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Agreements stand until changed

Good Group Tips

In principle, the same formality is required to change an agreement as to make an agreement. For instance, if an agreement is made in a group meeting and properly documented, no member of the group should assume that the agreement has changed or act in ways contrary to the agreement until the agreement is changed in a group meeting and properly documented.

Group agreements often get ignored over time and people come to think it is okay to behave contrary to what was agreed to. The problem with this is that expectations become unclear, especially for newcomers. People are navigating according to different maps—some written, some imagined—and many people are lost. There is inefficiency, frustration, and resentment.

Practical Tip: Make group agreements with a degree of formality and write them down (in meeting notes or otherwise). When it becomes apparent that people are behaving contrary to an agreement there are two choices: Point out how behavior is contrary to an agreement (people may simply not know) and, if contrary behavior continues, enforce the agreement by imposing consequences on violators. Or, formally change the agreement to be in line with behavior. Things change and sometimes agreements need to change, fine.

Ignoring, condoning, or practicing disagreeable behavior is not a choice; not if you are striving for harmony, productivity, and efficiency in your group.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

2 thoughts on “Agreements stand until changed

  1. Hi Kathryn. Thanks so much for writing.

    I don’t mean to imply that anyone should be prevented from ‘speaking out’ against an agreement or ‘promoting’ a minority opinion, just that if people are ‘acting’ against an agreement than such action should be called out or the agreement should be changed.

    The principle here is that written agreements should be aligned with actions. We should either act in accordance with our agreements or change our agreements to match our actions.

    I think it is totally fine, indeed healthy, for one to speak out against agreements that one believes are counter to the group’s interests.

  2. Craig,
    you need to caution this rule because if you are working with a corporate board, there may be minority positions during a resolution. Even though a resolution has been passed, you can not prevent a member of the minority from speaking out to the corporate members. This is set in corporate law. I agree if harmony is the goal, but you can not implement a process and procedure that violates corporate law.

    This has been quite an issue for me this year since I have been in the minority of our HOA board and the majority have been taking actions with which I disagree, particularly involving the excess spending of funds. I expect the next election will see quite a change for the better.

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