Posts

Negotiation Strategies

Every day we are negotiating. Whether on a sales call, seeking a raise or dealing with our kids. I recently read James Altucher’s book Reinvent Yourself and he shared what he learned about negotiating from his interview with Chris Voss, the former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI. Chris wrote a book about negotiation called Never Split The Difference. Here are negotiation strategies gathered from James’ interview with Chris. Many of the same points I learned negotiating as an attorney.

  1. The most important question is to ask somebody “How?” For example “How am I supposed to get a million dollars by tomorrow?” Open ended questions such as “How” or “What” get people to keep talking.
  2. Everybody tries to get a “Yes” first. Chris says get them to say “No” first. For example “No, I don’t want this project to fail.”
  3. List the negatives on your side. It shows you can empathize with them. In my trial lawyer days, I always brought out the opponent’s arguments before they got a chance to do so. It built credibility with the jury along the way.
  4. Try to show they may be powerless – If the negotiation is not going your way you can say “Sounds like there’s nothing you can do.” People resist the idea of being powerless.
  5. Use silence- people can’t stand silence. As the saying goes “let the silence do the heavy lifting”. Be quiet long enough and they will come up with something to say.
  6. When it comes to numbers in a deal Chris recommends letting them come up with the numbers first and stresses the importance of using very specific numbers.
  7. He also encourages us to make our list bigger than theirs. Say you are going into a negotiation with your CEO for your dept. agenda; if you go in with one option and then they say “no” where does that leave you? If however you go in with five and they say “no” to 3 you are way ahead of the game.
  8. Figure out your terms and conditions in advance. Don’t wing it.
  9. Chris also talks about mirroring, the power of information and using the deepest voice you can when negotiating.
  10. I can add to this list the importance of being able to walk away from the table. You must go into a negotiation with a Plan B. If you are stuck with only one option you have the weaker position. Knowing your “outs” is an important part of being a good negotiator.

There you have it, wisdom for your next negotiation!

All the best, Don

PS Has the person at your company that handles HR signed up for my Great HR program yet? www.greathr.com

Do You Have Your Hiring Act Together?

“The number one secret to having a great company is to make sure your managers hire great employees.” – Jim Collins

How good are you at hiring? Better than the competition? Most important how good do you want to be? Top 25%?  Top10%?

Everyone tells me about how hard it is to find talent today. The mistake with that thought is the part about “finding” employees as opposed to “attracting” them.

When we find our self in desperate hiring situations we can make big mistakes. We will hire somebody we like just so we can get it over with…and go back to our more important jobs. We can forget hiring is the most important job a manager will ever do. (See Collins above.)

Just one bad hire can set a company backwards. When I ask the CEO’s I speak to “how much did our last bad hire cost you?” They start at $50,000.  They have often said more than a million dollars!

That’s just one bad hire.

Here’s a short checklist of things you should be considering if you want to hire great employees.

    1. Get super clear about who you want to hire. Is that desire in writing and driven to a checklist? Then test and assess towards those criteria. Bottom line is if you want an experienced 3rd baseman, with a .300 plus batting average, who is good in the locker room too…you must hire for that!
    2. Do what you can on your social media sites, web page, etc. to brand a great employment experience story. Like they do at Zappos or Southwest Airlines or In-N-Out Hamburger.
    3. Take a checklist approach to hiring. Checklist are one of the best ways to avoid system variances. And bad hires. You can see my hiring checklist template here.
    4. Create a great hiring experience. From the moment an applicant looks at your website until the moment they are hired.
    5. Make sure your managers know how to treat and interview job applicants. Do they know how to prepare for interviews? Do they have the skills required to do them? Do they know what compliance questions to avoid? Do they know how to rank and rate job applicants?
    6. Last, have a good follow up process with job candidates so they know where they stand. Nothing is more frustrating than putting in a resume and not hearing back within a few days. How’s about they hear back within 24 hours! Don’t lose a great candidate due to indifference.

None of this is rocket science… yet half the companies hire better than the other half. Then there’s those rare companies who hire in the top 10%… and build great companies in the process.

How do you know if training produces results?

W. Edwards Deming was once quoted as saying “Don’t ask me the ROI on training, you either believe that education has the greatest form of leverage or you do not.” His point is this: when you are in a knowledge economy the most learned win.

But that’s only one part of the equation…isn’t it? It’s also about taking action on that knowledge. The implementation and production of results matters too. As I like to say …from abstraction to action!

Here are questions to consider when trying to answer the results question.

  • Do you give employees a way to rank or rate the value of the training?
  • Do you follow up with them a month later to find out their execution on the knowledge gained?
  • Is the training offered in alignment with the strategic objectives of the company? The closer you are to the core strategic outcome desired the more effective your training will be.
  • Has it helped people to become more productive? What did they stop and what did they start? How do you measure that?
  • Does it fill a skills gap?

What other ancillary benefits can the training provide?

  • It emphasizes a dedication to continuous improvement.
  • An increase in creativity, innovation and suggestions.
  • Becoming a more attractive employer (…so long as you market your great training programs in the hiring process).
  • Lower turnover rates.
  • Decrease in complaints and lawsuits.
  • An improvement in communication and employee relations.
  • Often, we can grow our organizations through internal talent by using training rather than bringing in lateral hires and having to engage in cultural unlearning with them.

Whether you are trying to implement a new project management software program or reduce bias claims you want your training to be effective…meaning it helps to produce results. You also want it to be something that employees look forward to because it is insightful and engaging.

And talk about great training…have you signed up for the Great HR program yet? If not, what are you waiting for? It’s awesome! And, if you are not in HR have your HR person register. You will be glad they did! www.greathr.com

Here’s 10 Great HR Ideas You Can Use Today

I love creativity. Disruption. Differentiation. In fact, I’m going to be the MC for the next DisruptHR meeting in San Diego.

HR has a great opportunity to break past the status quo and to test new theories, strategies and tools. Here’s 10 ideas I came up with. What would you add to the list? Do tell!

1. Request every job application to submit a joke with their resume. I am serious about this. If they don’t do so they can’t follow instructions and you don’t hire them.  Then there are those who will provide jokes that put them on the do not hire pile immediately. For most everyone else, you at least have a laugh while going through that stack of resumes and you will learn a little bit more about the candidate.

2. Create an employee referral system that works. Most employee referral systems don’t work for two good reasons: there’s not enough “juice” in them and it comes with little support. You have to make it easy for employees to refer candidates with a one page document they can hand them or a link they can drive them to. Then put some financial “juice” in the system that gets them past the fear of referring someone. I would consider as much as 10% of that employers first year salary, which is far less than you would pay a recruiter or temp firm. Parcel the payments out quarterly over the year if the employee remains on board.

3. Do group interviews with final candidates. I like seeing how people work in a team dynamic.  Have three potential coworkers interview the final three candidates… all at once. Each employee will ask each candidate three questions. You are not just focusing on the answers but how the candidates treat each other while going through that process. Will they through somebody under the bus? Will they raise their voice and disagree? The best thing you can do is have fun sitting back and watching it unfold. It will tell you how they will treat future co-workers. As with any of these ideas just test it once. See how it works. Then improve it from there.

4. Ask my favorite interview question – what felt unfair to you at your last job? And then drill into the answers. How they respond will indicate how they will deal with something that feels unfair working for you. Which is guaranteed to happen. I will go through a candidate’s entire history with that question. Doing so has eliminated many a candidate. And… don’t forget to ask what they were most excited about in previous jobs.

5. Create a social media committee. Millennial’s will be great in this role. Provide them with some simple rules to follow and then let them do their thing. They can help your employer brand on Glassdoor, Indeed, your hiring page, Facebook page and more!

6. Ask your managers to take on a very simple challenge: for the next 20 workdays, beginning on a Monday, they are required to show at least one employee they manage that they care about them. You can discuss their family, upcoming vacation, or job concerns. Provide the manager a simple form where they can write down each day who they spoke to and what they did to show they care. Then he asked them to turn it in after 20 days and have a discussion with them about what they learned in the process. What great ideas can be shared with other managers? Make sure you commit to the exercise as well. Perhaps have fun prizes along the way.

7. Create an art wall. You can decorate it with pictures and paintings from local artists, your employees, and their kids. It will breathe creativity into the environment. Besides, you can’t be funked out very long looking at kids art.

8. Have a Red Nose Day. While the official date is May 25, the better one is any day you choose. Red noses are cheap on Amazon and it will generate many laughs. Give the employees a few to take home too. I find it’s very difficult to take yourself or anyone else seriously while wearing a red nose. Make sure to gets lots of selfies to post!

9. Create a quiet hour. Preferably early in the morning when people are at the sharpest so they can focus on the most important tasks. Prohibit “stopping by”, emailing or otherwise interrupting the quiet unless it is an urgent and important matter.

10. Make fun T-shirts for your employees. Let them get involved in the design. Have a contest. Employees will design a shirt they want to wear outside of the workplace. This is a low-cost way of engaging and branding your workforce.

Those are just 10 of my Great HR ideas. What are a few of yours? What have you done that is cool, disruptive or different?

Please share and I will accumulate the responses. Once I have received 100 combined I will send that document to all contributors. You want to be on that list.

PS this list is derived from the Great HR program. Plenty of more where they came from…and now we will generate even more.

Managing the Good Performer Gone Bad

Employees are wonderful… until they are not. Often, employees become derailed because of personal challenges or changes in their work environment or roles. When looking at poor performance check your head by asking these questions.

  1. Is it the fault of the system? – As Deming said, “the system is the problem!”. Is this person mismatched? Round peg in a square whole? Has their job “moved past them”? Are they getting the support they used to get or need?
  2. Is there a skills gap that can be cured by training?
  3. Are they being managed any differently? Perhaps a new boss, or new team members are involved?
  4. What would a third party like me say looking at the situation? That third party might be HR or another manager in a different department. Or me :)
  5. Is the employee aware of their poor performance? Have they been getting regular feedback? Has that feedback been documented? Have you considered putting them on a 30 day performance improvement plan?
  6. Have they somehow been “demotivated” and become disengaged? For example, did they try to push forward a project only to have it squashed and now they’ve lost their mojo?
  7. Do they have a mental disability? It could be depression or drug addiction or alcoholism. While you don’t have to ask them if there is such a problem you can remind them of the resources available, like an EAP program should they have any limitations on the ability to do their work.
  8. If it’s not the system and the issue lies with the employee then have them own it. Ask me for a copy of the Employee Correction Form I designed. This allows poor performance to “own” their performance and what happens to them when they do not pick their game up.
  9. What does your gut tell you about this person? Fact is, most poor performers don’t turn around and improve their performance. Things only tend to get worse over time. If this is the track you’re on then do yourself and them a favor and let them go so you can quit torturing each other. If they are a good person, and they did not engage in any outrageous conduct, then do what you can to help them get a job where they can fit in.
  10. Remember this- you can unconditionally care about a person but that does not mean you have to have an unconditional employment relationship with them. Don’t confuse the two.

A final note. I find I tend to torture myself…and others… when people don’t match my expectations of who they “ought to be”. True at work and at home. I also realize I am far more effective when I deal with people “as they are”. It is what it is. There is no benefit to gain by adding the emotional override of “shoulding” on the situation.

Take a deep breath, follow these recommendations and you’ll do just fine!