The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

A teams code of conduct

Teams always have a code of conduct.

Some have two. A written one and an implicit one.

Large corporations like Disney, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Microsoft, or Google make their code of conduct publicly available. They often will also have a variety of them to address different audiences. Writing a code of conduct requires a thorough exercise in describing the organization’s core values and its vision through a set of actionable rules.

The written code of conduct however is mainly there to help everyone in the organization have clear guidelines assisting in maintaining the desired perception of the business. Teams still have to find a way to implement it. It’s where they figure out what type of relationship they can have within the team.

Doing meaningful work is a risky business. It requires facing uncertainty, engaging in the unknown, and experimenting with new ideas. It generates fear and anxiety. And even more so in a team, where it is never clear how influence and power are being exercised. It brings up a natural ambivalence team members experience in their relationships. Which is one area leading to team dynamics.

Teams need more than proper structures and processes. They need supporting conditions allowing to convert risk and anxiety into productive work. It means a leadership function that also pays attention to the existing ambivalence.

The ambivalence shows in the way people are willing to relate to one another. That is how much they open up or how they close down. They work out how close they can become at the same time as they figure out how much distance feels safe for them. It is the human dilemma serving people to decide on the intimacy and vulnerability they are allowing themselves in the given environment.

It results in an implicit and observable code of conduct.

Increasing team performance is very much impacted by the team’s and leader’s awareness of the existing code of conduct and its ability to support the desired team performance.


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