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What You'll Learn In Today's Episode

  • Getting people into an effective negotiator’s mindset can be challenging. In fact, there are multiple moving parts in play most of the time. Training sessions figure in, but they’re only part of the process.
  • For better ROI, consider the processes in place, the tools (like software), the skills and training of the people involved, the consistency between operations, and the systems in play (e.g. performance reviews and incentives).
  • Things to avoid include starting without an overall plan for your approach and allowing individuals to set unique measures of success. It’s a good idea to be intentional about reviews, too. All of these areas can be stumbling blocks.
  • Consider Bloom’s taxonomy when planning your coursework. The most effectively-trained negotiators will probably taught from the higher end. At the same time, try not to over complicate the learning process, either.

Executive Summary:

Welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast! In this episode, your NEGOTIATEx team discusses developing a negotiations culture where you work. Training sessions help, but if you want to reach the top tier, there’s more to the process.

Start With the Basics

It’s not always easy getting people into an effective negotiator’s mindset. In fact, there are multiple moving parts in play.

Look at the existing company culture. Consider the processes that are in place. What is the current corporate strategy?

Next, look at the tools, like software. Modern technology allows storing lots of helpful data for use in negotiations, perhaps like never before.

The skills and training of those involved factor in, as well. Likewise, assess the consistency between operations.

Do you find yourself herding cats? Do things happen with almost eerie precision? Fluctuation between these extremes is normal. Nevertheless, take honest notes.

Lastly, give your systems consideration. In other words, analyze how are performance reviews and incentives align to create desirable negotiation behaviors.

We’ll go further into how you as a leader can nurture a negotiations-friendly culture. However, we need to warn you about the pitfalls first.

Although changing the corporate culture can help, mistakes along the way can be disastrous. Therefore, let’s look at things you’re better off avoiding.

The Don’t List

  • Don’t lack a cohesive strategy. In other words, don’t start without an overall plan for your approach. Similarly, your objectives should link the corporate strategy with ongoing negotiations.
  • Avoid allowing individuals to set unique measures of success. All criteria should tie into your bigger-picture corporate goals. Think shared information across a space between the individuals conducting negotiations.
  • Make sure reviews aren’t done accidentally. Instead, be intentional and methodical. Note lessons learned, for everyone’s benefit.
  • Avoid do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do-ism. Model the behavior you, as a leader wish to see adopted. Put another way, you have to live it. Few people will take something seriously if you don’t.

In regard to the last one, Aram recommends reading Jeswald W. Salacuse’s Real Leaders Negotiate. Salacuse advocates empathetic leadership; listening closely, collaborating, and (sometimes) even making concessions.

A good leader doesn’t just know to negotiate effectively. If you’re not prepared to guide others to as well, consider stepping aside.

Best Practices

Lastly, before we wrap up, we have some negotiations training do-s. For instance, know your audience. Be aware of how adult learners receive information.

Next, create a space and environment for effective learning. Sometimes this simply means removing obvious distractions.

Consider Bloom’s taxonomy. What level of teaching or training are you trying to achieve? Be ready to tailor things as needed.

The most effectively-trained negotiators will probably be taught from the higher end. At the same time, avoid over complications where possible, too.

If you’re attempting to pioneer negotiations training in a more non sequitur environment, keep flexible. Above all, focus on your desired outcome.

Are you out to train full-fledged negotiators? Or, do you just need to educate people about the basics?

Consider how much you’ll actually need to keep people away from their desks, so to speak. For ideal ROI, aim for engaging people through activity as well as discussions.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose a program that addresses preconceptions. People won’t enter your negotiations training as blank slates. Be prepared to engage presumptions and misconceptions tactfully.
  • Pair training with long-term parameters. Implement expectations that will continue, far after completing the sessions. Instruction, by itself, is not enough. Plan to reinforce the lessons.
  • Subscribe to our LinkedIn page and (please) share this episode (full URL here). We’re out to elevate the influence of as many negotiators (and negotiators to-be) as possible.

Nolan and Aram share lots more on implementing negotiations training within your corporate culture in today’s NEGOTIATEx podcast. Questions and episode suggestions to team@negotiatex.com are always welcome. Don’t forget to drop by negotiatex.com for more information on today’s topic and our negotiation prep tool, either.

Your time’s important to us. Thanks for listening!




Nolan Martin : This is the NegotiateX Podcast, show number 17.

Aram Donigian : Okay, I would first start by saying, what is your desired outcome? Do you just want people to be familiar with indifferent negotiation practices that do, you know, so they can potentially make better decisions, because there's a huge gap between learning and being able to do. Then from there, as we measure what our success looks like and what our goal should be. How much time are we really willing to enable, to commit, to pull people from their nine-to-five responsibilities to invest in this? And then are we really, really into ourselves as you, as you were saying earlier, right? Role model these behaviors, we're willing to take this on and are willing to Institute, uh, kind of the more lasting cultural pieces that are gonna make this permanent. So, with that, then we can get them to start. You can start talking about ‘what's the design going to look like’?

You're listening to NegotiateX radio, helping you elevate your influence through purposeful negotiations. If you're here looking to learn about how to become a better negotiator in both business and life, then you're in the right place! Stay tuned and be sure to join the others who have benefited from negotiatex.com. Your home for negotiations training and consulting online.

NM : Hello, and welcome to the Negotiate X podcast. I am your co-host Nolan Martin. With me today is my good friend, Aram. Aram, how are you doing today, sir?

AD : Well, no, and I just spilled a cup of coffee all over my keyboard. So, um, appreciate your patience as we got this thing,

NM : I wasn't going to tell anyone. I was just going to keep that between us!

AD : Okay. I mean, it's good to know. It's like I tell my kids all the time, right? I mean, slow down, do things intentionally. And as I reached for my phone, I hit the cup of coffee all over my keyboard. Anyhow. So just dealing with that, I appreciate when I've been told in the past, you know, slow, smooth, smooth is fast.

NM : Absolutely. And when you start moving too quickly with things, then that's where you start making mistakes. Yeah,

NM : Absolutely.

AD : We’ll live, we’ll live...

NM : Well today is - I think - going to be a very valuable episode and we're going to talk about how to develop a negotiation culture in a corporation, in a business setting. And so, when we look at the best businesses, negotiations training, negotiations implementation is definitely tied into the culture. I mean, can you agree with that as a consultant who regularly consults with these bigger companies?

AD : Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that if you want to weave more effective negotiation approaches into the DNA of a company, it does sit a little bit with the training and the teaching, the education of your people, you know, as well as with a number of other cultural factors.

NM : Yeah. Well, today I wanted to kind of dive in and basically give some advice to leaders on how they can implement negotiations-training into their business. So I'll let you take the first swing at this one and where you want to start with it. Weaving Negotiation Approaches into Company’s DNA (03:21)

AD : If we start broadly. If you're going to invest both time and money, you know, all of those resources into building a solid culture around negotiation, you want to become a top tier negotiating firm, so to speak. So I think first you've got to look at - what's going on within the culture of the company. And so I would look at what are the processes you have in place that enhance negotiation as part of your corporate strategy. I would look at what are the tools, there's a lot of technological advances that we can use to store data, and then use that data to inform negotiations - these are certainly skills. We'll come back to that one, training that's involved. There's consistency between operations, what we do, and then how we integrate negotiation-problem-solving, both internally and externally to an organization. And then there's really systems, and that's an alignment of different processes, performance reviews, incentives to ensure that we are getting the desired negotiation behaviors. I always find it ironic when we tell folks to go out, be creative and look for different out of the box solutions. But at the end of the year, they're still going to be evaluated on a year-over-year price increase or decrease. And so we didn't really incentivize creative behavior. We incentivized a very positional approach.

NM : Yeah and I think to kind of start off and to start broad, maybe we say ‘what not to do’. Like, it doesn't matter the best resources, the best training out there. What should leaders not do in order to change this culture?

AD : Yeah, so I think, the lack of a cohesive strategy and linking of negotiation objectives, both to our corporate strategy and objectives, but also between different negotiations that are occurring. I would coach leaders of organizations not to do that. Individual negotiators shouldn't be setting separate measures of success. Those measures of success should be tied to bigger, broader corporate goals. We definitely don't want to create a vacuum of information. We need to create a space where information is shared between the various folks who are conducting negotiations. We want to ensure that preparation isn't done ‘a willy-nilly’, but actually there's a real intent behind how we negotiate. Then on the flip side, we've talked about the power review, same thing with review. It's not done accidentally, but there's a real intention behind how we approach review in the collection of lessons learned, as we improve. So those are some ‘don'ts’ followed by some ‘do’s’.

NM : I think for the leader, it's a ‘do as I do’ mentality, not a ‘do as I say’. But ‘don't do what I do’. So, I mean, you have to live it, you have to lead it. So, I would definitely say that for the leader, that you need to take responsibility, you need to ensure that, the different training objectives that you're doing, the processes you're putting in the preparation time, you're doing  an adequate AAR. I mean, these are all of the things that you need to do as a leader. And if you don't, then again, it doesn't matter how many resources you dump into trying and training your team. You're just never going to be successful.

AD : Yeah, there’s a great article called Leaders Negotiate. A professor at Harvard, Sally Hughes, who talks about ‘leaders negotiate all the time’. And I, I'm a believer that the best form of training or cultural influence that a leader can provide when it comes to negotiation is demonstrating the behaviors, his or herself. And so, they should practice in trust-based leadership, understanding people's motivations and concerns. They should negotiate the relationships around them internally and externally. ‘Relationships’ is an important thing. They need to find the right leadership voice for themselves, how to express that. Right? So as we think about voice - voice involves advocacy and being able to speak clearly, but also, you know, giving voice to others. And so, that's the inquiry piece getting to hear their voice. And if you're going to negotiate, you have to negotiate a vision for an organization and all those things, what's the direction we're going, right? So, all four of those things are around behavior. I am a believer and Nolan is what you just said, that leaders not only need to know how to negotiate effectively themselves. They should help guide others to negotiate more effectively, and a leader who can't do that should probably step aside.

NM : Yeah. And so now I want to take what you just said, and now let's actually start getting a little bit more prescriptive on how a leader can help implement a training culture into their company. Does that sound good?

AD : Yeah. No, that sounds great. Actions for leaders to implement a negotiations training culture (07:58)

NM : Okay. So what does a leader need to do then? They want to implement a training culture, what's effective? Kind of those different aspects.

AD : Yeah. So we'll dive right into the training. I just want to reemphasize the fact that all the training in the world is going to be pretty useless, If, when a participant in that training… a student in the teaching comes back to an organization and finds leaders demonstrating other behaviors, incentives not aligned with what I was just taught, practices not being changed. So, unless we've changed that landscape, we're really fooling ourselves to think that a day or two learning ‘how to negotiate more effectively’ is going to move the needle. So, just to make that point clear.

As we talk about what makes for an effective training program. For negotiation, there's some similarities, there's a number of things that are going to be the same as for any training program. We want to take great consideration to who the audience is, the way that adult learners learn and receive information, what are their expectations, you know, being able to scaffold to their own experiences and thinking right away, and then certainly creating the space and the environment for effective learning to approach.

AD : So those would be some initial basics, and I think that's across any discipline. Yeah. And then negotiation offers some other sorts of things that we want to consider too.

NM : Okay. Let's keep going! And this is good. Let's keep going.

AD : Yeah. So,  when I negotiate, there's a number of different - or sorry - when I train negotiation, one of the things is. I go back to the concept of Bloom's Taxonomy which is just a simple framework for thinking about what's the level of teaching or training that I'm trying to achieve. I'm just trying to get people to remember or understand basic knowledge, or am I trying to get people to apply, evaluate, even create new solutions? And I believe more effective negotiation training is that the higher level of Bloom’s where people are able to take complex situations that involve multiple stakeholders and think through critical problem sets in creative ways. So, to get there, we need to come up with different exercises to - both inside and outside of a person's context - introduce concepts, skills, tools, frameworks, and then to put those things into practice.

NM : Is it a different approach that you take when you're training a corporate client, vs when you're training your MBA students at Tuck? I mean, is there a significant difference?

AD : Well, I think so there is a difference and I've had an opportunity over the last 10 plus years now to teach and train a variety of different audiences. And so the audience is certainly somewhat different between Undergrads that I teach versus Masters students versus mid-career level, you know, corporate types, the audiences of themselves are different, right? And so demographics are different, their expertise, their attitude towards learning, their expectations for the training, you know, even language and culture can be different. So all those things are being taken into consideration. I think their expectations can be a little different in terms of, you know, where they're at in their learning process. So that should be considered as well. And then certainly design, right. I mean, when I teach a two day corporate program, well, what I can get to, and the power of bringing in things like, you know, reflection and, um, self cases and looking at real-world situations, that's a little different in a two day corporate program than when I do a nine week or 13 week, semester sort of long program and, and, and course, and so the design is different. So while concepts are very much the same, just as a factor of the delivery time, there's going to be some differences there too.

How Should One Get Started On The Right Path? [11:52]

NM : Okay. So then should the leader, or if they're going to kind of outline this, this training glide path, where do they start? What should they, you know... let's take a company that probably hasn't, uh, doesn't obviously have a very good negotiating culture where they're kind of stewards of the, I don't know if professional is the right word, but definitely the skill.

AD : Yeah.

NM : Where do they start if they don't already have this implemented?

AD : I would first start by saying, what, what is your desired outcome? Do you just want people to be familiar with indifferent negotiation practices that too, you know, so they can potentially make better decisions because there's a huge gap between learning and being able to do, you know. And then so from there, as we measure what our success looks like and what our goals should be, how much time are we really willing to enable, to commit to pulling people from their nine to five responsibilities to invest in this? And then are we really willing to ourselves as you, as you were saying earlier, right... role model these behaviors, we're willing to take this on and are willing to institute, kind of the more lasting cultural pieces that are gonna make this permanent. So with that, then we can get into, you know, start, you can start talking about what the design is going to look like?

NM : Yeah. I think, I mean, obviously everything's going to come down to ROI, but let's say I'm trying to be a little bit more prescriptive for our audience. So how would you design it safe if you don't necessarily want everyone to be experts, but you want everyone to be proficient enough to at least understand that they need to preparation, that they need to kind of have some sort of idea of where to guide the conversation and then be able to reflect on, on how they performed. So if someone were to add that as a training strategy or guide path for their company, how long does that take and, and kind of what are some of the highlights of, of something like that?

AD : Yeah. So, so again, it's, we build from a goal we build from time available. So if you know, if we have six hours, one day versus two or three days, it's going to vary a little bit, but it's a balance. I think there's a balance between what are the skills we're trying to identify? So you talked about preparation, that's an important one. I would add in there, awareness around assumptions. We make every day to negotiate effectively. That's another skill. Another one is understanding the choices that I can make at the table as I lead in a negotiation, or as I respond to tactics and techniques being used by the other side, that's another one. Multi-party dynamics and what are the... managing multiple stakeholders, you know, how do I, how do I navigate that? So there's skills throughout all those things.

And you don't want a program simply to be a delivery of, of a lecture, right? I mean, it should be engaging and, and adult learning demands, experiencing and engaging with material. And so, as you introduce, in fact, I think the best programs are those that introduce concepts in the debrief and activity. So you do something partly because people learn... most people learn very well through doing things, as well as hearing and seeing. And so can we design it in a way there's an exercise and then in the debrief, there's that aha moment, which is,”Ah, that's the concept.” And then we drill down and it's constantly going micro on skills and then backing up to macro and understanding the bigger picture and how these link, how these link to what I'm doing in the business place, and then drilling back down to micro. And so there's a number of moving pieces there as we design these things.

Building And Reinforcing The Right Foundation In A Negotiation Course. [15:27]

NM : Yeah.If I were to think about the design, I'd want to try cover this at least monthly, right? If I was a leader, I'd definitely try and set aside the time, figure out how much time you can afford, but it's something that definitely needs to occur at least monthly, because I know even since I last took the course to when we decided to launch NEGOTIATEx, I had lost a lot of the knowledge that I had gained in the course. So definitely think that it is something that you want to do periodically and refresh. So after you build that base, then I feel like, you're going to be in a better position. For instance, like our program, you started the west point negotiations project. And I think one of the greatest courses was that three day or two day seminar course that we did that literally walked cadets through the entire process. You didn't even have to know negotiations, know anything about negotiations to be successful in that course, by the time that you left. So I feel like that was enough to establish the foundation. So that was probably about, you know, 15, 10 to 15 hours, I'd say, establishing the foundation and then making sure that you continue to build on that on a periodic basis. So if you were a manager trying to think about a program, I would say that 10 to 15 hours is what you would need to invest upfront and then figure out a way that you can continue to build at least on a monthly basis to ensure that your employees are retaining those skills. How's that sound?

AD : Oh, I agree. And my experience tells me that the retention and application of students that I engage with over 13 weeks in the semester, when we continue to come back and reinforce concepts, and they're reflecting about these things, and I'm asking them to do work inside their own personal context or professional context and apply some of the tools there. And that's where I see the greatest shift in behaviors and in the application of the tools and where I see them identify for themselves, because I do journals and reflections, which I think is an important part of any sort of training. I see them identifying that they are now asking themselves and they're thinking of questions and different ways to measure success that they didn't consider two months prior. So I would say reinforcement is really important.

NM : Now let’s talk about the tools that the leader has to be able to implement this training, or at least to, to be able to assist his employees or her employees with, with running the company and, and implementing new negotiation strategies. Does that sound good?

AD : Good. And to answer your question, I mean, so we teach a variety of things, right? We talk about prep. We talked about choice and conduct at the table. We talked about managing relationships. We talked about dealing with a hard bargainer. We talk about, you know, being able to manage multi-party dynamics. We talked about building strategies. These are all things that we can build into a program. These are all things that I would expect a leader who has trained on negotiation to have some awareness about. So those would be, those would be the, the, what, the, how we get to those things and how we get people within their organizations trained on this is we're going to take some things outside their context. We're going to do some quick exercises. We're going to do some scripted exercises with roles, and we're going to take them outside of their context, very intentionally.

So they're not focused on, well, this is how I always solve this problem, but we're, we're focused on just the basic blocking and tackling as we've introduced some of those, those new concepts. And then the where, where I think a lot where the rubber meets the road. And there's a lot of value is our ability to shift and bring it into their context, into situations that they are familiar with. And as we work with clients to do this sort of work, that's where a lot of the prep work takes, takes on the need for phone calls and understanding not just the nature of their business, but, but the challenges they are uniquely facing so that we can craft both long and short scenarios. And in case studies to be able to role-play engage with, and the, the intention there is to be able to walk away and say, oh, there are some different ways that I can approach this and get fundamentally different solutions as I apply these tools.

Action Items For Budding Negotiators [19:51]

NM : I think that's key. The key is just having the tools to be successful. And I know we talked about this throughout most of the episodes, but the most important tool to ensure that you have a copy of, and each of the employees you are training has a copy is the Seven Elements Of Prep. And you can find that at negotiatex.com/prep for that tool. Instrumental preparation is key to being successful. So, all right, let's start to kind of wrap this up. So is there anything else you want to cover on the topic here today Aram?

AD : I know you always say that we're a podcast which is about action and learning. So if I were to say, what are some actions that we want to recommend? So what are key takeaways? One is that in any sort of situation, when you're teaching negotiation, participants are not a clean slate, they come in with strong biases. And so as you choose a program, you've got to find the program that’s going to address the assumptions people are making and engage with them with that experience. Right? So I often say I don't teach rocket science, but what I do teach is organized common sense, which, which sometimes doesn't seem so, so common. And so we want to do that and I really appreciate, and you can say this too Nolan; We really appreciate our, our colleagues at Vantage Partners who over the past 30 years have done such a great job of really making honing this is a skill that can be taught, where we can see a return on the investment from being able to negotiate more effectively. And so, as I would encourage anyone listening to say, as you look at different places where you can go for teaching and training, be, you know, really do the due diligence and make sure that you're pulling in folks who can, who can not just teach this well,  but where you're going to see the impact, the shift and the change in behaviors. And then the last thing I'd probably just say, and I've hit on this a couple of times is: training alone is not enough. There needs to be parameters around that training so that you can reinforce it and see the benefits of long-term within your organization.

NM : Yeah. I think those are all excellent takeaways. And if you are a leader in a business and you need any help with the negotiations process, as Aaron was alluding to, we do offer some different training packages. Our most preferred training package and what we believe most of our clients get the most value from is the ongoing monthly training-coaching session. And that's where we're actually able to plug in and identify, you know, how do we keep moving the needle? How do we keep getting better? How do we keep improving the organization? Because it is really a “we” concept cause we want to see you succeed and all of your negotiation endeavors. So with that, that is the end of today's episode. I appreciate you tuning in. If you have any kind of questions or anything that you want us to cover in future episodes, you can do so at team@negotiatex.com. And we'll see you in the next episode.

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