Whatever You Agree – Write it Down

What's not on paper was never said

“What’s not on paper, was never said.”

– Anon

How many argument end up in this type of exchange?

‘No! You said…’.

‘I didn’t say that, you said that! And you said…’.

‘No I didn’t!’

And so it goes on.

Two people can experience the same event and have very different interpretations of what happened. Both versions may be true for them.

I have worked with young entrepreneurs who, for the first time, are managing teams in a startup. One common failing is about agreeing upfront responsibilities and accountabilities.

When setting tasks or goals they don’t write down and agree the consequences of actions. They think it is unfair, rude or too didactic.

When things go well, consequences don’t matter. When things don’t go well, what’s on paper is important.

When consequences are agreed upfront and written down, you can avoid, ‘You said… No you said…’ type discussions, which often become heated and emotional, and are upsetting for both parties.

If you can show on paper what was agreed; discussions can be based on resolution rather than assigning blame.

Constant communication is required: the manager needs to regularly check-in to ensure problems are not stacking-up; employees need to highlight potential problems early so action can be taken. Write that down.

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