Archive for the ‘Working Well with Others’ Category
Every successful organization has at least one linchpin; some have dozens or even thousands. The linchpin is the essential element, the person who holds part of the organization together. Without the linchpin, the thing falls apart.
– by Seth Godin in Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (2010)
Two American icons have been getting a bit of attention from the media lately: NASA’s space shuttle program, and Oprah Winfrey.
In NASA’s case, the agency is in its final countdown as it brings the current space shuttle program to an end. Manned space flight has been a reality for America since 1969; it has become a part of our lives in some way, even if it is just to pause and watch the takeoffs and landings with awe and appreciation. A fleet of space shuttles has served the program since 1981, with each one serving as an important component in its own right. If Space Shuttle Endeavour lands on time this week, for example, it will have spent 299 days in space and traveled more than 122.8 million miles during its 25 flights. It launched on its first mission on May 7, 1992. (Source: www.nasa.gov)
In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend (see clip and article here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/29/sunday/main20067174.shtml?tag=contentBody;featuredPost-PE), NASA Administrator Charles Bolden became emotional as he talked about the legacy of the space shuttle program and the important groundwork it has laid for future space exploration and discovery. Orion, the next spacecraft that NASA plans to use for additional exploration, has benefited from past explorations as well; it will have twice the capacity of the Apollo spacecraft that carried men to the moon in the 1960’s. Each decade of effort has built upon the last so NASA can continue to learn from its discoveries and carry out its mission effectively. From the standpoint of talent, the men and women who have worked on each element of the space program are clearly indispensable in their own way. The application of their knowledge and skills has had to evolve continuously in order to keep up with technological advances and stay aligned with NASA’s mission. There can be little doubt that NASA has several “linchpins” in its midst.
In Oprah’s case, she has been a fixture on daytime television for 25 years. In addition to her efforts to provide practical information for people to use in their daily lives, she has served as a one-woman wave of philanthropy for decades. Schools and scholarships are just two of the things she has supported through her commitment of personal wealth and time. Many people who have been featured in recent television interviews about her show have made a similar comment: “What will I watch at 4pm now, without Oprah? There’s nothing like her!” I suspect that as much as people will miss her show – and I am one of those people – the loss they are feeling goes to something beyond simple entertainment. Oprah has been seen as a linchpin by millions of individuals and on some level, a society, in terms of the differences she has made through her show.
I am predicting that somewhere, on some level, you play the role of a linchpin in your life too. You may or may not be an engineer who designs space shuttles; you may not be the CEO of a media organization that beams its way into millions of homes each day. But if you are playing a role in an organization you have an opportunity to be indispensable to the mission of that organization, no matter how far from the mission you may think you are. Here are some tips you can use to become a linchpin, too.
- What is one thing that only you can do in service to your organization’s mission? Think about this not just from your task list, but from the standpoint of your unique combination of knowledge, skills, experience and perspective. You may be uniquely qualified to solve a problem or advance a goal that will have an impact on your team, your department, your division, or the organization overall. Once you have identified at least one thing you are uniquely qualified to contribute to, look at your current job. Are you spending some percentage of time on that one thing? If not, why not? What will it take to make a shift so that you are dedicating some time to it?
- Make it a habit, not just a goal, to collaborate with others and exchange knowledge. It is easy to become so focused on your own task list that you lose sight of your organization’s broader needs. Something that you are working on could be the perfect complement to what a colleague has been staying up all night to figure out. Don’t go overboard with shameless self-promotion, but look for opportunities at the water cooler or the staff meeting to create connections and offer your insights. You may be surprised at how quickly this can become a lot like the game, Six Degrees of Separation.
- Carry a spirit of generosity into your work without undue worry that you will be taken advantage of. By “generosity,” do I mean you should give all of your knowledge and effort away without care for any credit or return? No…but that’s close. Many performance management systems reward us for results and sometimes, for innovation. I absolutely believe it is important to be rewarded and recognized, as appropriate, for what you bring to the table. I also believe you become indispensable not just for producing results, but for producing the type of environment where others are inspired to produce results, too. The efforts you make to create space for other people’s ideas, and the intentional way you support and encourage other people’s success, will add to your own.
These are just a few talent management strategies that I have used, and that I’ve coached clients to use, in an effort to become indispensable. What has worked for you? Write and tell me about your successes!
There’s an old saying that essentially warns us not to make assumptions because it can make us look foolish. Looking foolish is one of the many risks that come with making assumptions, but it isn’t the only one. Let’s step out of the routine office workplace for a moment and look at an extreme example of what can happen when you work from your own assumptions.
Imagine you are in a crowded, busy emergency room at a hospital, looking for a doctor or nurse. You are pacing nervously in the hallway, holding a blood-soaked washcloth in one hand. A nurse approaches you, sees the washcloth, and gives you a tetanus shot before you can explain or protest. As the nurse takes the washcloth from you and starts to examine your hand, it becomes clear that you don’t have an injury. You then explain that your son or daughter is the one with the injury, and they had just stepped away to the rest room when the nurse whisked you away for treatment. Meanwhile, the person who really needed treatment is now sitting out in the waiting room.
What assumption was the nurse holding? Among other assumptions, that you were injured and needed immediate treatment, a noble job that is his or hers to perform.
What assumption were you holding? Most likely, that you would have a chance to explain your situation before anyone proceeded with any treatment.
This example may seem like an exaggeration, particularly given the intentional approach that today’s healthcare workers strive to use when assessing patients. That isn’t my reason for selecting it. My point is that communication is required in almost every workplace; it is rare for your work to be so isolated that it doesn’t touch at least one other person. Given that, there are a few things you can do in the spirit of collaboration to help surface your assumptions and ensure you are aligned with others who will be impacted by your actions.
First, if you are a member of a team – especially if you or anyone else is new to the team – ask for time at the start of a project to talk about the team’s typical way of operating. If you hear anything that differs from your typical way of operating (your assumptions), bring it up. Ask if any of your ways of operating will be in conflict with the team’s norms.
Second, sometimes the words people use sound straightforward, but they hold different meaning to different people. Check in with colleagues from time to time to ensure that you are all talking about the same things and working toward the same outcomes. For example, let’s say your team has been tasked with creating an important report that senior management will use to make some big decisions. As the team starts gathering data for the report and assignments are being given, you might ask the team leader, “Louise, when you said the other day that a draft report will meet the initial deliverable for now, what does that draft need to contain? How much detail is important to include at this draft stage as opposed to later in the process?” Getting clarity about the expected level of detail up front can ensure that you don’t spend more or less time than required for success on the team’s overall deliverable.
In everyday workplace situations, if you work only from your assumptions it can result in lost productivity, bruised relationships, and general inefficiency. Don’t be the nurse who gives shots first and diagnoses the situation later. Surface your assumptions up front and invite others to do the same. You may learn a lot about how you are operating and what else you can do to work more effectively with others. This process may not save your life, but it may at least save time, effort and productivity that is best directed toward other work.
New York restaurateur Danny Meyer defines a “51 percenter” as an employee who brings job skills that are 51 percent emotional and 49 percent technical. Having worked in the hotel industry for 10 years, I share Mr. Meyer’s contention that the art of delivering true hospitality often comes from your heart more so than from your head.
Meyer goes on to say that service is about meeting the technical expectation, while the “hospitality quotient,” as he calls it, surpasses mere technical requirements to the ability to demonstrate a sense of being on the customer’s side. This is something I look for when hiring for customer-focused roles too. In my own case, when I seek to delight customers by anticipating and meeting needs they didn’t even realize they had, I get as much joy from that process as they do in the outcome, if not more so. Meyer calls this the “jazz level,” or the extent to which those 51 percenters are “jazzed” by coming to work in an environment that calls for them to deliver outstanding hospitality each day. Rain or shine, pleasant customers or surly, Meyer’s definition of a hospitality orientation is a core behavioral requirement for everyone he hires to work in one of his 12 restaurants. No jazz…no job.
Now, here are my three questions for you:
How would you define the hospitality quotient in your office?
Do you consider yourself a 51 percenter?
If not, what would it be like for you and your customers if you showed up this way, starting today?
You don’t have to work in a restaurant or hotel to bring the art of hospitality to your workplace. You don’t even have to work directly with external customers who pay you or your organization a fee. Most of us have at least one internal customer in another department that we have to serve at some point in our careers. Being a 51 percenter does require that you operate from a point of view that puts you firmly on the same team as your customers, however. Customers know better when this isn’t the case. One trip to the Returns and Exchanges counter at your typical department store will show you the difference.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or time to bring a higher hospitality quotient to your office, either. The next time you are working on a customer request, challenge yourself to think three steps ahead of your customer. What else is possible beyond the initial inquiry or request they have made? What else can you do or say to demonstrate that you have their best interests at heart? Try it out, and tell me about your success!
For more about Danny Meyer and his philosophy about the art of hospitality, check out Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business (2006, Harper Collins).
Los Angeles is a long way from Venezuela. But somehow, Gustavo Dudamel never looks more at home than when he is on the platform as the new conductor of the LA Philharmonic. Dudamel is currently one of the most sought-after conductors in the world. Have I mentioned that he is 29 years old?
The Millennial Generation, or Gen Y as it is often called, is generally defined as those who were born between 1978 and 1996. They comprise more than 25% of the U.S. population. And in addition to being amongst the youngest in their workplaces, they are frequently the colleagues who are expressing strong views about the importance of brainstorming, their ability to generate creative solutions, and their interest in making a significant mark on the world. This is a generation who holds themselves and their organizations to a high standard.
Whether you are a leader of a team with a diverse age range or a team member who wants to learn more about what drives your colleagues, learning to work together effectively is about more than workplace satisfaction; it is about business growth and sustainability too, as more members of the Baby Boomer generation prepare to retire. Millennials and their slightly older colleagues from Generation X (born between 1965 and 1977) represent the blend of ages that will exist on the senior leadership teams of tomorrow. There are two new books on the shelves that I’ve found interesting on this topic. The first is What’s Next, Gen X? by Tamara Erickson. The second is Managing the Millennials by Espinoza, Ukleja and Rusch. Both books include helpful research and practical tips to foster greater understanding and synergy between members of the multiple generations that are in today’s workplace.
Dudamel’s list of expectations and accomplishments grows by the day, by the way, as does his trademark curly hair, which he is known to toss about passionately while conducting. An accomplished violinist, Dudamel is the former Music Director of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and an important factor behind YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), which makes it possible for low-income children throughout Los Angeles to participate in a first-rate musical education program. Dudamel credits his early days in a similar program, El Sistema, as the place that first nurtured his talent and his passion for music. His experience at El Sistema also inspired him to make a similar difference for children around the world through programs like YOLA. High expectations? Yes. But to a Millennial, big dreams and bold actions are an everyday expectation. If your organization hasn’t found a way to leverage this energy yet, now is a great time to start!
P.S. To watch Dudamel in action with the kids from YOLA, click here: http://www.laphil.com/gustavo/about.html
The field of leadership has invested in services and skill building areas such as mentoring, coaching, team building, role modelling, and didactic exercises to enable people to repeat and paraphrase conversations in order to replicate significant information or actions in the hopes of understanding others. The business world uses these various services and skill sets to further enhance skill development, relationship building, doing things the “right” way, and being effective communicators. This entire suite of services and training rely on the support of the brain’s mirror neuron system in order to work effectively.
Mirror neurons are important for understanding the actions of other people, and for learning new skills by imitation. Recent research published in Spring 2010, confirmed the presence of mirror neurons in the human brain.
The brain’s mirror neuron system plays a critical role for effective leadership as it provides people with the blueprint to follow desired norms or preferred behavior within their organizations. The body language, the method of speaking, the norms on dress and time management, the implied expectation to work 10 or 12 hours a day all fall under “follow the leader” in modeling key norms for an organization. Key norms are further observed and demonstrated through the healthy activity of the brain’s mirror neuron systems in people throughout the organization.
Whenever there is power in the room in the form of leadership at any level, people pay attention. Every action and behavior is noticed and assessed. It is then replicated, because the “leader” did it, it must be okay! Cultural norms are demonstrated and mimicked to set direction in organizations. The mirror neuron systems in the people that make up an organization serve to propagate observed behavior.
When leaders communicate, there may be a specific style they use in one-on-one dialogue or when addressing an all-hands meeting to share information. What people throughout the organization notice is whether or not the leader is a great speaker and demonstrates phenomenal skills in articulating the direction of the business. The very act of observing the speaker helps the audience capture the actions in the mirror neuron system. Then they associate the message with the behaviors demonstrated while standing in front of the group. As other leaders who’ve observed the speaker move to the front of the room located in other areas of the business, their mirror neuron systems replicate the demonstrated and desired skills seen from the original speaker. This will spread throughout the organization like a ripple in a pond. Mimicking the observed behavior in lower level staff meetings may strengthen communication skills.
You can take that scenario and apply it to facilitating an important stakeholder meeting or delivering a performance appraisal. Any professional skills that leaders use as part of doing the work or working on the business, are subject to activating the mirror neuron system and influencing the business. Leaders have to be accountable for their actions, as they will influence anyone and everyone by their highly visible actions.
Leadership modeling exemplary behavior in the organization, or on the flip side, unethical behavior will set a standard for which the mirror neurons will follow. Poor behavior is often tagged with the phrase, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, really isn’t true! What happens in Vegas will be replicated in the brain’s mirror neuron system by everyone who observed it and or participated in it! In the same vein, what happens in the conference room, good or bad, doesn’t only stay in the conference room! The mirror neuron system replicators are watching! Therefore, the behavior will show up somewhere in the organization, somehow when you least expect it!
As a leadership consultant, executive coach, and trainer, I am constantly engaging in learning from situations that arise day-to-day, personally and professionally. I self-reflect and notice things about how I show up and how that impacts a situation. I was traveling to a client location and was unfamiliar with the train station and where I needed to go to catch my train. We’ll come back to this in a minute…
Flash back to sitting at home watching a talk show a few days earlier. The guest, Jerry Seinfeld and the host of his program, Marriage Ref were promoting their show. As comedians, they’re always ready with material that will garner laughter, so they generally have something humorous to offer the audience. What they were talking about was less humorous and more accurate in terms of people practicing courtesy when they interact with others.
As celebrities, they are often bombarded with autograph seekers and people wanting their photographs. “Look, I’m standing with Jerry Seinfeld!” Their status goes up and they have an interesting story to tell people the rest of their lives about how they “know” Jerry Seinfeld! These ordinary people tend to trespass on the celebrities’ personal space and invite themselves into conversations or impede the celebrity from walking any further as they shout out to sign an autograph. Jerry Seinfeld talked about his rules for signing autographs or posing with a fan for a photo. He said, “I will not sign an autograph or pose for a photo if the person does not ask me properly or say excuse me. Where has courtesy gone?” Of course his comedic delivery manifested laughter from the audience.
When people do offer the simple courtesy to ask permission, regardless of their position or status in society, they are sending a message. They are telling you that they will be extending civility, respect, validation that the person you want to interact with is important, and therefore, you SEE them and honor their contributions’ to meet a need you have.
Back to the train station – I was confused about where I needed to be. I had four pieces of luggage and was having a rough time of it. I couldn’t make sense of the signs and was seeking help. I saw a couple of older gentlemen standing near some gates for trains. They were Red Caps, and worked at the station. I approached them struggling with my luggage (most of it was material that couldn’t be shipped in time to meet the client’s delivery timeline for an unusual location. That’s another blog in the making!). I said, “Excuse me, could you wise men help me? I am not sure where to go and would really appreciate the benefit of your wisdom to point me in the right direction.” Do you know how they responded? “Well, you’ve said all of the right things! (with a smile), We’d be happy to help you. Here, let me give you a hand.”
They relieved me of my struggles with the bags, walked me over to a red cap that could take care of my bags, and then pointed me in the direction of my gate. They asked me if I needed any other help and then wished me happy travels. I felt like I was well taken care of and had peace of mind that I would make my train with a sense of certainty that my travels would improve and the challenge I was having with my luggage was solved.
The Red Caps could have pointed to the gate and left me with my bags to continue on my own power, struggling the whole time. I had already dropped two bags three times from the parking garage to the gate area. They could have continued their conversation and easily ignored me…but they didn’t. It is all about connecting with people.
The point of demonstrating courtesy and connecting with people as a leader is to know that no matter your position, status, or power…courtesy and valuing people creates a relationship that builds followership, loyalty and credibility. People will move in your direction if they feel a sense of reward in working with you. The reward here is being seen and validated for your contributions. When was the last time you truly took the time to acknowledge a staff member and offer the courtesy they deserve?
The amygdala is often thought of as the emotional center of our brains but is actually made up of several regions in the brain – the amygdala (regulates emotion), hippocampus (is important for attaching emotional significance to experiences), hypothalamus (regulates biological needs such as regulating body temperature, breathing, sex and other bodily functions), and the frontal cortex (responsible for thinking, making judgments, planning, decision-making and conscious emotion). It takes in environmental stimuli and assesses whether it is a threat or reward.
The limbic system is basically an emotional thermometer that is highly sensitive to threat and reward in our environment. It is triggered very quickly when danger is present and warns us to ensure our survival. When over aroused we act first then think later. The fight or flight reaction is an essential function of the limbic system and is quick to respond to threat with the onset of fear. No matter how small the threat, fear will spark arousal in the limbic system in milliseconds. Cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones are secreted into the blood stream and begin accumulating in the amygdala. Too much of these stress hormones in the system can initiate an uncontrollable hijack of the amygdala and will drive us to demonstrate uncontrollable behaviours with complete lack of intellectual reasoning or rational thinking to handle the situation. An amygdala hijack demonstrated in the work place very often leads to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Therefore it is important to understand what influences our limbic system and how we can control it.
A sad yet common occurrence is when people are constantly exposed to stress and threat in the workplace. The accumulation of stress hormones caused by emotionally challenging tasks and fear based experiences will drive people to the edge until they reach a point of saturation, the point of no return and can explode with rage and do something that sabotages their work, career, or others health and safety. Our impulse control is regulated and controlled by a refreshed, rested, and fully functioning prefrontal cortex. If we constantly saturate the prefrontal cortex by overloading it with information, demanding constant complex decisions that fatigue the most brilliant minds, create situations that lack time for decompressing after stressful interactions, and put people in position to meet unrealistic deadlines to complete assignments we are actually bombarding them with stress inducing situations that limit our ability to maintain impulse control and reduces their capacity to meet the demands of the tasks at hand.
The more people operate in a state of high stress and threat the more sensitive the limbic system becomes to threat in the workplace. This sensitivity and lowered response time to arousal can dissuade key contributors from moving forward on risky projects. The detection of threat related to a project or change initiative will more than likely be perceived as negative. People perceiving a state of threat linked to a project or activity will want to remain safe and will be less inclined to support it or demonstrate the higher level thinking required to complete their portion of the project tasks. The tendency will be to look at the downside of the project and offer less than supportive ideas or reasons why it won’t work. People feeling this state of threat will take fewer risks on projects. They’ll be less likely to have creative insights and offer innovative solutions to move the needle in a positive direction.
When the limbic system is aroused because of perceived threat in a work setting we lose the ability to draw on needed resources to think quickly and intelligently to handle hard, challenging questions from leaders, managers or key stakeholders in meetings or presentations. The perceived threat forces us to rely on deeply embedded functions or ideas housed in long term memory or more recent events that caught our attention yet may not have importance to answering the questions or relevance to furthering the project. Important details will be forgotten at the critical moment and will not be recalled until later when we are in a calm and relaxed state in a non-threatening environment. At that time the PFC is able to access the resources to recall the appropriate information through higher level thinking.
When the limbic system is aroused it limits good decision making in the work place because we are limited in our ability to focus and maintain attention. We get easily distracted as we react to salient objects (loud, shiny, and bright) or stimuli in our environment that is less detailed and more general. We are responding to them as we are influenced by emotion rather than rational thinking. We do not focus on important details and information that is required to make key decisions. Complex thinking is a challenge when the thinking region of the brain is impaired and influenced by the onset of stress (threat) in the workplace.
When in brainstorming meetings to generate new ideas and possible solutions for an important issue an aroused limbic system will influence our ability to contribute ideas. Brainstorming generally requires us to be open and creative to allow brain stimulation to access remote regions of our brains to offer ideas to the group. The aroused limbic system will impact our ability to have insights. Insights require a quiet brain to access multiple regions and tap into the network of memory and brain maps…the aroused brain doesn’t allow this process to occur as it is creating distracting emotional noise and gearing up to fight or flight or freeze. The aroused limbic system would limit the flood of insights we desire and we would likely be silent and perceived as disengaged or a non-contributor by others in the meeting. To allow the brain to fully engage in the brainstorming process we need to create an environment that restricts stress, creates calm and comfort and frees the brain up to access remote regions of the brain to recall tacit information appropriate for the purpose of the meeting.
The limbic system reacts to threat. In the workplace that threat is easily felt through stress. The onset of stress can be triggered by any number of things throughout a typical day. Think about what stresses you and how you perform after you are in this state of stress for prolonged periods of time. Are you at your peak performance level? Do you have the necessary clarity and alertness required to respond to requests or make complex decisions? The bottom line is for all of us to be aware of how we react to threat and stress and how well we engage our impulse control to regulate emotion in the workplace. An over aroused limbic system will impair our ability to fully function in the workplace.
At some point in our professional careers, we have all experienced some sort of email etiquette training–whether it be a company policy document, a just-in-time web-based tool, or an in-person training session, we’ve all been through it. And there is a lot of useful information that is shared through those various avenues because, when it comes down to it, writing an email is a distinct form of writing. There are rules to follow: be concise and to the point; do not attach unnecessary files; and (please) do not overuse the high priority feature, just to name a few.
However, there is one rule that I would like to bring more attention to: make it personal. I realize that most of us are inundated with emails throughout the day (and if you happen to decide to take a week off for a vacation, knowing that there is a stack awaiting you when you return can be enough to ruin your last day off), so this rule may be one that is followed only when it’s convenient. Nonetheless, it should be followed. Some tips to consider: when writing to only one person, consider opening your email by asking a follow-up question to a conversation you may have had last week that is non-work related. Or, if you’re writing to a group of people, and it’s a very stressful time because you’re all trying to meet an important deadline, make a reference to that deadline and acknowledge the level of stress. And my favorite, consider simply changing your closing salutation; it may seem minute, but if you’re asking someone to do something for you, wouldn’t it be more personable if you closed with “Thanks” rather than “With warm regards”? It’s little things, like personalizing your emails whenever possible, that may help you build networks in your work environment. And who knows–maybe a co-worker will consider going the extra mile for you as a result of you taking the time to personalize an email to her (and it only takes a few seconds of your time).
I’d like to know your thoughts. Do you think personalizing emails is worthwhile? If so, how do you personalize your emails?
Technology is making us more nimble, proactive, and better-suited to meet our customers’ needs. Smart phones are making us more connected, easily accessible and productive. Show of hands: at the root of those two statements, who disagrees? Remember, remove any personal biases you may have toward technology and smart phones–the question refers to the root of those two statements. I’m assuming, at this point, that there are no hands in the air. I can’t disagree either, so count me in the group not raising his or her hand.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, allow me to bring in my personal bias: I prefer face-to-face communication. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of technology and everything it offers; I challenge you to find one industry that has not been improved, in some way, directly as a result of technology. And smart phones…I have owned my iPhone for around two months and I don’t know how I survived without it: I can simultaneously find the nearest Italian restaurant, map the shortest route to that restaurant, send the address in a text message to my friend, all the while listening to You Can’t Always get What You Want by The Rolling Stones.
So, as you can clearly see, I have embraced technology and smart phones. However, I am still partial to face-to-face, in-person communication. Think about all the aspects of communication that are lost due to our increasing reliance on virtual means: body language, facial expressions, instant feedback, just to name a few. These missing pieces can lead to numerous unintended outcomes, three of which being: a longer, more drawn-out conversation; misinterpretations of meaning; and the need for clarification where it may not normally be needed.
Conference calls and WexEx’s have become the default when planning a meeting these days, and a lot of the reasoning comes from having geographically-dispersed project teams and clients in different locations and, perhaps even more so, due to restricted travel budgets. On the other hand, there are some engagements in which WebEx meetings should be the exception to the rule. Last week I was doing some research on the topic of negotiations, and came across an article that highlighted an interview conducted with an expert in the field. The interview centered around conducting negotiations via email. Upon beginning to read the article, I imagined two conference rooms separated by thousands of miles, each with a group of people huddled around a computer crafting a response to the other party: “Write this, that will show them!” “Type this, I’d like to see what they say to that!” “Are they serious? Give me that keyboard…” I could go on like this for some time, but let me state my point: in a face-to-face encounter this kind of back-and-forth is not likely to happen and, as a result, the negotiation will tend to be much more productive for both sides.
So, when planning your next meeting, examine the objectives you would like to get out of the meeting, and if it seems like those objectives can be achieved virtually, great. However, if there is the potential for unintended misinterpretations or the need for instant feedback, don’t discount the face-to-face meeting. You may be surprised at how productive your meeting becomes.
I’d like to know what your thoughts and experiences are on this topic.
Just as in Greek mythology where the sirens lured ancient mariners to their destruction upon the rocky shores, the sweet song of business wisdom lures us into thinking that we should plan for a “win-win” outcome when negotiating.
I disagree. It’s not that I think both parties should walk away from the bargaining table unhappy. No, it’s that planning for discussions using any competitive approach—using “win” or “lose” terminology—puts us in the wrong frame of mind for impactful, fruitful discussions.
Rarely does anyone “win” a negotiation. If we are even thinking about winning a negotiation, we’re starting out on the wrong path. The need for victory gives rise to hubris and the means, not the desired end state, becomes the focus of our planning.
Sadly, this compulsion for victory diverts attention from why we are in the discussion in the first place. Our focus should be on achieving our interests, not winning or losing. Look at it another way: if we get most of what we are looking for—but not all—did we win? On a competitor’s scoreboard, the answer is “No.” But did we lose? Of course not! We are well on our way toward where we want to be.
So forget “win-win.” Think results … in meaningful, measurable terms. The sirens may be disappointed, but both parties will be better off!