Fostering positive teamwork is important at RAIDBOXES. In the first part of this series of articles, we looked at how RAIDBOXES approaches constructive collaboration through a mental health team and nonviolent communication (NVC). To ensure this goal remains a priority as our team grows, we joined forces to create a RAIDBOXES code of conduct. Feel free to use our document as a template for your own code of conduct within your team.
What is a code of conduct and why is it important?
The RAIDBOXES code of conduct, in line with the Wikipedia definition of the term, contains rules and expectations on how we want to shape the interaction and communication within our team. It therefore expands the following RAIDBOXES values and norms with concrete recommendations for action:
With the help of the guidelines, these values should be integrated into everyday life in a sustainable and equal manner. The code of conduct is not just a long list of things we shouldn't do, however. Instead, it is a tool that reminds us to foster a working culture based on mutual consideration, active communication and trust. It applies to all employees as well as freelancers working for RAIDBOXES. The guidelines cover communication in the office, in Slack, (online) meetings, remote setups, team events, at WordCamps and other events. It also concerns direct personal conversations or chat services.
The basic principles of our code of conduct were developed by the Mental health and equality teams and based on our workshops on nonviolent communication (NVC). But our code of conduct is a living document. The mental health and equality roles take on suggestions or change requests from RAIDBOXES staff and feed these back to the whole team.
This is the full wording of the RAIDBOXES code of conduct as addressed to our employees:
RAIDBOXES code of conduct
1. Treat all employees with kindness and respect at all times
This includes listening to and respecting each other's point of view at all times, even in conflict situations. An example is letting the other person finish speaking. You should give honest feedback to avoid misunderstandings. Respectful, considerate and cooperative interaction also means responding to every request within a reasonable time, regardless of the channel through which it comes. If you are working, this means within 24 hours at the latest.
2. Awareness of a diverse team
RAIDBOXES is growing and becoming more diverse. We strive to create a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for everyone - regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ability or disability, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), age, social or economic status. Avoid statements and actions that could personally hurt others. Any form of discriminatory, derogatory or exclusionary language has no place at RAIDBOXES and you should ensure your statements and conduct reflect this.
3. Respond to different needs
Strive to understand, respect and protect the lifestyles, personalities and attitudes of your colleagues. In your communication, consider the relationship you have with a person. Behave professionally towards your colleagues. Casual communication is fine and encouraged but you shouldn't assume consent without reflection, especially when dealing with new employees. Be aware of the boundaries of your counterpart and respect them. Actively contribute to making everyone feel welcome in the team with your tone and behavior. If in doubt, ask.
4. Mindful communication
Mindful communication includes clear, active, considerate and empathic communication as practiced in our regular nonviolent communication training sessions. Use these trainings as needed to reflect on your own behavior or the behavior of teams. Refrain from using violent language.
5. Address and accept conflicts
The Holacracy, with which we organize ourselves, enables maximum freedom. At the same time, it doesn't mean we are free of conflicts. Working together at RAIDBOXES can generate friction. Address any conflicts directly, this is expressly encouraged at RAIDBOXES and is part of our corporate culture. Approach the persons concerned directly. Clearly state when you disagree with a statement or action. If none of this works, proactively look for ways to resolve the conflict (for example, our NVC training, mental health & mediation or the role of equality).
6. Documentation and orientation
Put agreements in writing so that positive cooperation and communication last. Conflict resolution should also lead to a concrete goal or result. If necessary, use examples to make your communication clearer. Signal to your counterpart if you want to have the result documented.
7. Requests and time out
Ask the other person again if you don't understand a statement or action. Say "stop" if an action doesn't correspond to your values. You can always ask for time to reflect, e.g. in a meeting to first gather your thoughts and respond to a statement at a later point. Let your colleagues know this is what you want to do, however, and don't just stall the communication.
8. Constructive approach
Use "I" messages instead of "you/we/they" (see the basics of nonviolent communication). Only use the "we" message if there's already an agreed consensus in the team. Work with positive and concrete formulations and with nonviolent language. In conflict situations, you can use the NVC model ofObserve -> Feelings -> Needs -> Request action. Mental health and NVC will also support you in this.
Always communicate as transparently as possible. Things that are mentioned to you in confidence should nevertheless remain confidential. Perhaps you can encourage colleagues to clarify these to a wider circle of people. Don't talk about others or about another team behind their backs, even if there is tension. Always involve the person or team directly. Remind your colleagues of this value if you encounter such behavior because it is unfair and causes trouble.
10. Respect for different ways of working and living
There are different ways in which employees and teams organize their work or structure their own personal work-life balance. Make sure that none of these ways are discredited or played off against each other in your statements.
11. Open cooperation
This code of conduct should not lead to employees feeling they're no longer allowed to raise certain issues or topics. Employees need to be confident they'll receive honest and constructive feedback. Speak up at any time if a statement or act doesn't correspond to your values or those of the code of conduct. This is the only way to keep communication open and to involve everyone as much as possible.
12. Remembering shared values
What happens when you encounter behavior, directed towards yourself or others, that isn't in line with the values of RAIDBOXES? In such cases, you're invited to remind your colleagues about our shared values at RAIDBOXES and refer to the code of conduct. Everyone at RAIDBOXES should take action. It is our joint responsibility and common goal to shape the way we work together in a positive way.
Support for the guidelines
What can you do as an employee of RAIDBOXES if you notice a violation of the code of conduct towards yourself or others?
- Share your impression straight away In this way, communication is directly improved and misunderstandings can be clarified. Does you counterpart not understand your point of view? Remind them directly of the value of transparency or "direct address". Your proactive and responsible action is important here so we can make long-lasting changes. If you find this difficult or if you're unsure, use the exercises from NVC. Or ask the mental health role which methods you can use to strengthen your communication.
- Make constructive suggestions on how to avoid conflict situations in the future. For example, honest feedback, new format, a different round of participants, regularly documented agreements or using the suggestion as an exercise in our NVC training.
- Point out to your colleagues if discussions develop into negative and unconstructive language.
- Remind your team that the code of conduct is a positive tool for open collaboration and not a tool for punishment. Do you have suggestions to improve the code of conduct? You can approach the mental health and equality roles at any time.
- If nothing else helps or you need support: contact your team leads, senior management or the mental health and equality roles.