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Should we regularly reaffirm a set of ground rules for safe working spaces?

While ground rules should be used in training and onboarding employees, they also need to be reaffirmed periodically to ensure they are fully normalised and adopted into the culture of the organization - remembering that by “safe spaces” we mean behaviourally and emotionallyEmployees should have the ground rules integrated into their mindsets and behaviors, and to do that, they must be reaffirmed.

Processes for re-affirming ground rules can usually benefit from the presence of an impartial, empathetic facilitator. The facilitator can help establish and maintain safe space practices, as well as model appropriate behaviours for employees.

The facilitator can be chosen from the team - someone who is relatable and able to connect with others easily is best. Meetings that have sensitive or difficult topics will particularly benefit from a facilitator.

A facilitator can use fun, interesting ways to reaffirm the ground rules. Good opportunities for re-affirming ground rules are:

  • Meetings

  • Large group process gatherings

  • Annual values day

  • Training programs

  • Workshops


If the organisation has documented its ground rules for safe spaces, then it can make it that much easier to discuss and reaffirm. But a document alone won’t be sufficient - they can only come to life through dialogue and storytelling.

It is important to remain mindful of how the re-affirming of ground rules will be perceived by employees. When done with dignity and integrity with real-life examples and genuine care, re-affirming ground rules resets the organization back on its intended path. If there is a tone of patriarchy or "do as I say, not as I do", however, it will just feel like hypocritical lip service to employees.

... the changes we make will be in the direction of greater empowerment, partnership, and service—these are the principles of stewardship on which we will create our future.

Peter Block

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  1. John Featherby

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