Agile Team Working Agreements How To Guide

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Agile Team Working Agreements
Agile Team Working Agreements

Working agreements, also known as team norms, are guidelines developed by the teams as to how they must work together to create a positive, productive process.

Working agreements describe positive behaviors that, although basic, often are not automatically demonstrated in team processes. For example, an agreement might be “We all agree to participate fully.” Agreements are the group’s power tool. Elements of the working agreement should be publicly posted for easy reference throughout the team process.

The purpose of setting up team norms is to establish a ONE team culture, and it is something to refer back when things get rocky within the team.

How Working Agreements Help

Working agreements:

  • Develop a sense of shared responsibility
  • Increase members’ awareness of their own behavior
  • Empower the facilitator to lead the group according to the agreements.
  • Enhance the quality of the group process.

These agreements are created by teams and the ScrumMaster facilitates the meeting, and they are preferably, created/reviewed during the Sprint 0 of every release.

Agreements work well when:

  • They are important to the team
  • They are limited in number
  • They are fully supported by each member
  • The members are reminded of agreements during process checks
  • The members are reminded of agreements when they are broken

Examples of Team Working Agreements

Some Examples of Working Agreement Guidelines are:

  • Show respect. Don’t interrupt; let people finish what they’re saying. It’s OK to disagree with each other. No personal attacks, attack issues, we debate the merit of ideas, not people.
  • Contribution. Everyone has equal voice and valuable contribution.
  • Meeting. Be on time, end on time, have an agenda
  • Be transparent. No hidden agendas. We will give feedback, we will receive feedback, and we will act on feedback.
  • Impediments. Solve roadblocks within the team.  If the impediment cant be solved within the team, give it to the Scrum master.
  • We make commitments as a team.  We will be held accountable to our commitments. – we work as a team to make a commitment and deliver on it.
  • Incomplete stories are not good – it is better to help get an existing story to “done” than to start another story that can’t be finished in the current sprint.

How to Respond When Working Agreements are Broken

The ScrumMaster is the custodian of the working agreements, but the whole team has the responsibility to question when someone is breaking the agreement.  Since the working agreements were agreed upon by the team, it removes the perception of personal attacks and confrontation.  In the spirit of transparency and continuous improvement, team members should revisit the working agreements from time to time and ask, “Should these be updated?”