This article will help you establish groundrules within your own team meeting, or in meetings that you attend, if you are the facilitator/chair of the meeting.

Useful for people running: Team Meetings, Project Meetings, Inductions, Training, Presentations, Breifings, Informal Meetings, Formal Meetings

You may wish to read our article on Examples of Meeting Groundrules

There are 4 styles we will explore, with the pro's and con's of each, and their best uses.

I share

You share

I Share, You Share

You Share, I Share


1. I Share
The chair simply tells the group the groundrules

It seems sensible as the facilitator/chair of the meeting that you would want to establish your own groundrules. Nothing is stopping you doing this, and in some cases this will work well.

Pro's
You get the groundrules you want
Allows you to take control
Works with
Large groups 20+, formal meetings/training
Con's
Participants may not buy-in to them
Can come across as a parental or dictatorial style
Not good for
Small groups, your own team, short meetings, inductions

I use this most with one off training events, especially when there is little time or delegates are not high contributors.

2A. You share - Free Reign
Participants to create, all on their own (Free Reign)

Here the team comes up the groundrules. There is a risk that they do not cover some of the elements you require, however you can always guide them in the right direction, see 3.

Pro's
Participants more engaged
Feels less Parental in style
Participants buy-in
Works with
Small groups, your own team, new starters in an
induction or newly formed team
Con's
Participants can steer away from what you need
You are not in full control
Takes a little longer
Not good for
Larger groups, formal and short meetings

EXAMPLE A - Free Reign
  1. Split into groups, A, B & C
  2. Groups A, B and C come up with their own groundrules, with no prompting
  3. Groups to present back

Approx. running time 20 minutes
Avoid the temptation to add your own at the end, as this can feel like you have undermined the group

I only tend to use this where, as a facilitator, my agenda is really not important. For example facilitating a teambuild or project team on behalf of someone else.

2B. You Share - Steering
Here the team comes up the groundrules, however you guide and steer them a direction which you want.

Pro's
Participants more engaged, as they
created them
Feels less Parental in style
You retain an element of control
Works with
Small groups, your own team, new starters in an induction
or newly formed project team
Con's
Participants can steer away from what you need
Takes a little longer

Not good for
Larger groups, formal and short meetings

EXAMPLE B - Steering
  1. Split into groups, A, B & C
  2. Groups A, B and C.
  3. Give each group a topic, eg Group A - Etiquette required, Group B - Involvement/Participation, Group C - How we run meetings (time, agenda, notes etc)
  4. Groups to present back

Approx. running time 20 minutes
Avoid the temptation to add your own at the end, as this can feel like you have undermined the group

I use this method for Inductions and New Teams. I find I can steer the group in a direction which covers all the bases we need to establish groundrules.

3. I share, You share

In this example there is a mix of the participants and chair's groundrules. The Chair goes first.

Pro's
All involved and engaged in rules, you get yours too!
Engaging style
You keep some control
Works with
Small groups, your own team, new starters in an induction or newly formed project
Con's
Takes a little longer to do
Could feel as though you have pre-prepared groundrules
Not good for
When you want to engage a team
Larger groups, formal and short meetings, company roll out/presentations

EXAMPLE C - I share, You Share
  1. You share yours
  2. Split into groups, A, B & C
  3. Group A to come up with ideas on contribution, Group B on etiquette, Group C on how meetings work
  4. Groups to present back
  5. Amalgamate ideas
Approx. running time 30 minutes

I do not tend to use this as I find in this approach that the participants can feel their efforts are futile. If using play down your rules!

4. You Share, I Share
In this example there is a mix of the participants and chair's groundrules. The Participants go first.

Pro's
All involved and engaged in rules, you get yours too!
Engaging style
You can control
Works with
Small groups, your own team, new starters in an
induction or newly formed project
Con's
Takes a little longer to do
Could feel as though you have pre-prepared groundrules
Not good for
Larger groups, formal and short meetings, company roll out/presentations

EXAMPLE D - You share, I share
  1. Split into groups, A, B & C
  2. Groups A, B and C, have free reign to come up with their own groundrules
  3. Groups to present back
  4. You share yours
  5. Amalgamate ideas
Approx. running time 30 minutes

I use this most when working on longer training programmes (3 days+) or working with a groups over a period of time.

You may find it useful to read How to establish meeting groundrules and Facilitation tips next.

About the author

phil laviolettephil laviolette

Hi!, I'm Phil LaViolette, Founder and Owner of evalu8d. I created resourcily to share hints, tips and resources I've collected over 20 years of training and coaching, across lots of industries and at all levels. I hope that, even in a small way, you gain from the tools I share!
Phil