Information & Training. | TQM. Total Quality Management.
The role of “negotiation” in building effective teams.Negotiation can be defined as “a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement”. In any negotiation between two or more individuals, there will be a level of “give and take”. Within the team environment, there will be a continuous level of negotiation throughout the lifetime of a team and will be present in all “effective teams”. In the majority of situations, the individuals concerned may not even consider themselves to be involved in negotiations, yet the very nature of every discussion, where a level of compromise and buy-in is sought, there will be a negotiation. Therefore, within a quality environment, an important attribute of every team leader, will be to drive successful, positive negotiations, between the team members and others impacted by the team’s performance.
Building on the above, a definition of effective, positive negotiation as being …
A communication process.
Between two or more people.
Who need to reach agreement.
Which is mutually acceptable.
And stands the test of time.
In a “quality environment”, the long term must always be considered. There is no benefit in a team leader seeking to impose a solution, which alienates the other team members, as goodwill will not be forthcoming in the longer term. Equally, a team cannot be operated on the basis of only progressing on consensus, as progress will be painfully slow and at times the appropriate solution may not be implemented. There is therefore a balance which must be achieved in leading a team. The ability to negotiate towards the appropriate solution, in a timely manner, is therefore a key skill which must be inherent within the team leaders and team members in the TQM organization.
When a negotiation situation arises, there are four stages to be considered.
Preparation is key. The extent of preparation will be determined by the criticality of the potential outcome, the complexity of the task and the potential level of resistance which may be encountered. When preparing for a negotiation, a SWOT analysis can be a useful guide. In the SWOT process, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are identified and analyzed. The strengths and weaknesses will be internal to the situation i.e. internal within the organization or within the team. The opportunities and threats will be external, i.e. what are the potential opportunities if there is a successful agreement, alternatively what could be the potential threats if an appropriate agreement is not achieved.
In preparing for a negotiation, there is a need to consider what will not be negotiated (red line issues) and those that are open to some form of compromise.
The discussion stage. As the negotiations proceed, those involved will determine their respective approaches. The following approaches to negotiation were identified by “Fisher and Ury”.
Separate the people from the problem.
Focus on interests not positions.
Invent options for mutual gain.
Insist on objective criteria.
The above seeks to keep the negotiators focussed on the problems and challenges. To refrain from getting involved in forming subjective opinions or from seeking to impose their viewpoint in order to “win”. The discussions need to remain objective with a view to finding common ground.
Is there an approach which can be applied where all sides feel they have been listened to and have had their opinions inputted into the final outcome?
Effective Teams. A “Win/Win” strategy?
In order to protect and ensure long-term buy-in to proposals and future objectives, the team should seek positive agreements. Positive outcomes will be facilitated where a team leader and team members seek to build positive relationships. This will need empathy and a willingness to adapt to alternate viewpoints. During a discussion, individuals need to explore issues beyond their own positions. There needs to be an effort to find common ground, to identify needs and wants, to seek to form an alliance against the problem.
Discussions initially need to focus on potential options, rather than on solutions. Individuals should personally examine options even before getting into the discussion stage. During discussions, it may be beneficial to perform brainstorm analysis to identify options based on team inputs. Building on the brainstorm idea, there needs to be a fair approach to identifying suitable proposals. This may be based on some form of voting, or independent expert review and decision making, etc.. This final stage can be considered the bargaining stage. The objective should be to agree on the optimum solution, however, depending on the relative power and potential resistance of stakeholders, some level of compromise which does not deliver all desired objectives may be preferable to a confrontational situation.
TQM organizations rely heavily on teams to address problems, identify opportunities and to deliver organizational objectives. Therefore, team members and team leaders need to understand the approaches which facilitate good negotiations.
Actions such as the following stifle the potential to reach agreement …
Having too many augments against a proposal. There needs to be a focus on the key points, as weak augments, can undermine a position.
The defend/attack spiral can be destructive as the focus moves onto outdoing the opponent, rather than seeking agreement.
Having a counter proposal against every alternate option put forward can also move negotiations away from seeking common ground.
Actions such as the following can be considered “success enhancers” …
Encourage questioning with a focus on finding the “win-win”.
Encourage individuals to flag their opinions giving the reasons first, then their disagreements, rather than their disagreements first as this latter approach tends to disable listening by the recipients of the communications.
Continually, test, summarize and seek to understand alternate opinions.
Information & Training. | Total Quality Management Tools and Techniques …
- Continuous improvement utilizing Analytical Techniques.
- 5 why’s analysis
- Process Flow Diagrams/Flowcharts/Process Mapping
- Check sheets /Check Lists
- Run charts
- Scatter Diagrams/Scatter Plot
- Cause and Effect/Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
- Identifying sources & causes of variation
- Control/Shewart Charts/DPU Charts
- Cpk and Ppk Analysis
- Pareto Analysis
- Bottleneck Analysis
- Etc. Etc.
- Information & Training presentation >>>