Playing By The Same Rules by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

One of the hallmarks of an effective team is trust and understanding between all members. This includes the team, project leaders, management, and others involved. As the team leader, working with the team to develop a code of conduct that is internal to the team but also represents the overarching organizational code of conduct is an essential step.

What is the Code of Conduct?

Think of the code of conduct as the rules that all members of the team, and often the entire organization, have agreed on are essential to the group’s culture, ethics, and vision. It will also include legal issues and current employment laws that are essential for safe and compliant workplaces.

A code of conduct applies to everyone, and there are not different rules for various individuals within the team. The most obvious benefit of discussing and creating a code of conduct is a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to the team. When people are involved in creating their own guidelines, they are less likely to attempt to sabotage or work around the rules.

Why Have a Code of Conduct?

Generally, a code of conduct encompasses ethical and professional guidelines as well as creates a proactive, respectful, tolerant, and inclusive work environment. It also includes the core values of the team and organization, the guiding principles, and the behavioral expectations.

It helps the team understand the boundaries of what is approved and acceptable and what is not acceptable or tolerated within the group. For the leader, the code of conduct helps to address specific issues that may arise by having expectations clearly defined and accepted by the group.

If and when deviations from the accepted behavior are noted, it provides the framework to have discussions or to impose consequences that are logical, clear, and universally applied to anyone who violates the terms.

A Positive Code of Conduct

Ideally, everyone should be involved in developing the code of conduct. When the team creates the language and the expectations, they have the opportunity to discuss what is important and why.

A positive code of conduct opens up the door to inclusion, creativity, new ideas, and changes that are helpful for everyone. At the same time, it defines what is acceptable behavior to focus on a positive workplace culture. Over time, and with shifts in teams, projects, and expectations, the code of conduct may change to address new considerations in the workplace.