Are you wondering what small gift to get the manager in your life – one with whom you live or work? Or, perhaps for yourself! A little, but powerful, book is Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Written
A manager’s day is filled with negotiation. Defined by Wikipedia, negotiation is discussion leading to agreement. For example, questions such as when to schedule the staff meeting, who gets the office with windows, or how to allocate the budget, can all happen in a morning’s work, after which you negotiate where to go for lunch. As pervasive as is negotiation, the process gets more complicated, of course, when the discussion is filled with conflict and emotion, or when the stakes are high. It is all too easy to get bogged down in the conflict and stop negotiating, when negotiation is actually the way out. Hence, the value of this book.
The stated mission of The Harvard Negotiation Project, out of which
We have all experienced conflict in our organizations. Healthy and successful organizations integrate people and resources, with a diversity of skills, experience and backgrounds, into an effective system to achieve organizational goals. Organization growth, and the very diversity it requires often results in disagreement and conflict. When not dealt with effectively, conflict is prolonged, gets complicated, and results in negative outcomes.
The irony is that most organizations allow conflict to be prolonged! There are many ways to dismiss or muddle conflict.
Giving in completely to the other side’s wishes, or at least cooperating with little or no attention to your own interests.
Settling for an ‘agreement’ you are not entirely happy with, in which your losses are offset by some gains.
Smoothing over or avoid conflict situations altogether.
Trying to win the conflict at the other’s expense.
In my own experience as a
Reading this book had
The very practical steps described in Getting to YES embody ‘principled negotiation’ which is based on four propositions. While these principles may seem intuitive, it is easy for managers to focus otherwise:
Separate the people from the problem.
It is easy to confuse the substantive issues of a problem with the person with whom you are negotiating. It could be, for example, that seeing the individual as difficult or devious will cloud your understanding of the problem itself, which is separate from the person.
Focus on interests, not positions.
It is easy to get stuck
Invent options for mutual gain.
It is easy to end up in an either/or situation; that is, flexible hours or no flexible hours. Looking for additional options for mutual gain, such as job sharing in this example, may reveal possibilities that neither party had thought of before.
Insist on using objective criteria.
It is easy to consider the only resolution to negotiation as accepting one option or another based on what one feels able to accept. Using objective external standards such as employment law or human resource best practices, helps both parties identify criteria on which they agree a decision can be based.
In addition to guiding your way to resolve conflict, the Getting to YES approach to negotiation helps to surface pertinent information about the issue, often leading to better decisions. The book also has sections on situations where you feel the other side has more power or is not negotiating fairly. Then, finally, it deals with how to manage the times when agreement cannot be reached. The ‘best alternative to a negotiated agreement’, shortened to BATNA, is helpful to think about from the beginning of complex and important negotiations. Doing so will help to relieve the pressure of feeling you have to come to a deal.
So, relax during the holiday with a book that will provide supportive guidance in the New Year. It is one to have by your side for many years to come.
From books to movies: In case you have time to watch a movie over the holidays, the next blog post will talk about two movies with lessons for managers.