having one bad apple in the team can be very disruptive. If you are a part of a team and you do not have explicit social contracts, it is better to form them now, than repenting about (not having it) later.
This is a living document, and is prominently posted in the team area (if the team is co-located) or in a wiki, which is easily accessible. A good facilitator, who can be neutral and who does not have any stake in the outcome of the meeting, can help the team in creating the teaming agreements. These agreements usually go beyond roles/responsibilities and schedules (example - what time should be have our Daily Scrum). These agreements usually serve as a foundation for self-organizing team. Here are some questions that can help you form better teaming agreements (these questions serve as a guideline for the facilitator )
- What is our purpose/goal/vision?
- What is the kind of environment/culture/atmosphere should we(team) want to intentionally create?
- How will you know when you have it?
- What are our values/principles that will guide us?
- If this team is the epitome of these values, what are the corresponding Behavior, Attitude, Skills and Knowledge (BASK) that will support these values?What will help your team excel (BASK)?
- Two of the Scrum values are Openness and Courage. Psychological safety is important for openness, to be courageous. How can you create a safe environment?
- What can you count on each other for?
- Sometimes, a few vocal people dominate the team. Sometimes, a few do not participate. How will you ensure everyone's participation?
- How do you want to be together when things get difficult?
- What do you expect from the coach?
- What should the coach expect from you ?
- How will you hold your coach accountable to high professional and personal standards?
- How should the coach expect to get feedback from individual/team if he inadvertently slips from his high standards? (example - The team can call for "Protocol Check" with the coach/other team members)
- What individual/team behaviors will not surprise him? What individual/team behaviors will surprise him?
- How do you expect the coach to give you feedback, especially difficult feedback? What are some acceptable ways? What are not acceptable ways?
- How will the team handle conflicts and disagreements?
- What are some of the acceptable behavior during a conflict?
- What are not acceptable (during a conflict)?
- When should a conflict be resolved? (example - if someone does something unpleasant, you cannot bring it up as an issue after 4 weeks)
- How should we make decisions?
- How do we make decisions when not everyone is present?
- If only a representative gets to represent the team, what is our protocol that he/she should follow in making decisions?
- What is our responsibility, as a team (and as an individual)?
- How do we, as a team, handle Scrum Master/Product Owner responsibilities when they are off?
- One of the pillars of empirical process is transparency, how do we create more transparency when our team is distributed?
- How will our on-shore and off-shore teams stay in sync?
- What are our Meeting Norms (Meeting norms/agreements are very similar to teaming agreements)
- If some one external to our team participates in our meetings, what are our expectations from this person to follow/not-follow our norms? How do we communicate this to them?
- How will you hold yourself mutually accountable to each other to these agreements?
- What if someone breaks these agreements?
You need not ask all the questions, they merely serve as a guide to jog your memory. If you feel strongly about not asking a question because it makes you uncomfortable, then that is probably a question you should ask. Think about it !!