Lesson 7: Learn the things you shouldn’t do in the team.

There are many disadvantages to running your own business, but one advantage is being able to work the way you want; particularly when the subject of this blog is asleep at my feet.

Lesson 7 follows on from Lessons 1, 5 and 6, and relates to behaviour that is not accepted by the team.

As Jake has developed from a puppy in our house, we have had to teach him what is accepted and not accepted as part of our team. In Lesson 5 I highlighted how Jake’s development needed to be embraced by all members of the team; this is particularly important when it comes to inappropriate behaviour. A rule set by one member of the team (no dogs on beds) and then broken by smaller members of the team (‘we were just playing on the bed with Jake’) creates not only disharmony (and raised voices!) in the team, but also causes confusion for Jake.

In the same way that positive behaviour in the team needs to be discussed and agreed upon, so too does negative behaviour. As always, the common sense rule should not apply; just because you assume that something is inappropriate does not mean that everyone agrees with you. It is important that areas of non-performance (and the consequences) are discussed and agreed upon because a lack of agreement can undermine the best laid plans.

So how do you do this? Here are some simple ways to get started:

1.            In the same way you though about what you love team members to do, also consider ‘What do team members do that really annoys me or wastes my time?’

2.            Consider why you don’t like that behaviour and how it makes you feel. (It doesn’t need to be around the campfire, ‘deep and meaningful’ emotion – does it make you feel annoyed, frustrated, unprofessional, out of control?)

3.            Tell the people in your team what annoys you, how it makes you feel and the impact that this has on you, the team and/or the business.

4.            Once you have worked out what annoys you, get the rest of the team to discuss the same thing. Ensure that team members focus on actions and behaviours, not on individual team members.

5.            Agree on the things that annoy and frustrate all members of the group.

Now for the two most important points:

6.            Get the team to agree on what should be done if the team rules are broken. This ensures accountability by everyone in the team, as well as ownership. It also means that if one team member pulls up another for inappropriate behaviour, it is not personal – they are just adhering to the team rules that everyone agreed to.

7.            Ignoring a break in the team rules is the same as saying the behaviour is appropriate. Team rules are rules that have been agreed to and should not be broken. If someone makes a mistake it should be owned – the person should accept responsibility or the team should ensure that they do. Referring back to lesson 6, this is how trust is confirmed.

As a team leader, supervisor or Manager, sometimes we need to tell people when they have performed badly or have done the wrong thing. Trust me, it is much easier when the entire team knows what the rules are and what the consequences will be. You go from being the bad person to being the person who is just enforcing the rules that have been agreed upon by the team – a big difference. Once agreed, the team rules don’t always have to be enforced / reviewed by the leader – if everyone knows the rules, it can be reminded and enforced by all members of the team. Clarity around what should and should not be done in teams provides a sense of surety, calm and trust between all members of the team.

For some reason, the idea of agreeing what is right and wrong within the team seems to have been forgotten by middle Managers – either it hasn’t been taught by Managers above them or there is fear in regards to stamping their authority over a team. So long as your team rules are agreed by all and within appropriate business rules / laws, why can’t you set the standard for the team?


Consider your own team. Does your team know what they should and shouldn’t do as part of your team?

Have the consequences of poor behaviour been agreed?

When was the last time you turned a blind eye to a team member’s indiscretion?

You now know what you can do to fix it!

Learning on the Lead: Lesson 6 of 21 Leadership Lessons Learnt with my Dog

The other lessons are:

  1. Everyone Needs to Know the Rules.
  2. You need to protect your team from outside forces.
  3. Listening and being present are important to your team.
  4. Greet your team members like you are meeting them for the first time every day.
  5. Consistency is crucial to trust and understanding.
  6. Trust is built over months, not seconds.
  7. Learn the things that you shouldn’t do in the team.
  8. Remember that each team has different rules to live by.
  9. Show respect for your team in ways that they appreciate.
  10. Understand the unique behaviour and skill set you bring to the team.
  11. Look after your team and they will look after you / You have to meet the needs of your team.
  12. Breaks in discipline / performance can’t wait until later to fix.
  13. Leading the team is not a half-hearted, part time responsibility.
  14. The leader needs to guide the team clearly and precisely.
  15. The leadership hierarchy needs to be understood by all of the team.
  16. Genuine Acts of Kindness are worth the effort.
  17. You have to be prepared for a sudden change in direction.
  18. A steady voice is more effective than an erratic one.
  19. You don’t have to bark at every noise in the external environment.
  20. Sometimes you need to ask for help.
  21. You have to decide what you are going to fight for.