The calm after the storm: (re)setting business ground rules

We’ve seen unprecedented change in Australia in the past 12 months- fires, drought, COVID, restructures, redeployment and redundancies- and with change comes uncertainty, stress and frustrations that can impact our attitudes and behaviours in the workplace.


So as we start to re-establishing the new norm, it's a good idea to refresh and reset those grounds rule on the way we behave at work- with our customers, our suppliers, and importantly within the team.


Here are the Top 7 ground rules I hear regularly:


1)     Be considerate. We all depend on each other to produce the best work we can. Our decisions will affect others and we should take those consequences into account in our actions and decisions.

2)     Be respectful. We won't all agree all the time, but disagreements are no excuse for disrespectful behaviour. We all experience frustration from time to time, but we cannot allow that frustration to become personal attacks. An environment where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not productive and can lead to outcomes such as bullying. Apologise for errors or misunderstandings, don’t lash out at colleagues (senior or otherwise), and keep your personal opinions of others private.

3)     Choose your words carefully Conduct yourself professionally and be kind to others. Harassment and exclusionary behaviour are not acceptable at any time. This includes, but is not limited to: personal insults, explicit language, swearing, racist, sexist or any other discriminatory behaviour. 

4)     Resolve disagreements constructively. Different people have different perspectives and that can be valuable for solving problems and generating ideas. However unavoidably, it also means that that there will be differences of opinion and disagreements. Being unable to understand why someone holds a viewpoint doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. What is important is that we resolve disagreements and differing view points constructively. And don’t forget, we all make mistakes, but blaming each other won’t get us anywhere.

5)     Comply with Reasonable Direction. Fundamental to the success of any business is ensuring that the team complies with directions of their employer. During times of change, there are a lot of uncertainty and moving parts so being a team player becomes even more critical. Supporting an overwhelmed colleague or taking on a little extra helps all concerned; and politely challenging a change can help to sense check the details or improve the idea, but remember your implicit duty to follow and cooperate.

6)     Act With Integrity. No matter what the business, a basic rule of professional conduct is to act with integrity at all times. Be honest and straightforward and do things by the book; keep your professional word; act in the best interest of the customer and the company; and avoid any conflicts of interest.  

7)     Teamwork is dreamwork. You often need to work with people that you may not necessarily like. Set aside your differences, share the workload, and focus on what’s important to the team, business our customers and you’ll have a happy workplace


These 7 points are a good basis but are no mean exhaustive, so think about how you could use some or all of these. You can (and should) consider also embedding a Code of Conduct or Standards of Behaviour to set expectations with the team and align behaviours to your organisational values.