Everyday at work, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘tunnel vision’. We go in, check off our to-do list, then check out and go home. But how clear is our understanding of what’s really expected of us at our jobs, and how that impacts our team and company?

According to Google, the third ingredient of high performing teams is structure and clarity. Team members need to have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them as part of the team, how they can fulfill those expectations, and the consequences of fulfilling those expectations.

The leader’s job, therefore, is to make sure that they establish clear expectations for all members of their team, and to bring to light how each person’s work on the team can contribute its mission. Without it, it’s unlikely that your team will reach high performance and engagement.

As Summit President Scott Kress always says, “you cannot expect anybody to live up to your expectations if they do not know what those expectations are”.

But let’s be honest, the reality of today’s workplace is that we often just don’t have enough time to get to that. Given the limitation of time and resources, how can we efficiently establish clear expectations for each member of our team and show them how it connects to the mission?

Here’s an idea…

One component of adventure education programs is called the group agreement. At the start of every program, the facilitator takes time to discuss with the group its goals (i.e., its ‘vision), and what the team will do to achieve those goals together.

Specifically, two aspects that should be addressed are the team values that are expected from everybody, and specific, unique expectations from each individual that will bring the team closer to its goals.

Here’s what one might look like:


At the top, the team can record its goals, objectives, and vision. Have the team discuss what it hopes to achieve, and make sure that the vision, or mission, is compelling and exciting for the entire team.

Then, have the team discuss the norms that are expected from everyone. In other words, what are some principles, values, or character traits that all members should strive for? This is where you can potentially discuss these key characteristics of top teams that Google discovered in their study (e.g., psychological safety, dependability, etc.). These can be recorded on the left arrow of the mountain towards the summit, emphasizing how important these norms are for taking the team closer to its vision.

On the other side of the mountain, discuss how the efforts of each member of the team can bring it closer to its goals. Write down what’s uniquely expected of each member, and make sure each individual knows why fulfilling those expectations are consequential for taking the team towards the summit (i.e., it’s vision).

Of course, this is just one way of doing it. But the point is, by using this simple, efficient, and engaging strategy, you can open up a productive discussion about goals, norms, and expectations. In addition, you end up with a physical group contract that you can keep and refer back to when you face various challenges.

More important, this tool gives us structure and clarity, which Google tells us is absolutely critical to team performance.