why management by agreement is more than just a staff management tool

Why ‘Management By Agreement’ is Much More Than a Staff Management Tool

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Management by agreement is often talked about from the point of view of managing your team. It’s a simple and very effective concept that involves the team taking ownership of tasks and results.

Instead of their manager telling them what to do, they make agreements with themselves about what is to be done. In other words, they take full ownership of the task. Once they’ve made an agreement, they then go about getting it done.

If they don’t, a question you can ask as their supervisor is something like “How did you make it ok to break the agreement you made with yourself?” rather than getting upset with them.

As a supervisor and manager you are taking a more supportive role.

People often confuse support with coddling, so I want to take a second to explain what I mean by support. Just because you’re not getting upset and raising your voice, doesn’t mean you’re letting them off the hook.

In my experience as a Business and Performance Coach, I’ve found that it’s actually far more confronting to calmly ask someone ‘How did you make that okay?’. It’s more confronting, while simultaneously being more supportive because you’re encouraging them to inspect their own behaviour and figure out ways to correct whatever isn’t working.

Management by Agreement works great in this context, and at the same time there’s a far more beneficial application of this system. I like to talk about it from the point of view of you, managing yourself by agreements.

Here’s what I mean by that. Let’s say you have a task that you want to get done. Here’s the way most people approach it:

  1. You decide to get something done (make an agreement with yourself to get it done)
  2. You make it done
  3. Evaluate; did you get the result you wanted or do you want to go back and make corrections?

One, two, and four are pretty self-explanatory. So, what’s step 3?

In my experience, step 3 is the biggest contributor to our self-esteem, and unfortunately is the step that gets skipped by most people.

Step 3 is called ‘Acknowledge the Done’. Once you’ve completed step 2, you’ve made it done which means you’ve kept an agreement you made with yourself. So, before you move on to evaluate how it went, take a second and just acknowledge yourself for keeping your agreement.

What often happens when we skip this step, is when we reach the ‘evaluation’ part of the process we evaluate with a more critical attitude. We can always see ways we could have done something better, faster, smarter, stronger, quicker etc., and when we don’t acknowledge ourselves before evaluating, we tend to be critical of ourselves, and get frustrated or upset in the evaluation.

Taking those couple of seconds to acknowledge that you did what you said you were going to do, typically leads to a more constructive evaluation as opposed to a negative and critical one.

One other thing I’ve noticed about this system and what happens when it is not implemented, is that people then tend to wait for others to acknowledge them. If that’s what people are doing, then that means that their self esteem is actually determined by what other people think of them.

The number one difference between people who are extremely successful and people who aren’t, is that people who are successful do what they say they’re going to do. Start implementing this version of Management by Agreement to increase your self esteem and build trust with yourself that you will do the things you say you’re going to do.

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