Winning the Battle and the War – Negotiation Success

Everyday we enter into a variety of negotiations with prospective employees, current employees, and vendors. Though the situations are different, there are some basic guidelines that will ensure negotiation success.

It is important to remember that the most successful negotiations are entered into and conducted with good faith. This does not necessarily mean giving into every demand or sacrificing your position, but it does mean going into negotiation sessions with the intention of listening, compromising when necessary, and with the spirit of fairness. One good way to establish good faith is to make an initial offering that affirms your willingness to meet your opposition half way. With a vendor it may be a flexible delivery schedule or with a prospective employee with a benefit offer. Choose something with which you have some flexibility and concession will not adversely affect your company’s position.

Remember, prior to entering into negotiations, do your research. See what other businesses are doing, talk to associates, and use your networking contacts to see what other companies are offering. Check what the market is for goods and services, salaries, and benefits. Failure to know what other employers and businesses are offering can cost you money or failure to secure contracts. The internet is a valuable resource, as well as trade association publications, and your contacts in your industry. What are other companies paying for goods, offering in vacation time, and bidding for contracts? You won’t know where to start or what compromises you can make if you don’t know what others are doing. Conducting negotiations with out research is like going in blind.

Success in negotiations starts with good listening skills. Watch your adversary’s body language and behavior closely and gauge their intensity and stress to determine their priorities. Parties to discussion frequently give clues to points that are negotiable and those that are “deal breakers.” Don’t get caught up in the emotions and stress of discussions and lose sight of your opponent’s position. Listen and communicate carefully and without excessive emotion. We have all seen examples of high stakes negotiations where voices are raised, fists are slammed on tables, and the parties stalk out of the room. Sometimes these shows of power make a big impression but deals are settled after the storm passes. Quiet confidence can make as big an impression as raised voices.

Much of your confidence can come from having realistic expectations. Your research will tell you what you can reasonably expect from your challenger. Also, knowing your own budget and company’s needs will tell you what you can live with. Expecting an unrealistic outcome can cause you to loose the war and the battle. As in any battle (and negotiations can be looked upon as battles) is to know the lay of the land. Where are your strengths, where are obstacles to success, and what is your objective? How do you define success? If you are in a contract negotiation with a prospective employee can you offer tuition reimbursement instead of a higher salary? In a negotiation with a vendor can you allow an extra week in delivery in favor of better credit terms? Negotiations are a dance and the way you follow and compensate for your partner’s moves can pay off and make the dance much more pleasant.

Documentation is an important part of the negotiation process. Document your research results and bring them with you to any discussions. Don’t rely on your memory and if at any point you need to do further research, close the session and make arrangements to resume after you have had a chance to check out any points. Take careful notes and with meetings where the stakes are high, audio or video recording can be helpful. For instance, if you are negotiating with a union or collective bargaining unit, an audio or video record can protect you in potential litigation. In normal day to day negotiations careful note taking should suffice. Your notes should be maintained in confidential files. It goes without saying that all final settlements should be in writing and reviewed thoroughly before signing.

The watch word for negotiation success is caution. The commitments you make will have far reaching consequences for your business and taking your time and being cautious will ensure that the obligations and benefits you are negotiating for will be the ones that will enrich your company.

Read This Or One Day The MD’s Presentation Could Flop Because Of You!

Musa’s gets an email Monday morning from Sarah – MD’s Personal Assistant. It’s about the much expected presentation on a new company strategy which the MD is scheduled to deliver next Monday. Sarah’s email ends with the words: “I am confident you will ensure this very important presentation goes without a hitch. Thanks in advance“.

Musa Dele Anicho is Training Manager in the eastern branch of a large corporate multinational. Apart from providing needs-based training for the site staff/managers, his job involves coordinating briefings/presentations etc that have a way of occurring at short notice – with the key actor often being a top man, for example in this case, Mr. Samuel Okocha, the Managing Director.

Musa grimaces as he reads the last line of Sarah’s email but seeing in it a tacit “warning” immediately sets out to make all necessary arrangements. It is the first time since becoming Training Manager that he would be personally responsible for preparations towards the MD’s presentation.

By the end of the week his boss had contacted him more than 10 times about preparations and each time Musa had told him all was set. Indeed, “as far as he could see” everything was set.

a. He had copied the PowerPoint Presentation to the Toshiba Satellite laptop supplied by the IT department and test run it over and over again – with speakers/projector.

b. He had double-checked the lighting in the Training room to be used and ensured the seating arrangement would not prevent people seeing the projector screen.

c. Refreshments had been booked and all other routine arrangements made. All was set!

BUT why then – after all this work by Musa, did the following unfortunate event have to occur? And how did Musa via quick thinking eventually save the day – and himself?

It’s 10.00 am Monday morning and Mr. Okocha(the MD) is on the 3rd slide of his presentation with all staff and Managers in the eastern branch listening with rapt attention to the high profile presentation with serious expressions on their faces.

The MD just finished giving an overview of the new strategy and then says “Let me now move to the most important part of my presentation which is: The breakdown of our new Corporate Strategy including the Action Plan for its implementation”.

He clicks on the mouse but nothing happens(Musa’s heart misses a beat). The MD clicks again, this time twice, thrice..yet still nothing happens – A frown now appears on his forehead(Musa on his part is already beginning to sweat even though the room is fully airconditioned).

The MD grunts a bit inaudibly saying “Sorry I think there’s a problem” and looks around as if asking for some help. Musa’s boss, Mr. Lateef scowls deeply at Musa and motions with his eyes for him to do something!

Musa gets up, his mind racing, and walks with shaky legs towards the MD, who with characteristic calmness at this point casually carries on with his presentation using the printed paper version he had brought with him as a reference
(Lesson: Anytime you have to give a PC presentation, endeavour to carry a printed copy (printed version) with you as a backup. Technology is reliable but not error-free: Anything can happen, so be prepared!)

He realises he must find a very quick solution that will enable the MD deliver this important information to the large audience in a way that ensures they all get a sound understanding of the subject. He forces himself to calm down and think (even as one teasing voice tells him “There goes your career down the drain -all that hard work from all those years gone!”).

Musa suddenly remembers that while preparing for the MD’s presentation, he had taken pains to save a backup copy of the PowerPoint Presentation on his PC desktop in his office. An idea occurs to him, and he bolts from the hall and up to his office in the Training block in seconds.

He tries to copy the file to a 1.44MB floppy disk, but gets an error message: “not enough disk space!” The file is 1.65MB! He curses under his breadth, checks his watch: now almost 2 minutes since the MD stopped using the PC.

Some more thinking leads him to recall that right-clicking on a file in Windows XP and highlighting the “Send To” shortcut menu item brings up a short cut menu item called “Compressed(zipped) folder”. This useful feature is an alternative for when one does not have utilities like Winzip, Winrar or other file compression software on their PCs. Typically compression of up to 40% is achievable with this Windows XP version(Why not try using it now and see what you get?).

He right clicks the Power Point file, and applies the command. The resulting compressed .zip file easily copies to the floppy. He sprints out of his office and back into the hall where everyone turns to look at him as re-enters. He avoids his boss’ glare and walks to the Laptop, heart pounding, barely hearing the MD’s voice.

With the PC projector lights still switched off, he copies the zipped file to the desktop and right clicks on it.

a. He then clicks on the “Extract All..” shortcut menu item to bring up a “Compressed (Zipped) files extraction Wizard” welcome screen.

b. He clicks “Next” twice and watches as the wizard copies a folder containing the powerpoint file to the desktop.

c. He clicks “finish” and the folder (by default setting) automatically opens to reveal the uncompressed PowerPoint Presentation.

He quickly launches the presentation and clicks through slides 1 to 3, then holding his breath clicks to continue. There is a short delay, then the 4th slide appears! He clicks again, and the 5th appears, till all 10 slides are complete.

Musa looks up at his boss whose piercing gaze he has felt on him all the while and nods to indicate all is well. He puts on the Projector lights to reveal the 4th slide at which the MD turns and says “Ah, looks like we can continue!”. The presentation continues smoothly to the end. Musa looks at his watch: It had taken 3 minutes!

After the presentation, some of Musa’s colleagues asked him what happened. He had no answer for them as he had checked the bad copy again and again and could simply not explain what had caused it to go bad or “corrupt” at the transition to slide 3. It could have been the power glitch during the test run he did – but he could not be certain.

He did tell them two things however:

a. First was that keeping a back up copy of the file on his PC(and close to the presentation venue) made it possible for him to replace the bad one – in time.

b. Secondly, knowing about the Windows XP file compression utility enabled him get around the twin problems of the file being too large to fit on a disk + his not having WinZip installed on his PC.

One could argue that he could have used a Flash pen, but what if he did not own one, or could not find anyone who did or even worse(and quite possible), what if the flash pen went bad or missing at that point when he needed it? Things like this have a way of happening, so one is better off considering all possibilites and preparing for them.

The most important message here is that you need to take time to acquire new/relevant knowledge and skills to enable you become more productive and efficient on your job. The little things you can learn about technology available in your office to get more done in less time, will set you apart from the crowd and make you look good more often. The quote below, in our opinion summarises it well:

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write. They will be those who cannot learn, un-learn and re-learn” – Alain Tofle

Hotel Bed Presentations – Advice on How to Achieve the Best

One of the wonderful things about staying in a nice hotel room is the quality of the linen and the bed making. Hotel visitors simply don’t apply the finer points of bed making at home, and so appreciate the skill of the professional that creates a cosy feel that shouts comfort.

Bed presentation is like any sort of presentation, as much as it’s about the practical considerations, the way the bed looks also has a significant part to play and can really add to the allure and comfort of a freshly turned hotel room.

Five Star Hotel:

There are a number of elements required when creating the professional feel of great five star hotel beds and cleanliness is always the first one. Clean laundered sheets are pivotal in the making of such a top quality bed.

The bottom sheet needs to be placed on the bed and pulled tight to the corners of the bed. This creates the base of the perfect bed and should be followed up with the top sheet. This can be added from the footboard and made to billow evenly over the bed edges. At the head of the bed lift the end of the sheet placing the hem along the headboard. Then pull the sheet at the bottom of the bed until it is flat and even on the bed.

This can then be done with the blanket, though in this case leave the blanket about two hands away from the headboard and fold the top sheet over it. This has the dual benefit of protecting the sleepers face and also preventing body oils getting on the blanket.

Hospital Corners:

These give the bed that professional look and are easier to achieve than you might think. To create hospital corners place the sheet and blanket underneath the foot of the mattress. When this is finished you will see that the left over fabric at the sides has made a U-turn back along the length of the bed. Place this between your fingers and pull it towards the headboard and then place the hanging corners of the sheet and blanket under the mattress. This should mean the left over fabric will fall over the tucked area.

Finishing touches:

Nobody wants oils on their pillows and this can be avoided through placing the pillows on the bed and rocking the case on with both hands. Vertically shake them until they are covered by the case and then fold the excess fabric inside to create a smooth pocket. This ensures the pillow looks tidy.

The bedspread is also very important and you must keep the sides of it even. You will also find that you have surplus at the headboard – this should be folded back and left a little short of the top sheet. Place the pillows on the fold of the sheets and place the rest of the bedspread over the tops of them. This will limit the amount of dust on the pillows.

Finally, add some towels, cushions and mints to create the authentic hotel feel.