People Management Skills: Are You Seeking Enough Agreement?

management skillsPeople Management Skills: The Importance of Agreement

I guess very few managers these days want to impose their views on their employees (although there will always be exceptions!). The good news is you don’t have to – if you have the management skills you need to gain agreement from your staff. But agreement about what? Here are three areas where, I believe, gaining agreement from your employees will bring great benefits – to you, your employees and your business


Management Skills 1: Agreeing Performance Objectives

I’m sure you know that most employees are more committed to achieving performance objectives that they have been fully involved in defining. Of course some objectives are imposed on us from above, and some objectives are simply not negotiable but often the objectives we want to agree with our employees related to performance improvement are those we can have flexibility on. A neat way to gain agreement to these performance objectives is to go back a step and have your employees write the objectives themselves (we’d hardly disagree with a performance objective we’d written would we?)


How? You can; use draft objectives you have written, ask the employee to write a draft of the objectives or use current objectives (read more on options for involving your employees in writing objectives in my blog ‘Performance Objectives: Deadly Sin No. 4’) You then simply work together to refine, amend and edit until you have performance objectives that you can both agree describe effective performance for the job. Simple management skills that really builds commitment


Management Skills 2: Agreeing Monitoring Methods

There’s very little point agreeing performance objectives if you don’t then go on to agree how you are going to monitor actual performance against those objectives (because it’s ‘objectives with effective measures’ that improve performance) The first step is to agree the appropriate monitoring methods. At the basic management skills level you would then agree with your employee which methods you (the manager) will use – simply so that your employee knows what to expect (it’s rather disconcerting to find  your manager peering at you closely in a team meeting unless you know that they are using ‘observation’ as a monitoring method!) A higher management skills level is to agree with your employee how they will monitor their own performance. A simple way to approach this is to ask your employee the question ‘How will you know you are on track for meeting this objective?’  You can then go on to agree with the employee which monitoring methods they will use and which you will use. Practical management skills that really improves performance


 Management Skills 3: Agreeing Performance Feedback

One of the neatest management skills to have is the ability to agree (rather than simply give) performance feedback. Most people – given the chance – would prefer to review their own performance, with your input, rather than having feedback imposed on them. When you apply the management skills of agreeing performance objectives and agreeing monitoring methods, then agreeing performance feedback is really very straight forward. All you need to do is to give your employee some guidelines on how to prepare to review their own performance (you could use section one from the ‘performance review checklist for employees’ I’ve outlined in my blog ‘How to help your employee prepare for the appraisal meeting’). In the meeting you can then ask the employee to review their performance. You would then add your own comments (because employees will still want your feedback) and then go on to agree the performance feedback. This management skill is all about having informative, respectful, ‘adult to adult’ conversations with your employees – conversations where two people simply share information and reach agreement


Management Skills Summary: Agreement – A word of caution!

Gaining agreement is a management skill that can have a very positive impact on employee performance and job satisfaction. But now a word of caution. Agreement and permission are two very different things. You are not asking permission to set objectives, apply monitoring methods or give performance feedback – those are your management rights, and a key part of your management role.  And there are situations when imposing your views – performance objectives, performance feedback and so on – is the most appropriate action to take (managing poor performers or new inexperienced recruits for example).  In short, agreement is a great management skill – for most, though not all, situations



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