If anyone ever needed to negotiate better, it’s the human resources leader.
After all, aren’t you almost always in the middle, working toward what’s best for employees and championing what’s best for your company?
On top of that, you often need to propose – and win – ideas that help your team succeed. And every once in a while, you need to negotiate for yourself to get what you want professionally.
So here’s help – three top negotiation strategies from experts at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
The best part is they’re good in nearly every situation – from getting resources for your team or a raise for yourself to getting employees to adopt new procedures or accept change.
Focus on the other side
Most leaders don’t negotiate, thinking they’re negotiating. They just tend to focus on what they want and how they’ll get it.
In contrast, the Kellogg researchers say the better bet is to focus on what the other side needs and how you can help them get it.
You’re the vehicle for the change you want, not a roadblock to what the other side wants.
For instance, if you want a promotion – and a hefty pay raise that should come with it – focus on the responsibilities you’ll take up and alleviate for the boss. Or talk about the processes you’ll make more efficient so the department realizes cost savings.
To be sure you have the other side in focus, take what Kellogg professor of management and organizations Victoria Medvec calls a “pronoun check.” If you find yourself saying “I” and “me” a lot, you’re probably on the wrong track – the one to nowhere.
Differentiate yourself, your cause
When you set out to gain something – and end up in negotiations – recognize that you aren’t the only one pining for more time, money, attention or resources.
Because others are negotiating for what they want – even if it’s not exactly what you want – you need to differentiate yourself or your cause.
Highlight what makes you stand out or what will make the biggest impact in the near future. Remember that it needs to hold context for the person or people whose approval you want.
For instance, if you want more funding for new software in your department, focus on how your team is the only one that sees employees at their best and worst. Your enhanced insight will help identify the best benefits to attract top talent.
Bring options to the table
You may only want one thing when you go into a situation where you negotiate, but you’ll want to offer a few things to the other side.
Consider all the issues you want resolved. Then look at several ways that could happen. You can mix and match issues and solutions to create a few options to put out there.
“Multiple offers let the other side feel like they have a choice,” Medvec says. “They feel better about having a choice. And they’re going to react better to having a choice.”
For example, you want your team to earn a bonus for a project they dread. You might present this to the CFO: a percentage of the cost savings divided between team members, additional paid time off or a one-time larger bonus based on the timeliness and quality of the finished project.
Leave wiggle room in your options, knowing what you’ll compromise on, what the other side is likely to compromise on and what could be contentious.