Up-front contracts are commonly used between salespeople and their clients. These contracts are mutually agreed upon expectations between the individuals that establish what will happen next and provide a specific set of events that will occur. Establishing the parameters of this relationship before moving forward in any endeavor ensures that there will be no surprises.
In the relationship between employee and manager the up-front contract performs the same task by laying out goals and expectations of the department, the employee and the manager. These contracts allow the employee the opportunity to participate in setting and reaching their own goals whether these goals relate to their well being, pay, advancement, or another reinforcement that is meaningful to them.
A manager will sit down with an employee and each individual will agree upon what they will work on and what to expect of the other person. This is the primary means of establishing the supervisory function over the agreed upon period of time. These contracts typically encompass the function of supervision, coaching, mentoring and training.
Up-front contracts lay the formation of the working relationship between the manager and the employee. The language of the contract may describe the behavior expected from the employee in order to complete departmental goals which the employee is responsible for, an example of this is a computer analyst who is responsible for a component of software, or a salesperson who is responsible for filling a sales quota.)
Discussing mutual expectations sets expectations of employees and management, which can explicitly describe the training an employee needs, coaching the manager gives to foster behaviors of the employee towards a certain goal, or supervisory checkpoints to maintain flow and pace of work.
However, the up-front contract can limit the manager’s ability to provide services in certain cases where the implicit function depends on employee cooperation, such as mentoring. An employee must wish to utilize their manager as their mentor, but should more than one employee look for mentoring the manger will be spread too thin because mentoring is done on a one-on-one basis.
Many workplaces opt to overlook setting up contracts because gaining understanding of their function has a steep learning curve. But once a contract has been created there can be a continual process to improve the contract. The investment of time and energy does pay off in the end results.