Agreement takes place when people work together on harmonizing goals.
To create a culture where employees work with agreement is an essential step toward realizing positive team members’ behaviors. Agreement influences how consistently people cooperate, make decisions, solve customer issues, communicate, take ownership of results and support change.
Leaders who can win people’s hearts and minds to support the organization’s priorities, processes and goals will experience a motivated workforce.
But not all leaders have it that rosy. They regularly deal with dysfunctional team behaviors, such as employees looking out for themselves rather than the team, resistance to share information with others, chronic negativity and avoiding accountability or taking ownership of their work.
I’ve seen such ills in the culture compensated for with efficiencies and cost controls. Still, even that will catch up with even the most profitable organizations, making it difficult to remain viable.
Creating or sustaining agreement in your culture may seem simplistic, but it’s not. Here are six ways to create a positive culture of agreement.
1. Communicate expectations consistently. Many, if not most, managers overestimate the clarity of their communications to employees. Over the years, I’ve interviewed roughly 1,500 leaders, managers and employees, asking them to explain the company’s main goals or expectations. Less than 10% of these organizations sustain a consistent understanding of the main priorities between upper and lower levels of the organization. To get people moving in one accord, regularly communicate the expectations.
2. Allow honest, frank conversations. Management resistance to hearing critical ideas or problems frustrates employees. One manager grew tired of hearing about his staff’s issues, so he ordered them to stop using the term “problem” and instead bring only “opportunities” for a resolution to future meetings. At the next meeting, one of his team leaders was having difficulty describing a severe problem without using the term “problem.” So, she finally said, “Well it’s like this, I just discovered an opportunity on the production line that’s going to put us out of business!” Frank conversations surface issues and ideas you can use to help produce support for the company’s goals or direction.
3. Be careful about using incentivized competitions. Every part of a company’s culture affects people. Rolling out competition-based programs – though intended to drive better results – can backfire. I’ve seen more than one competition created to increase average performers’ results end up penalizing the company’s top performers. The incentive program ceased when they lost their best employee over it. Poorly designed programs also can build walls between departments.
4. Stop micromanaging. Clamping down on work independence isn’t the best route to better work commitments. One CEO told me there was no way he was a micromanager. However, every member of his leadership team confided that he managed the life out of them with unwarranted constraints and oversight. Provide all the autonomy possible if you want people’s support.
5. Stop tolerating mediocrity. Don’t kill robust agreement by being inconsistent with standards. Some managers are reluctant to be the boss and hold people accountable. But by enduring underperforming employees who didn’t meet the standards, it produced disastrous results. Confront problem behavior and remain committed to upholding standards with everyone.
6. Sympathetic listening. More than ever, people need strength, caring and empathetic understanding from leaders. When people go through a crisis, having a concerned boss creates more significant support and commitment.
People are not usually difficult to understand. They want to know their leaders care about them and are working on setting a strategic direction they can support.
Read profiles of this year's honorees.
Aaron York, general superintendent of Donco 3 Construction, describes what he sees in the construction job market in Springfield in 2021. Rachel York is the co-owner of Donco3 Construction.
Jim Meinsen gives his advice for finding new clients as the owner of a new or existing business. Jim and Debbie Meinsen own TCI Graphics, and recently celebrated 50 years in business.
Jeramey and Julia Henson discuss the reason they and HM Dentworks co-owner Chris McWhirter started the HM Dentworks Academy. With the job demands of their field taking them across the country, all three felt that they needed a plan for the future.
Caleb Scott, owner and coach of the Queen City Insane Asylum, says the name for the team was chosen lightheartedly. He said the name also catches people's attention.
Barak Hill gives advice based on what he learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected his business. He says we should all have a backup plan ready to use.
Sandy Higgins, owner of the Crackerjack Shack, recommends the book "The E-Myth Mastery" by Michael E Gerber. She says it changed the course of how she runs her business.
Aaron York describes the work culture he tries to foster at Donco3 and why he attributes to it a part of Donco3's success. Rachel York is a co-owner of Donco3 and Aaron is the General Superintendent.
Hollie Elliott, executive director of the Dallas County Economic Development Group, explains how local schools factor into business decisions and affect a local community.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, says an important lesson she learned was not to over-expand and to do her research before hand. She gives examples from her experience as a startup business owner.
Jim and Debbie Meinsen own TCI Graphics, and are now celebrating 50 years of business. Jim Meinsen takes some time to explain his philosophy on debt, and how to stay out of it.