Sunday, December 03, 2006

Negotiate to Win-Win

There are two things that are really important to stay on track in this program. One is staying healthy and the other is making sure that your laptop is up and running always. Folks in the class have experienced one of these situations and faced some problems. Some have had a leg injury while playing soccer and some were unfortunate to have their computers refusing t cooperate. I fell into one of these categories this weekend. My laptop developed a mother board problem as a result of which I was forced to buy a new one. When one is a student and there is no inflow of money , buying a new laptop is not a pleasant thing . :)

Had I been earning, I would have bought a really cool laptop but since I am a student, I had to be a “compliance buyer” and got one of those machines that met the required standards and was within budget. This laptop is a good one (AMD Processor) and I hope like my earlier machine is faithful and serves me for a long time.

It is getting colder in Canada and some of us are getting a dose of how bad (read cold) things could get in the future. It is below zero degrees Celsius, and with strong winds it feels great to stay indoors.

Last week was an exciting week. We underwent the Negotiations exercise.
The negotiation exercise was an event where students were split into different teams. One team comprised of the Labor Union who wanted certain grievance issues to be settled. The Union had a big list of demands. One of them was a “substantial” wage increase. On the other hand, we, the management had to get the best deal and of prime importance was the right to outsource that the union strongly opposed.

The teams had prepared well. We, the management team, had spent 6 hrs just discussing how to deal with the union. Our strategy of negotiations with the Union primarily involved three main stages –an Opening stage, a Tactical Commitment stage, and the Final Approach stage. On the other hand, the union was well prepared too. They threatened to go on strike if things didn’t go their way. Both the teams had 5 hours of negotiation, discussion and arguments and we finally reached a win-win settlement.

There were several take aways from this exercise

-Negotiations with the Union can be very challenging. Balancing the dual goals of maintaining a good relationship with the Union and our duty as managers to secure a good deal is a delicate task.

-The more preparation one does for a negotiation, the better are the chances are to bag a good deal.The details we ignore in a negotiation may come up and bite us when we are most vulnerable

-We realized that in such negotiations, where the labour-management relationship is critical, a win-lose outcome will not be the optimal option. The decision needs to be acceptable to both parties, should cater to the parties’ interests, and foster a positive relationship. The overall objective is to negotiate the best deal on behalf of the Company.

It was a great experience. Am sure everyone in both the teams enjoyed it. Here are some pics we took.

( The "Management Team" before the negotiation)

(The Labor Union with one of the Management members)

( The deal is done. It is a win-win situation. Let us celebrate)


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