Test Your Employment-Negotiating IQ

Have you been reading our blog posts? Have you been watching our YouTube videos? Think you’ve made progress in becoming your own best negotiator? Let’s see:

Question 1:

You arrive at the office one morning, and are called into a conference room. You’re accused of being “hostile” to your assistant yesterday, after he took two hours for lunch. What should you do?

a. Simply refuse to discuss the matter, as it is just silly.

b. Ask to have your personal attorney present with you in the meeting.

c. Ask what the company policy is on “hostility,” and what the specific allegations are.

d. Take the position that whatever you said, he surely deserved it.

e. Remind your HR representative that “Everyone talks that way.”

Your Answer (choose one – no peaking!!): a b c d e

The Best Answer: More than anything else, you need to find out what’s going on: the facts of the allegations, and the specifics of company policy about “hostility.” Your most important task is to ask about how the “investigation” is going to be handled. Approach the problem from a calm, deliberate, objective basis. That’s your best way to handle any allegation made against you.

Initially, you should just absorb information, to use later to your benefit. Listen, ask questions, and listen some more. Perhaps take notes. Try not to make any statements until you’ve been given the answers to your questions. Emphasize that you may need some time to think about things before speaking.

However, don’t fight the process. Refusing to participate in an internal investigation could be considered insubordination, and thus grounds for firing. Don’t be dismissive of the concerns. Don’t be defensive. And don’t try to justify anything. Act professionally, and objectively. Remember, too, that you don’t have any “right to legal counsel” in an employer’s internal investigation.

Incidentally, “everyone does it” is simply not a defense to any allegation.

So, the Correct Answer to Question 1 is “C.”

[By the way, if you chose “D,” that “whatever he said, he surely deserved
it,” you need some real coaching. You lose one vacation day. Ouch! That’s not a positive for anyone’s Employment Values.]

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider watching our 10-minute video on YouTube entitled “Responding to Allegations at Work.” Simply [click here].

Question 2:

You plan to resign from your job tomorrow. Which things can you take home with you today?

a. List of Clients’ names

b. List of Competitors’ websites

c. List of Co-workers home addresses

d. List of Suppliers’ telephone numbers

e. List of Board Members’ email addresses

Your Answer (choose one of the following): a b c d e f

The Best Answer: Taking confidential information with you when you leave employment is like taking a computer with you – it’s a kind of theft, plain and simple.

Names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of clients, co-workers, Board Members and suppliers are considered “confidential” because they are not publicly known or available, and have been put together by your employer over time, through effort and expense, and are valuable. For example, your employer’s competitors would love to get their hands on the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of clients, co-workers, Board members, and suppliers, so they could put them to their business advantage.

However, information is not confidential if it is publicly available, and websites on the internet are “publicly available” by their very nature. They would also probably be of little special value to your employer.

So, the Correct Answer to Question 2 is “B.”

[Note: If you picked “f,” you need a quick cup of coffee: there
is no answer “f.” Did we catch you napping?]

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider watching our 10-minute video on YouTube entitled “When Leaving – How to Take Colleagues with You.” Simply [click here].

Question 3:

You’ve been accused of poor performance, and placed on a “performance improvement plan,” or “P.I.P.” What’s your first step?

a. Contest the facts of your performance, and the reasons for the “P.I.P.”

b. Look for a new job outside the company

c. Ask for a severance package

d. Ask to be assigned to a different boss

e. Work your hardest to satisfy the P.I.P.’s requirements

Your Answer (choose one): a b c d e

The Answer: Each of the five suggested answers to this question are good things to do, but only one answer is the “best” answer, because the question is what step should you take “first.”

The Best Answer: When confronted by an allegation that your performance is not “up to snuff,” you should first ask for an opportunity to give your side about your performance, and raise any reasons why better performance was made impossible by circumstances or people you don’t control. Raise, too, the reasons why you believe you have been unfairly singled out on the issue.

After arranging for an opportunity to refute your performance appraisal, then you should start taking each of the other four steps: look for a new job outside the company, because these circumstances rarely end with your staying in your employer’s employ; ask for a severance package, in case you don’t find a job in time; ask to be assigned to a different boss, to avoid unpleasantries and to give you a chance elsewhere, no matter how slim a chance; and work your hardest to satisfy the P.I.P.’s requirements.

Few people meet a P.I.P.’s requirements. Very few.

So, the “best” answer to Question 3 is “A.”

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider watching our 10-minute video on YouTube entitled “Performance Improvement Plans – How to Respond.” Simply [click here].


So, how did you do? Better than this fellow:

A young executive is leaving the office late one night when he finds the CEO standing over the shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. “This is a very sensitive official document,” says the CEO. “My secretary’s gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?”

“Sure,” says the junior exec, excited that the company CEO would let him in on something like this. He turns on the shredder and hits the start button.

“Great,” says the CEO. “I just need one copy.”

We hope you passed your first Employment Negotiating IQ Test!

New “self-tests” will be forthcoming!

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved

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