Transforming Team Dynamics Through the Power of a Team Covenant


In the realm of organizational dynamics, the success of a team often hinges on its culture, particularly the way individuals relate to one another, the norms they follow, and the values they uphold. However, many teams find themselves navigating these waters without a clear compass, leading to confusion, inconsistency, and even some level of conflict and discord within a group. This is the challenge facing numerous organizations, including many clients that On The Edge has worked with in the past.


The concept of a Team Covenant emerged as a beacon of hope for teams seeking to chart a new course towards more positive and productive team cultures. Generally, a Team Covenant serves as a guiding document that codifies the key values and practices essential to fostering an uplifting and cohesive team environment. 

Specifically, the Team Covenant outlines the expectations for how leaders and team members will interact and work together in a positive manner on a daily basis, providing a source of truth and accountability within the organization.

The main objective of a Team Covenant is to articulate a shared vision of how a team will operate and the actions individual team members will take. Moreover, grounded in insights gleaned from experiences such as On The Edge’s Social Styles Workshop and Team Challenge Course, the Team Covenant establishes a set of expectations that clarify how team members will collaborate, relate to one another, and contribute to a powerful, positive, productive team culture.


In our extensive work with various organizations, we've observed a common pattern: team culture is often left to chance or occurs by default. In due time, without intentional design and clarity around values and practices, teams can drift aimlessly, with individuals receiving mixed messages about expected behaviors. 

This lack of clarity can enable actions and team dynamics that are inconsistent with or don’t model the values and spirit of the team. Overall, lack of alignment and clarity can create team or group dysfunction, hindering an organization's overall success.

The absence of a Team Covenant exacerbates these challenges, leaving employees to navigate the murky waters of team dynamics on their own. Without a shared framework for behavior and accountability, negative patterns can take root, leading to toxic, unproductive work environments and diminished team effectiveness.


The issue of unclear expectations can be particularly pronounced during employee onboarding, especially when new hires encounter discrepancies between an organization’s stated values and actual workplace behaviors. This disconnect can leave employees feeling adrift, unsure of how to navigate the complexities of team dynamics without clear guidance.

The consequences of this ambiguity are far-reaching, as conflicting behaviors and norms can sow discord and erode trust within a team. In the absence of a Team Covenant, individuals are left to fend for themselves, resulting in a fragmented team culture and diminished performance.

If the symptoms above are left unchecked for too long, a team can become dysfunctional. Dysfunctional teams often exhibit a strong lack of alignment on shared values and practices, rewarding unproductive behaviors and diminishing opportunities for growth. Dysfunctional dynamics enable toxic behaviors to thrive, undermining a team's cohesion and effectiveness.

Imagine a sports team brimming with talent expected to clinch the championship, yet falling short of their potential due to selfish attitudes and dysfunctional team dynamics. Despite their individual capabilities, these toxic group behaviors, left unchecked, infected the team’s culture, undermining team cohesion and thwarting each team member’s potential contribution. Consequently, this jeopardizes the team’s overall success, resulting in disengagement and underperformance, posing a significant threat to collective success. Even though each member is individually talented, their lack of team cohesion and camaraderie prevents them from winning the championship.


Amidst the challenges of dysfunctional team dynamics lies an opportunity for transformation. Rather than resigning themselves to the status quo, teams can seize the opportunity to enact intentional change through volitional actions and behaviors that are articulated in the Team Covenant.

Creating a Team Covenant offers teams the chance to align around a shared purpose and vision, laying the foundation for a more cohesive and collaborative culture. By identifying key values and practices that embody their ideal team culture, teams can bridge the gap between aspiration and reality, fostering greater alignment and synergy.

To begin with, team members must reflect on their past experiences of being on good and not-so-good teams to identify the dynamics that enabled the dysfunctional, poor performing teams and what dynamics supported the great, high performing teams. Drawing on these insights, they identify the core practices and behaviors that will guide their team culture, setting the stage for meaningful transformation.

Team Covenant

Once core values and practices are identified, teams engage in open dialogue to further refine their Team Covenant. Drawing upon their collective experiences, they pinpoint the fundamental behaviors that will shape their culture, ensuring buy-in and alignment across the team.

With core shared values and practices established, teams embark on the process of drafting their Team Covenant. Focused on distilling these principles into actionable guidelines, the team outlines specific behaviors and norms that will govern their interactions and give clarity to expected behaviors which team members would hold each other accountable for.

Upon finalizing the Team Covenant, teams celebrate this milestone and the collective effort invested in shaping their culture. Each team member commits to upholding the covenant, fostering a culture of accountability and continuous improvement. Additionally, many teams choose to sign their Team Covenant as a further demonstration of their commitment to creating a positive team culture. 

Monthly team check-ins provide valuable feedback and insights, guiding the team's journey towards a more positive and productive future. Further, many teams conduct regular assessments that rate how they and their fellow team members are doing in upholding the Team Covenant through their behavior and interactions, then identify areas that they are all committed to improving.


In the journey to building a high-performing team, the creation of a Team Covenant serves as a catalyst for meaningful change. By articulating shared values and practices, teams can overcome challenges, foster alignment, and unlock their full potential. The power of a Team Covenant lies in its ability to unite individuals around a common purpose and propel teams towards success.