Comments are closed. Tactical negotiationOn 4 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today Effective negotiation when the company is allocating budgets, and handling astagnant employee. Advice by F E (Pete) Peterson Q: “We have just concluded our budget season and I came away fromthe final meeting with nothing I had asked for. HR had to leave some importantitems on the table. How can I negotiate more effectively next time?” A: There may be larger forces that kept you from obtaining all youasked for – the weaker economy, the business impact of international tensions,difficult conditions in your industry. In these times, it is natural in anycompany to look at expenses not directly related to customer needs. But ifafter considering these factors you still believe you should have done better,consider these tactics next time: – Pre-sell the budget proposal. Thoroughly brief your boss and talk toeveryone on the management committee, if that is the approving body. One time Iwas able to get to five of six people on the budget committee to familiarisethem with the HR budget – and of course, it was the sixth person I hadn’treached who challenged the budget and sent me back to the drawing board torevise it. – I found I was more successful if I could position the budget proposal in away that made it clear that budgeted items could help managersrecruit/develop/excite talent and make managers’ jobs easier. In contrast,proposals to increase the productivity and efficiency of HR itself, especiallythrough IT programmes, usually met with a yawn. Senior management was primarilyinterested in an HR budget showing the maximum benefit attainable company-wide.– Show benchmark data that opens a window on to other companies’ HR profilesand compares their performances with yours, such as headcount as a percentageof sales or HR headcount relative to total headcount. What was most helpful inadvancing my HR budgets was if I could show comparable data from companies thatmembers of our management team were genuinely interested in – companies theyadmired, which were known for best practices, and which often were our directcompetitors. – Be realistic. In the current economic environment, recommending expensivesoftware solutions and new benefit programmes might be bad timing. You can doreal long-term damage to your credibility by making unrealistic proposals. Thebudget process is, after all, a key opportunity for HR to demonstrate itsability to be a good business partner. – If you still come up short, look for fat to trim elsewhere in exchange forretaining something you regard as vital. And go back to step one – pre-selling– if you feel that members of your budget committee didn’t have the rightinformation to make a decision in your favour. They might reconsider. Q: “I am struggling with how to handle a long-time employee who, tobe honest, has reached his level of competence. He has recently been asking meabout his prospects for promotion. What do you advise?” A: You have to ask yourself some questions. Is this person seekingpromotional opportunities using your job posting system and continually beingturned down? If you had a higher-level opening in your department, or knew ofone elsewhere, would you consider this person a candidate? And can you and theorganisation live with whatever level of performance at which this employee islanguishing? If the answers are yes, no and no, you have to move to a corrective actionplan. This might mean a transfer to a position where the person can besuccessful – or it could result in involuntary termination. However, if you decide the individual’s performance is acceptable, the nextquestion becomes: Is this a question of ability or motivation? In terms ofability, consider what your employee has already accomplished to reach hiscurrent level of performance. I usually had more success working with people ifI focused on what they did well rather than what they were unable to do. For example, take a middle manager who lacks analytical ability, a problemthat reduces his promotability, but who is outstanding in producing employeecommitment. If I can help that manager further develop that asset, and help himbecome a role model, that makes more sense for him and for the organisationthan pounding away at his lack of analytical ability. If it’s a motivational issue, a comment of ‘a job well done’ can oftenreally excite people. A lot of power can be gained by that, especially withemployees who have levelled off. I believe that managers can do much, much morein terms of offering informal rewards and recognition. People are more willingto accept constructive criticism if they also receive appreciation for theirstrengths. F E (Pete) Peterson is a principal of the Cabot Advisory Group(www.cabotgrp.com), a US-based company of veteran senior HR executives fromglobal organisations. Cabot principals have direct experience designing andimplementing creative, practical solutions to today’s leading HR challenges.Peterson was formerly senior vice-president HR for Hewlett-Packard Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.