Published on April 22nd, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover
“You can get everything in life you want if you will just
help enough other people get what they want.”
- Zig Ziglar
ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES”: Over the years, we have noticed a certain dynamic during the course of negotiating workplace issues that is surely worth sharing. We usually begin negotiations by addressing the employer’s concerns, but our clients want, instead, to start off by raising their own concerns, first. We have found that, when we first raise our clients’ “wants” instead of first discussing their employers’ “needs,” things don’t go as well. And, so, we often counsel our clients, before going into negotiations, this simple thought: “Motivate Before You Monetize.”
Case History 1: We had begun negotiating an employment contract for a senior executive. As is commonly the case, our client wanted a long-term agreement, which represents considerable job security. She decided that a firm 3-year term of employment should be the first item of discussion, and perhaps even a condition to the discussions going further. The employer did want to go past a 2-year commitment. Quite needlessly, that issue ended the discussions altogether, because, I believe, we “monetized” before “motivating.”
Case History 2: Another client had been promoted, and was offered increased stock options as part of his new compensation package. He felt the number of stock options was not what he had expected, and expressed disappointment. We counseled him to focus not on the number of stock options, but to begin first with a discussion of what metrics of success in his work would trigger the vesting of his stock options, because that is what his employer was most concerned about. In our discussion of the metrics of success, we ended up agreeing upon a formula for triggering options grants and option vesting for different levels of success that would ultimately give our client more options than even he wanted to ask for. Talking about success, that is “motivating,” led to an easier time “monetizing.”
Case History 3: We were negotiating a severance package for a client. We began by discussing what our client’s legal claims were, and their probable enforceability. We were focused on convincing the employer that the way our client had been mistreated during employment justified the better severance terms at the end of employment. Our client became quite impatient that our discussions were focused primarily on “why” he should be treated better, and not focusing on “how much” better severance he should receive. Acting without our knowledge, he spoke directly to his employer on the subject, and demanded a hefty increase in severance. His doing so was not helpful, to say the least; in the end, we believe, it resulted in a smaller severance package. Lower motivating so often leads to lower success in monetizing.
LESSON TO LEARN: The observation that underlies our advice to “Motivate Before You Monetize” is this: Employers are more flexible, more generous, and more understanding of your needs and desires after – and not before – they are confident that you are flexible, giving and understanding of their needs and desires.” So, before you raise your “numbers,” explore their “needs.”
And, conversely, “First impressions are lasting impressions.” That is, if employers are first confronted with requests that initially seem audacious, one-sided, larger than they had anticipated, and not directly related to their achievement of their own objectives and goals, they are often turned off from the start of discussions, and sometimes irretrievably so.
What you want, need and feel you deserve in a negotiation is surely on your mind as you enter into that negotiation. But holding that off for the moment, and addressing your employer’s wants, needs and feelings of what they deserve, is a wise move, indeed.
Monetization – that is, speaking in terms of numbers of dollars – should wait until employers are most receptive, and they are most receptive when feeling greater confidence that their needs come first.
There is a Yiddish saying that “God gave us two hands, one to give and one to receive.” I have always noticed that the “give” in that saying comes before the “receive” in that saying. Keep that in mind in your own workplace negotiating, and you may observe how well that works, as we have, over these many years.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: In your own workplace negotiating – whether it is about a new job, a promotion, transfer to a different department or location, compensation, performance reviews or performance improvement plans, the resolution of claims of harassment or discrimination, severance, or anything else – address, discuss, explore and seek to resolve your employer’s concerns, desires and needs before your own, especially when your desires and needs are set forth in dollars and cents. That is, “Motivate before you Monetize.” Here are some thoughts to help you do just that:
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