Expectations Exchange

Expectations Exchange is a team building activity that provides clarity over respective roles in a team.

It can also easily be adapted to use between departments and with clients at the start of a project.

Expectations Exchange
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  • check
    To get clarity over people’s respective roles in a team.
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    To develop informal but clear ‘contracts’ between team members about how they are going to work with each other.

When Would You Use It?

  • When you’re looking for new team building ideas as newly formed teams will especially find this useful.
  • One of the biggest barriers to effective team working is a lack of clarity over respective roles.
  • Where there is a lack of clarity there will also be a mismatch of expectations which needs re-aligning.
  • It can also be used to align expectations between departments and customers with suppliers.

Are There Any Rules?

  • As with all team building ideas everyone should be open and honest about the current situation.
  • There needs to be willing from participants to follow-through and ‘deliver’ on the agreed contracts that are produced.

Resources Required

  • A willing group of people (no constraints other than time on how much exchanging happens).
  • Sufficient number of pre-printed ‘contracts’ for the size of group.
  • Everyone needs a pen.
  • Lots of sets of tables and chairs so people can move around the room.
  • Refreshments (keep them coming!)


  • 1
    The Facilitator explains the business objectives of the process (i.e. what is it we’re looking to achieve).
  • 2
    Each Participant identifies a person in the room who they need to work closely with.
  • 3
    In pairs, Participants separately complete the contracting template for the working relationship.
  • 4
    Swap lists of expectations and each Participant:
  • Review the other’s expectations of you. Do you understand each item? Are they reasonable expectations? What is the co-relation between what you thought you should be providing, and what they expect you to provide?
  • Review what they think you expect of them. Again, what is the co-relation.
  • 5
    Discuss and agree on any differences/omissions/additions, then re-write ‘the contract’ – two columns, a list of agreed expectations from each party
  • 6
    Repeat steps 2-5 with every person with whom you need to work closely

Secret Sauce

  • Take plenty of breaks – this is emotional stuff but the results will be well worth it. This tool is out of the top drawer of team building ideas.
  • If the atmosphere in the room starts to tire then get everyone together and do a quick Icebreaker to lighten the mood.

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About the Author

Nick Martin helps leaders & consultants improve team results with resources, advice & coaching through WorkshopBank.com

  • Joy Kelley says:

    Hello, I love the activity. I decided to use it differently for our multi-disciplinary team participants. I will have each person to stand individually. The scribe will write on chart paper responses from team members as to what they expect from that person in the role they serve as – counselor, social worker, administrator, student advocate, special education administrator, mental health professionals (they all do different things for students and some overlap), police officer, school nurse, etc.

    As I see it, one of the biggest barriers to effective team working is when there is a lack of clarity over respective roles. If this occurs, roles and expectations will also be skewed and unclear.

  • Pallavi Mazumder Borah says:

    sounds good.Will use it .

  • Gurunath Hari says:

    Much respect for your altruistic endeavour.

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