Team Norms Template
Team Norms – Communication & Collaboration
Sample for for Microsoft Teams/Sharepoint
We all have too much valuable info to share to do so effectively in our limited meeting time, which means we must find ways to connect that don’t require coordinated schedules.
In an effort to become better at meetings, we propose that certain types of info be shared in a different way than AT a team meeting. Put another way, we are asking team members to focus meetings on DISCUSSION, COLLABORATION, and DECISIONS, as opposed to SHARING and UPDATES. These are examples of content that we should try to eliminate from meeting agendas:
- Highlights from a recent meeting that does not need a team decision
- Background or context for a discussion that can be shared in advance
- Progress report on work that doesn’t need feedback right now
This approach means that team members must be accountable for staying on top of channel posts and meeting pre-reads to make sure we use our meeting time effectively.
Channel Posts: Email vs. Posts vs. Meeting Chats vs. Individual Chat
So if we’re not sharing updates at meetings, how should we share? We have a number of tools at our fingertips, and we will benefit from consistent use:
Channel Posts (the Posts tab in any Teams channel) are great for conversations that can be shared with the entire team. Use this feature with a single post for each item that would have been a meeting agenda item. If it’s too small/niche/not everyone, use email or chat
This will keep more people aware of conversations and reduce “update” time in meetings. Please @tag anyone you need to respond to your post (i.e. tag the people you’d otherwise be emailing, and everyone else is like the BCC, able to review at their convenience without a notification).
The expectation is that if people can’t respond in a timely manner to the post, they will get a meeting invite.
If a Channel Post doesn’t get you what you need, add an item to the rolling Meeting Agenda tab.
EMAIL or CHAT
Email is convenient in the moment but hard to find later, especially if key members weren’t on the original thread. Email is great for emailing across teams, private conversations, or messages that need attachments or lots of room for lengthy context.
The Chat app in teams for conversations with individuals and small groups is great for quick or time-sensitive questions vs. longer topics that are better handled by email. These are private to a small group and difficult to archive or search, so consider using a Channel Post (above) if the discussion could benefit the team as an FYI. Named group chats are also perfect for building connection & community with the kind of conversations that would happen spontaneously in-office (“donuts in the breakroom!).
Meeting chats are deleted at the meeting expiration date and are limited to invitees of a particular meeting. As most teams have multiple recurring meetings with subsets of the larger team, it can become impossible to remember which chat had the relevant link you’re looking for.
We propose using Meeting Chats only for conversation happening in that meeting, and not afterward. As part of the project management function, any valuable info in a meeting chat should be pulled out directly after the meeting by the meeting organizer and added as a Planner task, Agenda Item, or Channel post. Consider Meeting Chats ephemeral; valuable in that moment but not for reference.
MS Teams & Tools Overview
In an effort to centralize communication and file storage, we will use Teams as our central hub, and we will prefer tools and processes that integrate easily with Teams.
Details below but the short version is:
- The General channel in our Team is our main hub for the project.
- Planner will be where we track and assign daily/weekly work. Everyone can add tasks for themselves or others; but the team owner will try to manage and support a clean and organized system. Deadlines are important, please flag if one needs to shift.
- The Agenda tab will be updated often during the week to reflect what we must discuss. All team members can add items for consideration at any time. The team owner will send a link to the planned agenda before each meeting. Discussed items will be deleted with the appropriate tasks created in Planner during the meeting or directly after.
- The Posts tab will be the preferred way to communicate with the team, prioritized over email and chats.
- The Files tab (the connected SharePoint site for this particular Team) will be our only location for shared files. The Files tab in Teams is a direct mirror of a SharePoint site that was created when the team was created – what is added/deleted to Teams is added/deleted in SharePoint and vice versa. Users can access from the Files tab inside of Teams or bookmark SharePoint in a browser or in their OneDrive as is their preference.
Tasks: Project for the Web (P4W) vs. Planner Tasks
After months of trying to make Project for the Web work, the project management team have decided it is too cumbersome for managing daily/minor tasks. Microsoft Planner is much more integrated with Teams and much easier to use. Planner allows users to create private tasks for themselves as well as create and assign tasks from right within the Team Channel.
- P4W will still be used to track major phases and milestones in the project – the “zoom out” view of major initiatives. Think of this as the big “buckets” of work with weeks/months-long timeframes to complete each section. This mirrors how we have been using it to date in this project.
- Tasks will be used for daily work questions, assignments, and collaboration. Instead of meeting notes, the meeting organizer will instead translate meeting discussions directly into either Planner tab (because we know exactly what needs doing) or the Agenda tab (because it needs further discussion).
- We encourage team members to add all their tasks directly into the Planner tab, which will allow us to reduce progress reports in meetings and keep tabs on all the work underway.
- Please assign each task to a single person; assigning multiple people is essentially asking whoever can get to it first to complete the task; the first person to check the task complete will clear it off everyone’s task list, so this is not a good format for something that everyone needs to do individually.
Pro tip: Adding the “Tasks by Planner and To Do” app to your Teams sidebar pulls in all your tasks from a variety of sources and makes your work easy to see.
File Storage & Archive
Versions of old files are useful but without good file hygiene, we end up with large, nested folders. In order to balance the need for historical context and ease of laying hands on the right file, we propose the following:
- Please feel free to create all your working files in your own personal OneDrive. When they get to a point that they need collaboration or review by the team, please upload a version to the SharePoint/Team Files.
- File names should be clear and include a date to help with version control.
- Once a file is final, the acronym FTC (final to client) or similar can be added after the date to indicate that this version was delivered to a group on that date.
- When possible, send SharePoint links instead of attachments to help with version control. If the file is stored as recommended in the Team Files/SharePoint, then it will automatically be accessible to all team members without individual sharing required (select Copy Link from the Share button menu to easily copy that link)
- SharePoint links can be attached to Planner tasks to make assignments easy to understand.