One of the first steps in tackling a new negotiation is building your team of advisors. In my Negotiation Consulting work, I recommend to leaders which subject-matter experts would bring them the most benefit when crafting strategy or working through tough negotiation points. Professionals such as lawyers and accountants are always valuable in making sure everything you’re agreeing to is above board, but you’ll also want to pull on a variety of others to contribute their thoughts. For example, you may want to invite both current and prior account managers to your kickoff to get both a sense of the current state, as well as an idea of the background that your counterpart is coming to the table with.
When inviting people to be on your negotiation advisory team, there are two different routes to take:
The Mosaic: A team of diverse individuals, working together for a common goal, but each maintaining and speaking out on their individual opinions and expertise. Not afraid to speak their mind, members of a Mosaic bring their honesty and candour to kickoff sessions, while still being respectful of others in the group.
The Melting Pot: A team of diverse individuals, working together for a common goal, but each shaping their opinions and expertise to match those of a dominant group member. Overly diplomatic and vague suggestions are the result of team members in the Melting Pot being afraid to upset others, and it’s a sign that not rocking the boat takes priority over helping the organization.
The Melting Pot team structure sounds an awful lot like group-think, doesn’t it? Since the dominant group member is likely you – this may sound appealing. Who doesn’t love having a room of people agreeing with them and enthusiastically embracing their ideas? But your negotiation isn’t about ego – it can’t be if you’re trying to drive the best results.
So as much as you’d love to hear ‘yes’, consider drafting team members that are willing to speak up and say no (and then provide a great idea to make things better).
- The employee that asks the tough questions during quarterly reviews? Invite them.
- The colleague that offers suggestions on how to improve your work, even when you think it’s already perfect? They should be around the table.
- The loudmouth who rudely undermines your points during meetings? No need to invite them – we’re building a team with the goal of value-add, not demotivation.
The key benefit to bringing together an advisory team to help you with your negotiation is that you’ll hear stories you wouldn’t have otherwise, and begin to see connections and opportunities where previously there were none. This wealth of new information can be overwhelming – but just as a Negotiation Consultant helped you build your team, they can help you synthesize the findings and highlight the most valuable gems.
Who do you have on your consulting team? Have you found a balance between ‘the more the merrier’ and ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’? What’s the most valuable insight you’ve gained from speaking with colleagues about a tough issue?
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