You may have raised an eyebrow when you read the subject line of this week’s Gold Nugget. You may associate contracting with a legal act, something official and may be wondering what this has to do with managing or leading.
But Contracting is essentially ensuring that all “interested” parties know what is specifically happening between individuals and what it potentially means for them as an individual. In the model I describe it is the terms and conditions between two people (or a team) working together. It is essential to build trust between a manager and their direct report, and therefore extremely important. You will see that it is also about managing people’s expectations whether they are a new hire or they are established and high up in a company’s hierarchy.
How often does this happen? Not enough! How often do you take the time to “contract” when a new team member joins from outside your company or when someone joins your team from another department?
What does contracting look like? A new member joins your team and you meet with them for the first time. You plan sufficient time; the setting can be formal in the office or informal over lunch. You cover questions like:
o What expectations you have of them and vice versa?
o What motivates and demotivates them (and you)?
o What drives the two of you?
o What communication methods do the two of you prefer (email, phone, video-chat, slack, messaging, etc.)?
o What are each other’s information needs?
o How much detail of information does each of you need?
o How often and in what setting should one-on-one meetings take place?
o What structure should these meetings take?
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you as the leader to prepare well for this meeting and to be clear about your own answers to these questions. The amount of information you are willing to share about yourself drives the willingness of your team member to share about themselves. It takes you to be open for them to be open.
One of my previous clients used this format in his first meeting with his new leader and reported back that it helped him to get off to a great start.
When will you have a chance to give this a try? By the way – it is never too late to getting to know your team members better and for them to get to know you.
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If you find this inspiring and you would like to explore further how we could work together, I am delighted to meet with you for a 30-minute-free-of-charge-info-session