“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” goes the old saying. Made famous by Benjamin Franklin in 1735, he was talking about fire prevention. Well, we aren’t in the business of actual fire prevention here at LeadQuine, but certainly in the proverbial sense, we are all about it.
It’s a little alarming how often we hear people in workplace teams say, “Well, let’s see how this plays out first before we react/step in/do something ‘drastic’.” Before anyone knows it, they are dealing with a situation which has gotten out of hand, and could have easily been prevented had there been some simple up-front agreements or clarifications.
Up-front agreements are very simple. They can be used in everything from a conversation to how a team functions. Many sales people use them (or should) in sales meetings to lay out the expectations from the beginning about where they hope the conversation will end up. Creating and sending out an agenda for a meeting ahead of time is creating an up-front agreement for how the meeting will progress. Sitting down with your team and developing a set of ground rules for how you will communicate about projects, how you will hold one another accountable, and how often you will meet are examples as well.
Clarifications are the same thing, only rather than being in place up front, they are sought mid-way into the process. Honestly, it feels a little silly to even write that down, but again, we are troubled by how often we work with teams unwilling to do these simple things, or just unaware that they should. More often than not, they are symptoms of a larger problem underlying how the team functions together.
The more important point, and question to ask yourself, is what stops you from engaging in these up-front agreements or clarifications? Are there issues of trust? Have you slipped into playing the blame game and avoiding taking responsibility? Is there a fundamental dislike or lack of respect for a colleague? Or is it simply that you’ve never stopped to think about it in these terms? Whatever the answers, we challenge you, dear reader, to take stock. Pick one opportunity where you could try out an up-front agreement. Map it out on paper or in your head. And then try it out. Let us know how it goes, and how we can help. Go save yourself a pound of cure!