Many organizations subject their executives to rigorous performance reviews, yet few companies include negotiation effectiveness as one of the core competencies they track. Instead, negotiation is usually subsumed under categories such as “emotional intelligence,” or “persuasiveness” while negotiating ability can be improved through negotiation techniques and negotiation training, which are not a regular part of employee training programs.
Measuring your Negotiating Ability
The negotiator-related questions posed in most “36-degree assessments” don’t measure the right skills and abilities, such as preparation. When evaluators do assess negotiations, they typically rely only on post hoc accounts and overlook the details of the bargaining experience.
Monitoring Negotiator Progress and Improving Negotiation Skills
To accurately track improvements in a manager’s negotiation capabilities, someone must monitor how that person is doing – before, during, and after several key negotiations. Before a negotiation begins, it’s useful to review how well an executive prepared. Did she spend enough time thinking not only about her own interests but also about those of the other side? Did she clarify her organizational mandate, including her authority to make commitments? Did she identify options for mutual gain to put on the table at the appropriate moment?
Monitoring Negotiator Skills in Business Negotiations
When it comes to assessing the negotiation itself, you should strive to find out how well the employee listened to the other side’s concerns and how nimble she was in revising her sense of the other side’s priorities in light of offers made. What kind of relationship did she build? How effective was she at creating value? Following the negotiation, did the manager coordinate adequately within the organization to ensure the implementation of the agreement? Was she able to deal with surprises – changes in the business environment not covered in the agreement when they occurred?
(See also: Negotiation Techniques)
Even if a company ensures that its managers receive formal negotiation reviews and timely feedback, the question of how to measure performance can be perplexing. Did the executive create enough value to warrant high marks for performance? Upper management should set explicitly benchmarks internally before putting any performance system in place. Bristol-Myers Squibb not only has instituted such benchmarks for negotiation performance but also trains senior managers on how to use them and how to best offer constructive criticism.
The Key: Reward Self-criticism; Don’t Punish It.
Negotiation performance reviews should help managers become their own best critics.
What methods have helped you improve your negotiating ability? Share them with us in the comments.
Originally posted in 2012.