In baseball, there are special rules called ground rules. Ground rules are particular to each park in which the game is played. In baseball, each park is different relative to its positioning of fences, dugouts, railings, and other infrastructures. So rules are defined to handle situations where the play ball or the players interact with these objects.
The same is true for business. There are key advantages to setting ground rules. As an entrepreneur, ground rules increase your productivity and enhance your team’s interactions.
If you have constant interruptions and need to increase your productivity, set ground rules that address some of the constant disruptions keeping you from top performance. If family members constantly call you for unimportant reasons during work, set a ground rule around personal phone calls during the day.
If you have a team, the key to setting ground rules is to get your team involved in developing them. Assemble your team and ask each team member for input on improved ways to interact or increase productivity. Afterward, have each team member commit to those ground rules.
These ground rules may include protocols to keep interruptions at a minimum, like setting an appointment with a team member before you constantly disrupt their schedule.
Ground rules can be set specifically for running productive meetings. Common meeting ground rules include:
- Keep cell phones turned off during meetings
- Be on time
- Distribute an agenda prior to each meeting
When setting ground rules, remember to:
- Keep your list in the affirmative: That is, what you want to have happen rather than what you don’t want, such as “be on time” instead of “don’t be late”.
- Get team input and commitment. The worst thing any leader can do is dictate the ground rules. Instead, involve your team in developing the ground rules. You will have better buy in and compliance that way.
- Number the ground rules. If one is not followed, anyone on the team can simply refer to the number, saying “We need ground rule number 1.”
- Enforce the ground rules. When you allow a ground rule to be broken, you have lowered the bar or allowed an exception. While you may have to adjust or add to your list, enforcement is key to hitting a home run with your team.
- Set your system in motion. After creating the ground rules, my second stage clients post their list in their conference room for a consistent reminder of their team’s collective commitment.
When you implement a systematic approach to using ground rules, discover just how easy it is lead your team to victory.