how we take responsibility for:




Here are my suggestions for how we can do this better:

Thinking: I will challenge my thinking and your thinking on any issue. I expect you to do the same. Together we’re (hopefully) not as dumb as each other.

Feeling: I will check in with my feelings and your feelings at any time, especially when I don’t want to. Together we can allow feelings to reveal hidden truths. Our feelings are like spice in a soup: too much and it’s hard to swallow. Let’s check what we’re putting in the mix!

Acting: I will assume good intentions and expect you to do the same. Just because you do things differently to me, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Also, I will follow the rule, “Don’t be a dick.”

Team chemistry mixes best when we start with honest conversation, curiosity, and care. It’s all about thinking, feeling, and acting better.

What agreements do you have in place? How are they working for you? Where do you fall away from honest and open communication? How might you get back on track?


Related Articles

Boundless leaders: Know how to stop saying yes

Behaviour problems in the workplace - what’s really the cause

E84 - Smart Teams, How to work better together with Dermot Crowley


P.S. And when you’re ready, here are three ways I can help:

1. Grab a free copy of our People Stuff Toolkit

It’s the roadmap to better teams and culture: e-copy of my latest book, Loyalty, checklists, templates.

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3. Join me and other renegade pathfinders in AMPLIFIERS to get your deep work done.

AMPLIFIERS is an implementation community for big thinkers. If you’d like to amplify your message, motivation and results, send me an email with AMPLIFIERS in the subject line and let me know a little about your work and what big impact you're striving for.


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Zoë Routh is one of Australia’s leading experts on people stuff - the stuff that gets in our way of producing results, and the stuff that lights us up. She works with the growers, makers, builders to make people stuff fun and practical.

Zoë is the author of three books: 'Composure - How centered leaders make the biggest impact',  'Moments - Leadership when it matters most' and 'Loyalty - Stop unwanted stuff turnover, boost engagement, and build lifelong advocates." Zoë is also the producer of the Zoë Routh Leadership Podcast.