Working Collaboratively Across Disciplines an iEMBER Community Resource


  • Create A Team Charter to Articulate Structure For The Group
  • Use Strategies to Build Trust and Set Group Norms
  • Review, Be Mindful of, and Use Strategies to Actively Promote Inclusion
  • Know, Share & Use Constructive and Destructive Group Behaviors To Improve Group Dynamics


Building Trust and Session Norms 

  • Give others the benefit of the doubt
  • Reduce, recognize, and eliminate assumptions.
  • Listen actively, and be open.
  • Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks—focus on ideas.
  • Participate to the fullest of your ability.
  • The goal is not to agree—it is to gain a deeper understanding.
  • Be conscious of body language and nonverbal responses.
  • Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing.
  • Be aware of turn-taking and interruptions, both in yourself and in others.
  • Take steps to build sustained, ongoing positive interactions
  • Small Considerations add up; 
  • Speak up for others  “I am interrupting because I observed that Jana did not get to finish what she was saying and I’d like to give her the opportunity.


Thoughts on Promoting Inclusivity

  • Purposefully create opportunities to think and talk (use structured wait-time, think-pair-share)
  • Actively manage the participation of all (multiple hands, multiple voices, random order, sequential share)
  • Monitor behavior to cultivate divergent thinking (open-ended questions, do not judge responses)
  • Acknowledge Implicit biases. Implicit biases are outside of our conscious control and affect our perceptions and understanding of the world and impact our decision making. 
  • Whoever talks has the power. Equity is about access and power; whoever has the floor has the power. Listening is as important as speaking, use appropriate pauses and wait for others to process before sharing.
  • Participation is not only about who is in the space, but also about how they’re doing in the space. Creating a system that works for people with many different, intersecting identities is a prerequisite. 
  • Opportunities to Think and Talk (structured wait-time, think-pair-share) 







Constructive Group Behaviors
(everyone sometimes leans towards one or more of these)


• Cooperating: Is interested in the views and perspectives of other group members and is willing to adapt for the good of the group.

• Clarifying: Makes issues clear for the group by listening, summarizing and focusing discussions.

• Inspiring: Enlivens the group, encourages participation and progress.

• Harmonizing: Encourages group cohesion and collaboration.

• Risk taking: Is willing to risk possible personal loss or embarrassment for the group or project success.

• Process Checking: Questions the group on process issues such as agenda, time frames, discussions topics, decision methods, use of information, etc.


Destructive Group Behaviors
(everyone sometimes leans towards one or more of these)


• Dominating: Takes much of meeting time expressing self-views and opinions. Tries to take control by use of power, time, etc.

• Rushing: Encourages the group to move on before task is complete. Gets “tired” of listening to others and working as a group.

• Withdrawing: Removes self from discussions or decision-making. Refuses to participate.

• Discounting: Disregards or minimizes group or individual ideas or suggestions. Severe discounting behavior includes insults, which are often in the form of jokes.

• Digressing: Rambles, tells stories, and takes group away from primary purpose.

• Blocking: Impedes group progress by obstructing all ideas and suggestions. “That will never work because...”


Constructive/Destructive Group Behaviors obtained from Pfund, C., Brace, C., Branchaw, J., Handelsman, J., Masters, K., & Nanney, L. (2014). Mentor training for biomedical researchers. Adapted from Adapted from Brunt (1993). Facilitation Skills for Quality Improvement. Quality Enhancement  Strategies. 1008 Fish Hatchery Road. Madison WI 53715



Team Charter Template


Goals: what does the team want to accomplish together?



How will we communicate (email, SLACK, QUBEShub messages, text, zoom, phone calls, text messages)?


What are our response time norms? Do members have protected time during each day, week, month, etc… (will I/you/we work or reply to emails in the evenings, on weekends, holidays, finals week, etc.)


How will the group ensure that there is clarity in assignments/tasks (will lists of action items be distributed or posted, will QUBEShub To-Do post-its be used, will Gantt charts or project management strategies be used)? 





What naming conventions will be used for folders and documents (using the date or version # for documents with multiple drafts, adding member’s initials to the document name after review/revision...)?


Where will documents be stored and how will they be distributed to the group. (google folder linked to QUBEShub).


Will we work collaborative documents like google-docs, or have someone gather track changes and merge documents? How will we collect and add citations/references when writing collaboratively?




When should meetings occur, how often, how long should a team meeting be? Will the team have a set recurring meeting (the first Friday of each month)?


Technology: what platform will be used for meetings (zoom/webex/teams/conference call),  and how will meetings be scheduled (what meeting polls do members use –calendly, doodlepoll, when2meet, findtime & which ones sync with members’ professional calendars)?


Who schedules the meetings and how are meeting times communicated (link included in a calendar invite, email, posted as an update in the QUBEShub project space)?


Who will take minutes or notes? what other meeting roles exist? How will these documents be accessed (emailed, posted to QUBEShub, google-doc/google folder linked to QUBEShub)?




What should be done to encourage everyone to participate? How will we encourage members to listen attentively and respectively to others? Should the team have practices to limit interruption or prevent criticism?


How will we assign roles, will we rotate them? What are legitimate reasons for missing meetings? How and how often will we review time/effort capacity changes of members?




How are you going to recognize each other as individuals and build a mutually respectful community where all group members feel fully able to contribute? (team-building, deep listening, cultural wellness, grace, what is the plan for pre-empting and addressing implicit bias, micro-aggressions, interpersonal conflicts, etc.) doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.2073



Decisions: How will the team make decisions (must everyone agree for consensus, will voting or another individual mechanism be used to determine all viewpoints, should anyone have veto power?



Forming Storming and Norming: How should the team enforce these norms? What should be done when team members do not complete tasks/assignments, or complete them poorly? What strategies will the team use as the group progresses from forming, where politeness will sometimes cause individuals to hold back, to storming where friction can bubble up, to norming where the group is in its stride?