Expectation v. Agreement

In learning how to coach, I came across an audio by Steve Chandler on Expectation v. Agreement. He argues that expectation is disastrous and agreements are powerful.

He tells a story of an executive whose product manager isn’t getting things done on time.

Steve Chandler asks the executive, “What agreement do you have with him?”

Executive: “What do you mean? I told him to get it done by Friday.”

Steve: “But did you co-create an agreement with him to get it done by Friday?”

Executive: “No.”

They get in a meeting with the three of them and the executive does as his coach instructed and asks the product manager, “Could you get this done by Friday?”

Manager: “If you give me another person to do the job, we could do it by Friday. Otherwise, I could get it done by next Thursday.”

The executive is surprised to hear this, and thinks for a minute.

Executive: “I’ll get you another person. If I do that, could you get it done by Friday?”

Manager: Yes.

Then they shook on it.

And the project was done on Friday.

They both worked together to create an agreement.

It wasn’t one side telling the other what was expected of them, it was a mutual act of co-creation with creativity and collaboration.

I’ve found that no-oriented questions like, “Would anything prevent you from getting this done by Friday?” seem to work a little better for this.

Bonus thought:

My response was, “Yes, but how do I apply this to coaching?”.

Here’s an example of how it’s used in coaching relationships:

In the first conversation you get key agreements where you work together to define what you both want for confidentiality, timeliness, “homework”, etc. for both the coach and the client. You agree on what you are committing to do.

The first agreement is that you don’t agree to anything you don’t agree with. If something doesn’t feel right, say so.

These agreements can then be updated as needed through the same co-creation process.

You can do the same thing with your clients with a little adjustment.


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