Negotiation preparation is as much an organizational task as an individual one. For example, when determining their best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA (the point at which the negotiators ought to walk away from the table), executives should check in with key organizational leaders.
Improve Your Negotiating Ability by Monitoring Your Progress
If senior managers are unwilling to invest time in such a conversation – or if they offer less-than-helpful advice such as, “Whatever you do, don’t lose that account!” – an executive can’t be held responsible for poor preparation. Indeed, approaching the bargaining table with a prepared list of best alternatives to a negotiated agreement, an outline of your best estimation of your counterpart’s interests, and a general framework for dialogue improves the chances that each side will reach a mutually beneficial agreement. What can a negotiator do to overcome, or even prevent, this problem from emerging at the bargaining table?
The solution: Develop a negotiation preparation worksheet that will engage the entire organization in the necessary preparation and gauge executive performance after the fact. A preparation worksheet not only obligates a negotiator to account for all the factors that ought to be included in a negotiation strategy, but it also requires high-level sign-offs on all relevant estimates. In this manner, a concrete basis for performance reviews becomes available once the negotiation ends; negotiators and their supporters can check intentions against results.
Keep in mind that you should link bonuses and other rewards not just to negotiation outcomes but to outcomes in light of initial expectations. That is, review agreements in light of the value created above the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) agreed upon before the bargaining session began. By establishing metrics for quantitatively measuring performance, negotiating teams can address deficiencies in a focused manner and tailor their training towards that end.
What is on your negotiation preparation checklist? Let us know in the comments below.
Monitor and Assess Your Negotiation Skills – How to effectively monitor your negotiation performance in order to improve future bargaining outcomes.
Report Negotiation Results Internally– How to establish an organization negotiation training regimen with quantitative measurements geared towards improving individual negotiator’s negotiation skills.
Originally published in 2014.