Management Tips.

It sounds good . . . what does it mean?

“Many people think in terms of either/or:  Either you’re nice or you’re tough.  Win-win requires that you be both.  It is a balancing act between courage and consideration.  To go for win-win, not only do you have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident.  You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you have to be brave.

To do that – to achieve that balance between courage and consideration—is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.”  Stephen Covey

It does take courage to ask for what you need.  And it also takes good consultative skills to have an optimal outcome.

Last year the Northern California Human Resource Association (NCHRA) offered me the opportunity to present a topic of my choice throughout 2015.  As a big fan of the win-win philosophy, I chose this topic to deliver to HR professionals throughout the Bay Area.  The 1.5-hour program begins with a facilitated discussion about the challenge of influencing a win-win outcome for a project or proposal with an executive or business partner.  We assume it will take two meetings to accomplish buy-in.

First Meeting.  One initial tip is to set modest expectations in a first meeting.  Resist the urge to “sell” your ideas.  If you consider that your key objective is not to influence but rather to hear the other person’s perspective on the issue, you will not only be better prepared in a second meeting, but you will also have started building an ally to your proposal.  Additionally any research you can do about past trends or historical data adds to your credibility and ability to customize your message.

Consider that in a first meeting you should talk approximately 20% of the time, briefly explaining your project or proposal, leaving the remaining 80% listening and recording their responses to questions such as:

“What are your primary goals this year for resources and dollars?” The answer may inspire inclusion of other options and stakeholders in your second meeting.  Ask questions such as, “What is your initial reaction to this project?  What are your ideas about this project?  What are your concerns about this project?  What do you see as both the positives and negatives of this project?  What do you see as obstacles (resources, $, time, other) to success?  What do you see as the main benefit of this project?  Who else would be involved in approving this project?”

Second Meeting.  Your second meeting is aimed at getting either initial or final buy-in.  Tailor your discussion from their responses in your first meeting.  How can you integrate their #1 benefit and positives more directly into your proposal?  Did you find a solution (or partial solution) to their primary objections?  When you finalize your discussion, identify options to ensure your success.

Incorporating their ideas increases likelihood of approval.  Create Good-Better-Best choices for them.  Multiple options enhance the possibility of a win-win outcome for both of you.  Some years ago I worked for a successful retailer.  They had three primary store chains aimed at offering three price options for the customer:  discount (low), mainstream (medium) and upscale (high).  By offering multiple options, they increased the chances of a win-win outcome for both the company and the customer.

With probing, perseverance, and collaborative alternatives, you can greatly increase the likelihood of a “Yes.”

One of the exercises we do together at our meeting is to have people pair up.  One in the pair tries to persuade their partner to attend an HR event.  Afterward I ask for a show of hands:  How many partners were persuaded?  Approximately half usually raise their hands.  Then I ask how many felt that more questions and less talk would have either influenced them or made them feel better about the outcome.  Invariably, everyone raises their hands.  This simple interaction demonstrates the value of the “20% talk, 80% listen” principle.

Wishing you many win-win outcomes!

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