The start of a new year, growth in your business, increasing complexity, new federal tax legislation, increasing competition, the introduction of new products or services… They’re just a few examples of business complexity that require strong leadership to chart a new destination and clarity to define success.
The answers to, “What direction are you heading?” and “Why are you heading that direction?” require leadership. In almost all cases, you will need to work with others and clearly communicate to inspire them to your vision of success.
What can we do to more quickly build a framework that engages our team members, outsiders, and other stakeholders and propels everyone’s actions to reach our desired level of success? Let’s consider focusing in 2018 on better and stronger agreements.
Agreements can be oral or written, simple or complex. The understanding on when and how to use an agreement in business is critically important to gaining trust, honoring relationships and putting dignity (“the state of being worthy of honor and respect”) into relationships, to create value and build a more profitable business model. Gaining agreement is not always easy, but it’s essential to any ongoing relationship.
Here are 6 items to help build strong agreements:
- Dream of the desired state and define why you desire it and what success looks like for you, your department and/or your company.
- Describe why the desired state is important to you, your team and your company.
- What must you do to achieve your dream and the success desired?
- Who is involved and needed to assist you in fulfilling and accomplishing your dream state?
- What are the specific messages you need to communicate, and what agreements are required to lead others to help you achieve this success?
- Develop a list of terms (the words and phrases that express the concepts required for a strong agreement). The terms must be clear to all parties involved in the agreement to achieve the desired outcomes.
Without strong agreement, we operate from a position of unconscious and often conflicting set of assumptions. In that position, relationships are fragile at best and most of the time the relationships are far less successful than desired.
When should you worry that your agreements might be weak? Consider these 3 warning signs:
- Employees or stakeholders refuse to share ideas, or their ideas are not acknowledged.
- Solutions to issues and problems are incomplete and not resolved, causing frustration and confusion.
- Complex challenges are not dealt with efficiently or in a manner quickly enough to make a real difference.
When the people involved in the company struggle to see eye to eye on an issue, their implicit vague agreement causes a misalignment. Misalignment creates greater risk and destroys value.
Most importantly, without clear agreements, our decision-making is clouded, and we fail to honor our own values. Leaders struggle to make timely and appropriate decisions, ultimately operating at a level far less than their potential.
The same applies to employees. In the absence of strong agreements, we set them up for poor performance and failure. Questions left unanswered in the culture include: “How do we interact to achieve the desired results?” “What are the unwritten rules of the game?” “What level of autonomy and resource do I use to make an impact?”
Clarity for both the supervisor and employee on responsibilities, accountabilities, duties and performance levels through strong agreement relieves the pressure and tension allowing for personal expression, business growth and the ability for the team to create value for the customer.
The use of agreements (both formal and informal) guides companies to make good decisions, and supports organizational capacity-building and maturity.
If you would like to learn more about building strong and better agreements with your employees and stakeholders, contact a ThistleSea Team member. We would be glad to help you and your organization.