The importance of defining the rules of engagement

March 15, 2016
2 minute read
Last updated July 29, 2019

As our world spins ever faster with more information to absorb, more responsibilities to manage, and less time for it all, it is quite clear there are unlimited possibilities for miscommunication and misunderstanding that can undermine success at all levels.

Consider the virtual team who is suffering from increasing mistrust and continual complaints about too much email, and too little responsiveness from team members. The degree to which a virtual team will be successful is highly impacted by the clarity of the ground rules that have been set up. It’s all about defining the rules for engagement.

Consider managers looking for a quick status update on a project. They might ask a subordinate “How’s the project going?” and the reply they receive is “Great!”  The manager is left feeling not only unsatisfied, but uneasy because of such minimal information. But the manager’s expectations of receiving a brief but detailed update were unstated.

Now consider the manager who is coaching a subordinate to help that person develop and grow in the company. If you don’t have an up-front discussion on what the coaching process will entail, clarity on mutual expectations, and what will be covered during the coaching meetings, the results may be disappointing at best.

Defining rules for engagement is simply a matter of stating and clarifying expectations and process. As simple as that may be, it is rarely done. Being an open, honest, and frequent communicator is a great first step at lowering miscommunication and misunderstandings.

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