Team Performance Agreement

In the real world, most problems are solved not by individuals, but by groups working toward a common goal. It makes sense to use a group approach in an academic setting as well. A group has the potential to achieve results far beyond the capability of any one member.

What is the best way to accomplish effective team performance? The most fundamental requirement is for every member of the team to have a common vision of team goals and expectations. One way to establish this vision is to develop a Team Performance Agreement (TPA). The TPA can provide a framework for group efforts, outlining what is expected of each member, how decisions will be made and how conflicts will be resolved. As you prepare a TPA keep in mind that project reports will be graded on accuracy, presentation and creativity. Specific items that should be addressed in the TPA include the following:

  1. What does the group consider an acceptable performance level? The bare minimum? The top mark on each assignment? Should every member obtain working knowledge of all the concepts involved in the project?
  2. How are decisions to be made, especially when no consensus can be reached? Do team members accept the will of the majority? The most effective agreements emphasize the importance of understanding all views in a dispute and seeking an alternative that is acceptable to all parties.
  3. How will roles be identified for individual members? How will the group deal with inferior performance by team members, such as a failure to show at meetings or contribute to project solutions? Appealing to the instructor is not considered an appropriate method. Each individual brings unique talents to the group, talents that should be encouraged.
  4. How will effective communication be promoted within the group? How will the group ensure that all members contribute ideas? That all members listen carefully to others?
A carefully prepared TPA can avert an exponentially increasing number of team problems and lead to enjoyable cooperation. Good luck.

An excellent reference for Team Performance Agreements and time management in general is First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R Merrill. It is published by Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-671-86441-6.

Since the Team Performance Agreement is a contract, it should look like one. It should be typed rather than handwritten, dated and signed by all parties to the agreement. Each person's name should also be typed, with the signature just above.

Obviously, it will be impossible to do this if the contract is not agreed upon and prepared in advance of the date it is due.