You can’t manage anything your people don’t agree to do. This is why employees’ agreement to do the work, coupled with their commitment to follow through and their willingness to be accountable, are at the heart of working relationships that really work.
Two important principles are Management by Agreement and Management by Exception. The principles of management by agreement and by exception are the foundation for effective working relationships.
These principles mean:
- The manager and employee have agreements about what work is to be done and how and when the work is to be done. Often these agreements are expressed in documented business systems.
- Any changes in the work requirements are made only after mutual agreement between the manager and the employee.
- The employee takes on full accountability for performing work and achieving results as agreed, and the manager is accountable for providing the employee with the resources and guidance needed.
- Exceptions to the agreement are reported immediately. The employee is accountable for notifying the manager and any other affected people in writing if the work will not be performed or the system carried out as agreed. The manager also notifies the employee if commitments made by the manager cannot be achieved.
- The manager can assume the work is being performed as agreed unless otherwise notified.
- Periodic check-ins between the employee and manager, called “reporting loops,” are the main vehicle for keeping each other informed about how work is progressing.
- Failure to notify of changes, exceptions, or missed due dates is not acceptable.
- Relationships built on trust are developed as managers and employees keep their commitments and successful results are achieved.
Now, you might ask how do you get your employees’ agreement?
Here are four methods that will help you:
First – Make sure they sign their performance agreements.
Second – Request they learn and agree to follow orchestrated systems
Third – Ensure they sign delegation agreement forms or agree in some other written form.
Fourth – Clarify through verbal agreement (while this method is not recommended, yet it is better than nothing).
I’m sure you know that systems can’t possibly account for every variation that may occur as people do their work, day in and day out. So, using management by agreement and exception, you can operate with the understanding that:
- all work proceeds according to a defined system, and
- any situation outside the bounds of the system (an exception) needs to be identified so that you can decide whether and how the exception should be handled.
Management by agreement and management by exception are cornerstones of our company’s management system. These principles presume you want an environment based on respect and trust, not fear or intimidation.
Remember, if they don’t agree, you can’t count on the result; and if you can’t count on the result, you can’t be free to work on your own results. The development of your business can slow down and your business goals will be compromised.
If I can help you create the principles of managing by agreement and managing by exception, please reach out to me for a free consultation. Also be sure to watch my video series for more information on this topic and others.