Reaching Business Agreement

To successfully achieve business goals generally requires having people on the same page. Yet, reaching business agreement can be very elusive. Why is that? I touched little on this in the related postings Employee Ideas and Employee Ideas Revisited.

My Way or the Highway

Have you ever worked somewhere that was run by someone who always thought their way of doing things was the only acceptable way? First, consider that we all have the tendency to think our way is the best way. But, the inability to even listen to and consider others’ suggestions will likely prevent agreement on what to do and how to do it. Even if this lack of agreement is not expressed, it continues to impact results if people do not whole-heartedly participate. So, I would suggest that business owners and managers take the time to hear others suggestions, ask pertinent questions, and give honest feedback. Who knows, someone else may have a better idea or cause you to tweak your own ideas. Additionally, owners and managers need to be willing to let others question their solutions as well. If their ideas and plans cannot withstand questioning then maybe they should be scrapped or at a minimum revised. Another danger of the “my way or the highway” mode of operating is that people become discouraged and then disengaged. Even worse, good employees may indeed choose to “hit the highway”.

my way or the highway

Suggestion One

When you need to solve a problem or merely implement some new procedure, it is a good idea to gather the people most impacted and ask for their input. Buy-in is crucial to reaching business agreement, so here are a few things to consider:

  • At the outset establish the rule that nobody’s ideas will be immediately attacked
  • Avoid comments such as, “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard”
  • In general, hold questions until the person is finished speaking
  • When it is time to ask questions, be sincere
  • Avoid asking in a way designed to put others down or embarrass them

Suggestion Two

Before immediately rejecting others’ ideas, take time to serious consider the merits of their suggestions. Perhaps they are not the best at presenting their thoughts, but a few well-directed questions can refine their ideas, and you may find that in the end what they suggest actually makes a lot of sense, even if only a portion can be used.

Why this Matters

We all want to be taken serious. We stand a much greater chance of reaching business agreement when we get others actively involved. That is because people are more likely to buy-in to the final decisions if they know they were heard and made a part of the decision-making process. My personal experience has taught me that asking the people working for me in seemingly unchanging roles what they think can provide some insight that I would never has come up with on my own.

One note of clarification is in order. I’m realistic, so I recognize that most of the routine things in the daily life of a company really just need an immediate decision and a major discussion is not in order. What this article is about is those decisions that have significant impact on future operations. That would include things like a new product line, opening another branch, etc.

How do you reach agreement in your company? Does one person make nearly all the decisions and others are just there for the ride?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact


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