Rules of Engagement

We find ourselves in an increasingly fragmented working environment with global, mobile and virtual teams becoming the norm. Organisational culture is fluid and can be hard to define. Yet we are incredibly connected at the same time with email, SMS, social media, smartphones and iPads.

So what can we do as business leaders to provide guidance and leadership to our people? How do we set the ground rules or ‘rules of engagement’ for a globally distributed team without relying solely on weighty HR policies and procedures?

One approach I have used with some success is to document and circulate a discussion paper on ‘how we agree to work together’.

I have listed some of the key points from my ‘Rules of Engagement’ document below and welcome your feedback.

1. Honesty
Speak the truth- even if it is an unpopular view, or one that identifies a mistake that has been made, or is about to be made. This is important for a team to be able to resolve issues quickly and make better decisions. Imagine trying to be effective with only half the information.

2. Reliability
Do what you said you were going to do. If you run into any obstacles that may prevent you from keeping your agreements, notify the people involved as soon as possible, and offer an alternative solution.

3. Respect
At all times, treat each person with respect: respect for their role, level of responsibility, position in the company, experience and expertise; and respect for the fact that each person is genuinely trying to do their job to the best of their ability.

4. Innovation
Think of new ideas, and new ways to do things. Remember 1000:100:10:1 (Let 1,000 flowers bloom, be willing to consider 100 possibilities, be prepared to invest and road-test 10 of the most promising and then expect to be pleasantly surprised by 1 revolutionary idea.)

5. Fun
Have fun and enjoy the challenge of what you do. This means enjoying the tough stuff as well! The greatest rewards and satisfaction comes from overcoming big obstacles.

6. No Surprises
Particularly in the presence of other colleagues. If there is some news or development in the business, ensure that your team knows about it. Everybody hates finding out about something last- particularly when it is something that affects them or their team.

7. Maturity
This means doing the right thing, and acting responsibly, even if you have not been asked to (and no one is watching!) It also means accepting that not everything will go your way. Some decisions will go against you or your preferred outcome, and that is just a part of life.

8. Accountability
If you have a problem with a particular person- talk to them about it, not others. Tell the person what the problem is, how it affects you, and what you would like to happen differently. Give them the opportunity to explain their point of view and find a suitable outcome together.

9. Confidentiality
Respect confidentiality at all times.

10. Focus on the process- not the people
This means fixing the problem- not the blame.

11. Questions are the answer
Ask questions whenever you do not understand anything. Even if you do understand, ask anyway to gain a deeper understanding.

I hope you found this list helpful. It is not comprehensive, but rather a guide or conversation-starter that I have found incredibly useful when welcoming new members of the team.

What are your ‘Rules Of Engagement’? How do you welcome new team members and induct them into your organisational culture?


Michael Field, Director at?Michael Field Pty Ltd.

Secrets of Successful Networking

Networking can be a dirty word. It can conjure up pictures of nightmare scenarios:

  • Lots of people standing in a room and nobody knows each other. Awkward!

… or

  • A room full of squawking self-promoters frisbee-ing out their business cards like samurai stars.

Of course it isn’t always that bad, and many of us have had very positive networking experiences, but in reality, most people find networking challenging – yet they love meeting *interesting people!

* Definition of an interesting person: they do something you find personally interesting or you believe they can provide value for you, your business, family, friends etc.

So let’s firstly examine why people don’t network. In truth, most people don’t want bigger networks. What they do want however is more meaningful relationships that can improve their lives – personal, professional, financial, social etc.

Most professionals already have established friendship groups and professional associates. Depending on their career and life stage, they may not be recruiting new people. Many (including myself) already have enough trouble maintaining their existing friendships – even professionally!

So, to break through, you need to differentiate yourself by demonstrating how you can add value to another person’s life – either personally or professionally.

At this stage, it is worth mentioning that you simply can’t afford the luxury of feeling self-conscious if you want to be a successful networker. Assume that nearly everyone else feels self-conscious – and thinks they are the only one who feels that way.

The best way to be a gun networker is simply by showing interest in other people first, and resisting the need to talk about yourself – unless you are asked, or you have determined it is appropriate.

Your ‘elevator pitch’ is an ‘acid test’ to see if there is mutual potential in furthering the discussion. It should be designed to encourage the listener to respond with a relevant ‘matching’ elevator pitch, for example:

‘My name is Michael Field, I run a strategic marketing consultancy. We work with medium sized business-to-business, not-for-profit and member services organisations to help them grow their business. What do you do?

You may also want to resist the urge to whip out your card too soon. It can be better (and more polite perhaps) to ask for their card. Good manners suggest they will ask for yours in return.

Some people struggle to end a conversation at networking functions. But if you want to get the most out of the opportunity, sometimes you just have to move on. It doesnlt need to be awkward. You can just say, “It has been lovely meeting you. I need to catch up with Mary now and hopefully we will see you soon. It has been a pleasure meeting you. Have a great night.

Above all, follow up! Many networking efforts are wasted through failure to follow-up. It does not have to be a chore.

For the best results:

- Connect on LinkedIn

- Add them to your CRM

- Email a short thank you note acknowledging your meeting

- Send a relevant news article or link

Try this out at your next networking event and let me know how you go.


Michael Field, Director at Michael Field Pty Ltd.