Growing Great Companies


Successful Negotiations Require Some Compromise

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Prepare and Rehearse

Prepare your salary offer and rehearse its presentation. This includes knowing how “high” you are willing to go and what concessions you are willing to make. Once those parameters are breached, you know you’ve reached your walk-away point.

You can set boundaries for negotiation by including a salary range based on experience in recruiting ads. While this automatically sets parameters for the salary, it doesn’t curtail bargaining on “quality of life” issues.

Speak First

A positive opening statement from you builds trust and goodwill with the potential new hire. Make candidates feel wanted; let them know you can be trusted. This will help overcome the traditional adversarial stance that many negotiators assume.

Write it Down

As you reach agreements on terms of employment, put them in writing to avoid backtracking later in the process. If an agreement is on paper, neither party will have grounds to contest it.

Bite Your Tongue

Occasionally, friction or even disagreement can occur between you and the prospective candidate, but never allow yourself to get emotional. It’s better to excuse yourself from the table for a few moments than to get hostile and alienate a potential employee.

Playing “hardball” with a recruit won’t leave a positive impression either. The conversation may continue, but communication will have ceased. If you allow the negotiations to take a negative turn, you may cause irreparable damage to your new employee’s morale before the candidate even begins the job. Even worse, you may kill off a potentially valuable team member.

Focus on Issues

When negotiating, focus on the issues, not the person. If you’ve come as far as making a job offer, and you reach an impasse in negotiations, separate the person from the problem. You’ve already placed some value on this person, so put yourself in the recruit’s chair. Take a step back and ascertain why the candidate is taking an adversarial position. The sticking point must be important to this person. Take it upon yourself to keep the negotiation from centering on one divisive issue.

Sit on It

Don’t make a concession the moment that you recognize you can. Your concession could be construed as a sign of weakness. Instead, work the concession into the deal at a later point so you’re not seen as a pushover.

One other point about concessions: be cautious about what you offer. Despite your best intentions, the details of pay plans may get shared among employees. Before you make a concession, consider how others will react. Will you need to make a similar offer to existing employees? Will your concession go against current policies or norms? If you are going to make a concession, take time to consider the true cost of what you offer.

Try, Try Again

When you reach a potential impasse, try a different approach rather than continuing to tackle the issue head-on. For example, if the salary you are offering does not meet the candidate’s expressed requirements, try offering non-cash incentives or the opportunity for an early review. Or better yet, ask more probing questions to determine what else the candidate values, so you can determine other options to offer.

And even after you’ve reached an acceptable agreement, allow time to reflect and review all the terms of the deal—you may just find a few ways to improve the final agreement for both parties.

This Isn’t a Game

Don’t expect to win every issue. A negotiation is a series of give-and-take agreements that benefit both parties. But never lose focus of the fact that an employment negotiation must remain win-win—a better deal means a better deal for all involved.

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