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The Adult Contract

Written by Alex Freytag on May 21, 2015

Implementers EOS People Leadership Teams

Adult contractAt EOS we coach leadership teams to be open and honest with each other. This means they should be solving business issues without blame and finger-pointing. Proposed solutions to issues should be agenda-free. Leadership teams should have a united front and strive to eliminate politics from the culture. In other words, it’s about having a healthy, functional, cohesive team.

In order for a company to have this level of health, they need to treat each other as adults. A mentor of mine, Brad Hams, taught something he called the Adult Contract. The adult contract is nothing anyone has to sign. It's a message you communicate to your team and your workforce that says simply this: We are all adults here. We all want the same things from working here: we want a great place to work, we want an enjoyable environment, and we’re all here to make some money. So as adults, we agree to do certain things, and we agree not to do certain things.

What Adults Don't Do in Business Teams

One thing adults agree not to do is shoot each other. In other words, we don’t shoot the messenger. When you yell at people or shoot down their ideas, they'll withdraw because you're creating a culture of fear. You could also miss out on innovative ideas, as your people become afraid to speak up.

Adults don’t hide problems. Hidden problems don’t get solved. Adults bring problems out of the dark and into the light. A healthy team will discuss its problems, openly and honestly, and solve them for the greater good of the organization.

Lastly, adults don’t argue with reality. We can’t go back and dwell in the past, assigning blame and pointing fingers. We have to acknowledge reality and discuss how we will solve the problem for the future. This is what healthy teams do.

What Adult Leadership Teams Do

Adults do some things as well. They take care of each other. They respect each other and they protect their home and their family—or in this case, they protect the company. They put the greater good of the company ahead of their own self-interest, recognizing that if we take better care of the WE, we can take better care of the ME.

The next time you and your leadership team are working to solve an issue, remember to apply the principles of the Adult Contract. Your team’s discussion and proposed solutions will all be focused on the Greater Good.

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