Building Agreement: Cornerstone Of Success Or Failure

team success

team success

Caution:  Building agreement with this concept (and practicing the solution) will have great impact on your relationship with your team, your spouse, your kids, your dog and cat.  Ok, maybe not the cat...

Here's a common reality:  you have this great idea for solving an important problem and you share it with your team.  It's a fantastic meeting, you see pens moving and heads bopping and you walk out feeling accomplished, knowing that great things will happen.  Except, they do not.  In fact, when you check back with your key people a week later, you find that everybody remembers the agreements differently and nobody is on the same page.  All your feelings of accomplishment fizz away and you seriously consider pulling your hair out.  What went wrong?

Nodding heads and encouraging words made you assume you had agreement.  You told them what needed to happen and your assigned action items.

  1. Instead of making your team part of solving the problem, you just told them your solution.  You missed valuable different perceptions of the situation, identifying the understanding of the problem, and its root causes as seen from the perspectives of the various experts on your team.
  2. Statistics show that the more involved people are in the process of reaching a solution, the more invested they are in carrying it out.  You assumed that presenting your proposal meant that you had agreement on the solution.
  3. Sometimes it is not possible to involve everybody in solving the problem.  This may have been one of those times.  But after you presented the problem and the solution, did you check for understanding?  This can be as easy as asking everybody to paraphrase their understanding of the problem and the solution.
  4. Check for agreement.  Look every person in the eye and ask:  "do you agree?"

Hint:  It is very easy to nod your head when someone asks: "does everybody agree"?  Try asking: "is there anything you don't agree with"?  You might get some valuable input that needed an opening to come out.