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Is your working agreement Non-Negotiable?

There is an interesting feature in contract law: contracts must be negotiable. I suppose the courts feel if you enter into a non-negotiable contract you are not truly entering the agreement freely. Of course, there is no requirement to negotiate or even concede terms just that the contract be negotiable to be enforceable. A common tactic companies use is to pre-print contracts or print contracts with the words “non-negotiable” at the top.

I received one such contract from a company when negotiating a coaching deal and returned the contract marked up. The sourcing manager called and said the contract was non-negotiable and no one had ever tried to negotiate the terms before. I thanked the source manager and suggested she forward to legal as my amendments were important. Less than a day later all the amendments were approved by legal in “an unprecedented move” the sourcing manager had never seen before.

Why do I lead with this story? My job is to negotiate contracts and continuously deal with organizational bureaucracy to get things done. I have developed this skill with years of trial and error. Our teams … have not!

When we look at creating working agreements for our team are we making them “seem non-negotiable”?

  • Is the working agreement buried inside of a PowerPoint presentation of an executive presentation pitch
  • Is the working agreement Printed on the Wall
  • Was the working agreement handed to the team on start without dialogue
  • Do we never ask the team, proactively, to revisit
  • Do we “not so subtley” demand our terms

I see the above and many other methods of inadvertently making our teams working agreements non-negotiable. Let’s look inwards our ourselves and the way we work with our teams and make sure we have working agreements that are for the team and not directives from leadership.


Ennis Lynch

Ennis Lynch

Ennis Lynch is a Professional Coach Based in South Florida. His primary area of coaching focuses on coaching Software Engineering Leadership. On occasion he does Agile Transformation work as well but prefers coaching at the Team and Individual level vs. the organizational level.


If you have ever wondered: is professional coaching right for you ? Are you a Software Engineering Manager, Director of Engineering, Director of Software Engineering, VP of Engineering, or CTO reach out for a free initial coaching session. Initial coaching sessions are the real deal, no hard-sells, no "here is what you would get if you paid". Individuals that receive a free coaching session will get a normal private professional coaching session of 90 minutes (30 minute onboarding + 60 minute coaching) and it will be up to you to follow-up if you want to continue with help on your journey.


Ennis Lynch

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