Connecting through Social Contracts
The thought of a thing is often more fulfilling than it’s reality. I wonder if that’s true of social contracts for organizations.
We talk about connecting, but what are we doing to create, deepen, and protect connections.
Talk is self-affirming gibberish without action.
Words or Actions:
Ask leaders if they believe in connecting and they’ll raise their eyes like you’re stupid.
But ask, “What are you doing to help people connect?” and they look stupid.
Stop babbling and create social contracts that define, deepen, and protect relationship within your organization.
Invite everyone to participate in crafting a social contract. Don’t create it for people.
Engage people if you expect them to be engaged.
Develop an agreed upon social contract by addressing topics like:
- How do you want to be treated by co-workers?
- How do you want to treat co-workers?
- Describe unacceptable relationship violations. (How do you not want to be treated?)
- What is the goal of connecting with co-workers?
- How can we help people connect?
Define your aspirations for relationship.
Describe rewards, recognition, and honor for outstanding success in upholding social contracts. Dinner out or leave work at noon on Friday, for example.
Create agreed upon consequences for violations of your social contract. Focus on fun consequences like paying fines for minor offenses. Don’t wait for big stuff.
Start meetings by asking, “Who have you seen upholding our social contract? What did they do?”
Review your social contract every six months to keep it fresh and top of mind.
Build social contracts on an individual level if not organizationally, try addressing topics like:
- What does support, respect, or encouragement look like to you?
- I feel connected when…?
- Our work relationship is strengthened when… (weakened when)
- I commit to…
I’ve never seen or developed a social contract for an organization. Have you?
What are the pros and cons of developing social contracts? How would you develop and implement a social contract?
Never done written or been part of a social contract at work.
Think it is a good idea and worth a try.
As with everything else working for someone else who writes the paychecks, up to them.
That is of course I know it is right in my gut in which case I annoy everyone till the truth gets to the third stage if self evident!!!! Lol
I am not sure what the magic formula to getting everyone on board as passionate crusaders but working on it.
Thanks Scott…best I have on getting people involved is to involve them. Cheers
If you only knew what a valiant effort I have been making!!!!
A prophet in his own country knows no glory, yet.
We use social contracts in our classes in middle school. When done well with student input and followed faithfully, they really work. The students MUST create and own the social contract for it to work. So, Dan, everything you say in your column is true. I like the part about doing it individually first, though. That gets one’s mind ready to accept the c ompleted contract. Thanks.
Thanks Diane…I hadn’t thought about starting this idea on an individual level. It makes sense…Perhaps as a way of getting to where you want to go…have some people pilot their own social contracts and report on the results…then move to organizational development and implementation.
We established a “social contract” that applies to both external and internal relationships.
1. Mutual trust.
2. Mutual respect.
3. Mutual appreciation.
This began as we defined our requirements for the type of client we would work with on projects. We then realized that it also applied internally.
If a client violates it, we will not work with them. If it is violated internally, it is addressed very directly with termination as the last resort.
I believe that making social contracts individually only makes sense if we are trying to genuinely create authentic relationships.
social contracts has many advantages on all aspects. Thank
you for sharing your information.
We use social contracts regularly in the Uniterian Universalist church. No one does a whole congregation often have an ongoing general contract or covenant, but each group, committee and class often creates a behavioral agreement for the year, term or length of the class. They work quite well.
I have also seen this used in short workshops or in non-profit organizations. However, I’ve never seen it in the workplace. At work, folks tend to expect the boss or leadership to set and hold the standard.
The concept of social contract is age old. Businessmen used to make temples in India to connect people. People going to temples used to create emotional attachment with the people who made temples and finally people liked the activities of the person who created temples. And in this way, they used to create social contract, by connecting people emotionally. Similarly, organizations today, have program to socially connect with people, but they are generally superficially propagated and on the surface. They are not strong enough to create feeling among people. They are not even seen or visible to people. The need is to create a feeling of visibility about social contract by organizations. I can say with confidence that I have seen organizations developing social contract in theory but not in practice.
I think the concept of social contract has great significance but there could be unfavorable impact if it is not perceived positively. So, if I need to create social contract, I would rather create positive perception about my intention and its possible consequences.