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Team rules: 11 rules + 5 tips for the perfect team

Everyone wants a good team in their job. For this to work, the composition has to be right and some important team rules have to be adhered to. The employer and the HR department are responsible for the first part. At the same time, team members have to get involved, work on a good working atmosphere and fit into the group. However, every employee is responsible for a successful cooperation. Anyone who breaks or disregards team rules harms everyone involved. We explain why team rules are important and which ones help in a successful collaboration on the job ...

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Team rules: It doesn't work without it

Every society has rules. The whole purpose of team rules is the same. They steer the togetherness in an orderly way. What may seem rigid at first glance can be explained on closer inspection: Ideally, completely different personalities come together in teams and work together on a project. Everyone has an individual character and brings their own experience with them, work experience as well as life experience.

However, since a team has to pull in the same direction, not everyone can do what they want. The team rules must therefore be known to everyone. At the same time, internal team rules are not necessarily visible at first glance. Anyone who joins an existing team as a newcomer must first orientate themselves: How do tasks and collaboration work? How do you interact with each other? What expectations does the company have of its employees and how does it communicate? How are ideas discussed and decisions made?

8 Important team rules in the workplace

Most team rules establish themselves over time. Processes, arrangements and agreements are created that all those involved adhere to. It is therefore important for newcomers to develop a feeling for it and to adapt your own behavior accordingly. If that doesn't happen, team conflicts are inevitable. The exact rules within a team are individual depending on the company and employees. But there are some team rules that should be found in every workplace:

Sense of belonging

In a good team, there should be a sense of togetherness, employees should feel that they belong to the team. This increases satisfaction, brings employees closer together and improves overall collaboration.

Goal setting

Even if you don't always work on a common project, a successful team should always pursue common goals. By joining forces, teams can achieve a lot more.

Helpfulness

If a colleague has difficulties or is far too busy, other employees should not just stand by and give them a hand. This also ensures a closer bond and greater belonging.

Motivation

For a successful cooperation, all team members should have the appropriate willingness to perform. If someone deviates significantly from this, for example because he is significantly less motivated and takes much longer breaks, the commitment in the entire team decreases and the potential for conflict increases.

Sense of responsibility

The same applies to the sense of responsibility. A team can only really function if everyone takes their share of the responsibility and doesn't try to avoid it. This also includes admitting your own mistakes.

tolerance

One of the most important team rules is tolerance towards all other colleagues. Everyone in the team must be ready to deal with or be able to accept the other's idiosyncrasies. The most diverse personalities, views and working methods come together in the group - without tolerance this is doomed to failure.

Appreciation

Appreciation does not only come from the boss, but should also be part of the teamwork. The mutual recognition and appreciation leads to a more respectful interaction, a better working atmosphere and more satisfaction within the group.

communication

The team rule should be to maintain open and direct communication in the workplace. Important information can only be passed on, problems discussed and decisions made by exchanging information with one another. If communication is neglected, many processes come to a standstill, errors pile up and successful cooperation is at risk.

Tips: Recognize invisible team rules

First-time professionals and new employees need some time to get to know the team rules. A bit of uncertainty at the beginning is normal, but you will quickly find your way around. To help you better understand the team rules and better integrate yourself into the team, we have a few tips:

Prove manners

Of course you have social skills, so show them too: Always be polite and greet your colleagues in a friendly manner. That already opens many doors. It is advisable not to immediately use your name on all colleagues - unless it is part of the corporate culture. Otherwise - according to Knigge - the lower rank always waits until the higher rank offers you what you are. Age or gender do not count in business, here only the hierarchy counts.

Adjust clothes

The outside is the first thing we notice in a person. A well-groomed first impression is therefore an important step in order to be positively accepted into the team. Above all, the right clothing can help ensure that newcomers do not attract attention. Therefore, it is better to be a bit more formal at the beginning than too casual, until you can assess the dress code in the company.

Observe behavior

How are each other dealt with? What rituals do you notice, what is the corporate culture like? If you have any questions, feel free to ask how others think about it. It is important that you ask specific questions so that you do not appear incompetent or disinterested. Restraint is detrimental if you make avoidable mistakes by doing so.

Demonstrate openness

When someone talks about their pet or vacation or other hobbies, it's a vote of confidence - and a good opportunity to get involved. This is how you can discover similarities. This welds you together and gives your colleagues the opportunity to get to know you better too.

Show critical ability

Also, be ready to be taught and listen when mistakes are explained to you. Work processes and errors that have not yet been internalized are part of the process and are part of the team's integration.


Recognition and appreciation play a decisive role in your success in integrating into the team. You want both to be shown to you, so show the same thing to your colleagues. Show that you understand the rules of the game by recognizing the achievements and skills of others.

Team rules: how big should a team be?

In addition to the team rules for behavior, there are also some important aspects that must be considered when putting together and filling an optimal team. A particularly frequent question that HR managers have to ask themselves: How big should the team be? Depending on the size of the team, different group dynamic processes take place.

Social loafing

At the end of the 19th century, the French agricultural engineer Maximilien Ringelmann discovered the Ringelmann effect named after him. Thereafter, as the number of group members increases, the performance of the individual decreases. In other words: the bigger the team, the more the individual rests and relies on the others to fix it.

Bullfinch Effect

If rest at the expense of others is recognized by the team members and it remains without consequences, the perceived feeling of injustice intensifies the effect even further and these colleagues also reduce their commitment in order not to be exploited. Then again one speaks of the bullfinch effect. With teams that are too large, there is a risk that no one really performs.

Come in addition: As the group grows, so does the number of different opinions, ideas and team discussions so that all concerns are heard. In the worst case, the organizational and coordination effort exceeds the potential benefit. With only ten team members, there are arithmetically 45 communication options. If everyone talks to each other for only ten minutes a day, seven and a half hours have already passed - with speeches. The real work isn't done there. In short: the team is too big. Scientists from the Medical University of Vienna also found that the likelihood of a consensus decreases with increasing group size. The ideal team was found with five to eight members. Here there were the fewest frictional losses and the fastest agreements or decisions.

Too Many Talents Effect: Lots of Top Talent, Bad Results

Every team needs strong talent - in sport as well as in business. It could now be concluded that many such top talents bring the best results within a team. Not correct! This effect only occurs up to a certain percentage, after which more talents damage group performance and success. Researchers examined this relationship in sports teams such as soccer, basketball and baseball.

For each sport, they analyzed the proportion of real top talents per team and their success over several years. Indeed, there was initially an increase in performance and success across all teams, which went hand in hand with the accreditation of new talent. But the studies also showed that - depending on the sport - the peak is reached with a proportion of 45 to 55 percent. If the coaches then signed on more talent, the game results only went downhill.

The reason is a lack of teamwork. Too many stars prevent cooperative and collaborative work towards a common goal. The more elitist the composition of the group, the more the individuals tend to pursue their own goals. They want to secure their status in the group - and lose sight of the real goal.

Admittedly, sports studies cannot be fully transferred to everyday work. But everyone has probably made the observation before: A few narcissists in the team still goad, even demonstrably make them more creative, but too many of them and the group dynamics go down the drain. Suddenly everyone is next to themselves, cooperation in the literal sense of the word is out of the question.

How important the right composition of a team can be, clearly shows the story of the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. In the face of life-threatening circumstances, he demonstrated true leadership quality, put together optimal teams and was able to avert numerous dangers. You can read his story, as well as the team rules lessons, in this free PDF.

Shackleton Team Rules (PDF)

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