There are many reasons the CLO might want or need to negotiate. There’s the struggle for parity and a seat at the C-suite table and endless wrangling for programming funds and resources in a penny-pinching economy. And let’s not forget senior-level executives’ responsibility to keep direct reports moving in ways with which they might not agree.
Those needs are probably why negotiations in the corporate learning space don’t often begin with an emphatic “No!”
Jim Camp, president and CEO of The Jim Camp Group and author of “No: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home,” said that with the proper coaching, “No” might help win arguments and whatever prize is on the table.
“‘No’ is a starting point in a negotiation, not an ending point,” Camp said. “CLOs should ask themselves, ‘What am I trying to accomplish? Am I trying to entertain? Am I trying to fill a square with training, or am I trying to really make a difference in the corporation and its effectiveness in the field? Am I trying to build an effective team with training, or am I trying to entertain?’ When the mission and purpose of the program is clear, how it’s designed to benefit the employee and the corporation, the CLO has a real opportunity to give the organization permission to reject the purpose of that program.”
Now, why would a CLO want to give the powers that be implicit permission to reject something? Once that rejection is out, along with the fear that frequently accompanies it, Camp said there is another opportunity: to discover what can be accomplished.
Once the issues and “No” are on the table, the pressure is reduced, and a strong, valid discussion about real-world problems and solutions likely will emerge.
Camp said the collective bargaining strategy that filtered into U.S. business dealings in the early 1900s, following introduction of the Railway Labor Act, requires that parties bargain in good faith and with compromise. But the assumption there is that resulting compromises will please the other party.
Commonly known as the win-win, this philosophy is not always true to the modern spirit of negotiation. Instead of focusing on the win-win, making assumptions and compromises, Camp said negotiations might be better served if they centered on effort.
“[The win-win way] is a very weak way to negotiate,” Camp said. “Imagine sitting in your office. You have something of value, and you want to negotiate the use of whatever that is — your skill, product, service, whatever. You sit there, and out of emotional fear, you assume that the other party will like you and like what you have to offer. You literally sit there thinking, ‘How can I make the other side happy?’”
Camp said CLOs might consider using and teaching a decision-based style of negotiation that establishes value without an immediate concern for pleasing the other side or compromising before the negotiation has begun.
“You have two types of training: training to qualification and training to entertain or certify,” Camp said. “Train to qualification so that a person is qualified and capable of excellent performance. Ask questions — what does the president of the company wish to accomplish with training? Compromise and assumption is never part of that process.”
But decision-based negotiating introduces another interesting element: emotion. Camp said most, if not all, decisions are emotional, although the average person might think they’re intellectual.
When decisions are properly aligned with principles of human behavior such as the right to veto, an agenda (which must be negotiated and agreed upon), a budget (made up of time, energy, hard currency and emotion) and vision (how you see something in your mind’s eye), a system will form.
Camp uses more than 100 principles to teach negotiation skills in an Internet-based format that incorporates recorded CDs, simulation-based activities and coaching.
If negotiations are successful, and the CLO wins the resources to start a learning initiative, etc., but then things go awry, some of those same negotiation skills might help the CLO recoup any losses and regroup.
“That would sound something like, ‘Our last program failed, but we’ve done our analysis, and we know why. We feel very strongly that the new program we’re proposing will solve the problem we’ve experienced in the past,’” Camp said. “When something goes bad, analyze why it went bad and then negotiate that problem right up front. Nine times out of 100, it went bad because the organization hasn’t really bought into the training. Someone has the power to bring a program in, but they didn’t adequately negotiate to get buy in across the organization, including the rank and file, and the program isn’t supported. The original negotiation failed.”