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Job descriptions versus job agreements


For years, I’ve been encouraging clients to create job agreements rather than job descriptions, but it wasn’t until last week that I fully appreciated the science behind why this simple shift in linguistics makes such a big difference in behavior.

Job descriptions are a one-way communication of what the requirements of the job entail.  Some include goals and expectation.  Good ones include what the employee can expect from the company as well.  But even at their best, a job description is just a one-way communication from company to employee.

Job agreements are a two-way communication between company and employee.  Rather than hand your employee their job description or bury it with other onboarding paperwork, a job agreement includes a dialogue where the manager and new hire discuss all aspects of the job, agree on them and sign off on each point that they are on the same page.
Over the years, various clients have thought that this simple adjustment was a stroke of genius (thank you).  Well, it’s time for an upgrade to sheer brilliance.

Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, gave an example of the power of connection in a recent keynote for CEOs from all over the world.  Simon asked us to imagine we had completed a tough and lengthy negotiation with a client.  In the end, we got everything we wanted.  After signing the contract, we extend our hand to shake on it, but they refuse to shake our hand.  Even though the contract was signed, the majority of the audience indicated they would be skeptical of the person who would not shake their hand.

Turns out there are feel-good hormones that our bodies produce when we shake on it giving our brains a sense of confidence, and feel-bad hormones we produce by not shaking on it that trigger skepticism.  Here is a simple equation:

High skepticism = low trust = low and slow productivity
High confidence = high trust = fast productivity
Okay, you know what’s coming next . . .

Upon conclusion of your well-crafted job agreement conversation, and signing off to ensure everyone is on the same page, add a simple handshake to seal the deal and enjoy the rush of feel-good hormones on your way to higher profit margins and lower employee turnover.

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Merit Gest

Merit Gest is President & Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in on-boarding top sales talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, on-boarding and retaining top sales talent.  Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or Merit@MeritGest.com

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