The Importance of Developing Negotiation Skills in the IT Industry - Information Technology Essay Example
Negotiation has been overlooked as an important management competency / skill as it was limited to the confines of the conflict – resolution phase - The Importance of Developing Negotiation Skills in the IT Industry introduction. This skill whose aim to is to minimize differences between parties, can also be effectively used as a tool for information-sharing, influencing and building or strengthening relationships. This tool is most helpful especially in the IT industry where the environment promotes openness in communication, particularly in the sharing of information and involvement of everyone in the decision-making in the organization. Interest-based negotiation, a new technique that is more appropriate for the current setup, is more appropriate to use for the IT Industry. The author of this paper encourages the development of this skill through the concepts taught, which is particularly created for the managers in the IT industry.
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In the borderless world of today, the far-reaching connections of the trade involving allcountries can be attributed to the IT industry. A few clicks of the mouse and keyboard punches, business has never been so easier. However, this ease of connections also meant stiffer competition between businesspeople. The business environment has been more demanding and fast-paced. Aside from the race of who’s offering better products and services, the pressure to please the customers is another thing to worry about.
This is where the important skill of negotiation comes in. A vital business communication technique, this is defined as a dialogue in which each person explains his or her position and listens to what the other person is saying; in this exchange of views, parties make proposals and concessions are explored, with the goal of closing a deal, usually in business. (Cellich, 1997).
The competency of negotiation is a must for every manager. As a business leader, the ability to communicate with persuasion, presenting an idea and coming up with options in order to reach an agreement between parties is a well-known, yet unmastered competency. Studies have shown that this skill has been linked to Emotional Intelligence. Ergo, being a good negotiator entails possessing a high EQ. But like any other skill, the researcher believes that negotiation can be developed through training, concepts, knowledge of the techniques and practice.
More than convincing or influencing decisions, negotiating is also about developing and maintaining relationships. In the field of business, this is one of, if not the most important aspects in surviving in its tough arena. The negotiating table is a staple in the life cycle of business – from the start of the partnership, to term modifications until the end of the business relationship.
This is why I had chosen this topic for the project. I have taken a particular interest in the subject due to intangible benefits the skill brings to all industries, even in the high-tech field of IT. With the facts presented about the competency of negotiation, the researcher aims to inform its readers about the importance of developing the skill as an effective tool for communication in business, especially in the IT industry.
When one speaks about the skill or process of negotiation, it is usually associated with business deals, bargaining or conflict resolution. Little did most people know that it is also one form of influencing which is aimed at achieving win-win outcomes (Manning & Robertson, 2004). It was also described as the process wherein parties meet having different objectives and / or values basing from their motives or interests. The end product of such process is to at least minimize the conflicting differences, so as to reach a mutual agreement.
Though the definition may sound too theoretical, managers are very aware of its practical power in the lifeblood of businesses in all industries. It is through negotiation that the business is opened up for partnership, whether it is for dealers, suppliers or customers. For issues that may be surrounding the deal or service, the negotiating table is the venue for smoothing out these issues and maintaining the business relationship.
And in the final stages of the business partnership, remaining issues or options on the business are discussed in the process. Following these circumstances, conflict can readily emerge in the process due to the premise of persuading another party to be performing an action or agree to an idea which may be quite disagreeable for some reason.
More specific examples of negotiation can be seen in the following: Managers do negotiation with union contracts (Walton & Mackenzie, 1965), resource prices and allocations, delivery schedules, promotions, compensation packages (Lax & Sebenius, 1986; Murninghan, 1992), and a myriad of other aspects of organizational outcomes ( Wall & Blum, 1991).
This was further emphasized by Mintzberg (1993), pointing out that negotiation was identified as a primary managerial role, particularly in decision-making. Ramundo (1994) postulated that almost two-third of the managerial function is devoted to dialogues in all levels within the organization even if this was not primarily considered in orthodox writings on management.
Over the years, organization-based negotiations have not only increased in frequency, but also has become more critically complex. Wall & Blum (1991) observed that it has likewise put on a more ambiguous and changeable which could be attributed to the interdependencies between organizations brought by the globalization and the trend of diminishing boundaries. In addition, they also cited the cross-cultural differences brought by international business as well as the current pack of employees who are well-educated possessing knowledge of expert caliber.
It should also be noted that in the process of negotiation, managerial-level bargaining is controlled by the organization in such a way that the company’s interest is placed at top priority, unshadowed by the personal interest of the manager (Ramundo, 1992). The effectivity of the negotiation is also seen in the prevalence of the organizational interest as negotiation can be exploited to serve the manager’s or negotiator’s personal objectives.
The IT Industry
A common misconception of most people would be to disregard management skills such as negotiation in strategizing for competitive advantage in the IT industry. For an industry who places a premium on technology-related skills such as systems management, programming and other technical know-how, negotiation is still considered as an important skill to get ahead the strong competition.
Competitive advantage in the IT industry meant being able to provide products or services that creates value via significance and organizational support (Peng & Heide, 1992). This may sound easy, but it is really difficult to maintain the competitive advantage due to the idea of copying and modifying successful products or services. Product life expectancy in high-tech industries only takes between 3-5 years (Peng & Heide, 1992).
In these industries, products are relatively the same, but only get modified in certain aspects. The rate of developing the products is at an astounding pace wherein product modifications literally get released almost everyday. A differentiation strategy is adopted by major firms to gain competitive advantage from the creativity, designs, customer support, quality as well as the research accorded to their products (Porter, 1980).
Small players in this industry catch up by way of reinventing successful products and selling these alternatives at a lower cost. Firms in these terms are most likely to devote very little or no time to the R&D function. Though cost-efficient, the process may be risky for the company.
For some researchers, IT effectiveness is measured upon the ability to develop the right technology components of business solutions for its customers in order for the supported business to function according to plans and strategy (Kurien, Rahman & Purushottham, 2004)
One good example would be the strategy employed by Compaq (Peng & Heide, 1992) wherein computer units are somewhat rebuilt using computer parts and coursing through independent dealers. Compaq has found success with the process until the time they experienced parts shortage. Delay on the part of the suppliers meant inability for Compaq to deliver their products on time.
In one instance, Compaq was even put in the wait-list for the release of the hard disks made by Conner Peripherals (Bartimo, 1991). In this process, it may seem that Compaq has been able to minimize cost, but faced difficulty at the same time. If not handled well, the company may have faced bankruptcy due to the losses from undelivered orders.
In my opinion, IT has the most intensely competitive environment, as fast as the pace of their technologies. Yoder (1991) observed that IT firms must compete on the terms of both product differentiation and cost to be able to keep up with the competitors’ paces and survive. If the firms only consider only cost or differentiation, this may be likened to tipping the scale in an unbalanced way. The case of Intel was cited here, a well-known name in the semiconductor field is being threatened somehow by a new player which employs the differentiation and cost efficiency strategy. The company was Advanced Micro Devices, who created a chip that mimicked Intel’s 386SX. AMD’s chip was engineered to be working faster, energy-efficient and priced lower than the branded chip. AMD has thought of the two-way strategy considering product differentiation and cost. Upon realizing this, Intel responded to the challenge by creating 486SX, a cheaper version of 486 (Yodel, 1991)
During the high times of the IT industry, companies were confident enough to create products without considering cost as it was the demand that time and consumers did not mind the hefty price tags. Towards the 90’s, other small players were mushrooming and were starting to gain profit by way of price lowering. Price wars got into the picture that even large companies were willing to compete for margins. Bulkeley (1991) stated that IT customers are willing to settle for “look-alike plain wrap” software over paying list price for well-known software brands. Decision domains of the customers has been observed to be shifting from plainly cost-cutting to a more strategic nature of employing both (Embleton & Wright, 1998)
Aside from products offered, IT firms may also achieve competitive advantage by way of Organizational Support for a certain company’s products or services (Chan & Heide, 1992). Information systems help companies to focus more on providing services that will enhance relationship with its customers and suppliers (Chan & Heide, 1992), like in the case of outsourcing firms. Huff (1988) confirmed that in a recent study made in 51 firms, 70% of their information systems have customer service application accounts. Through this strategy, firms can use customers focus to gain competitive advantage by way of the ff: 1) Providing customers a direct terminal where they can place orders directly; 2) Targeting potential customers for other products using IT (Thompson, 1987).
Thompson (1987) also pointed out that this way, customers get to be the ultimate beneficiary of the lowered cost and they get more responsive services with the introduction of customer-focused information technology.
McFarlan (1990) concluded that the creative, ingenious and innovative use of technology, coupled with the initiative to fully commit and invest also brings competitive advantage for the firm. On the other hand, other IT firms can adapt the strategy of going for the strengthening of relationships with customers rather than gaining market share (McFarlan, 1990)
Kurien, Rahman & Purushottham (2004) described Organizational effectiveness and delivery effectiveness as key areas for Core IT. Organizational effectiveness refer to how the teams are structured, measured, managed and equipped for organizational circumstances. Delivery effectiveness is about the ability of the frameworks involving governance, processes and metrics are designed to help change the business requirements into solutions. Ideas of business unit federations, outsourcing and business relationships between IT and the business firms. Pati and Desai (2005) confirms this by positing that in such trends like outsourcing, which involves a complex relationship, the key to long-term success is the mutually beneficial partnership between the client and the provider.
IT firms help the firm to do operations closer to the customer, improve product and service quality , achieving further product development or redesign and development, reducing production cycle times. Providing firms that to focus on creating customer and supplier value and competitive advantage (Peng & Heide, 1992). In achieving such, IT firms need to have a workforce than can be highly-skilled, productive enough, and able to keep up with the fast pace of the industry. (Peng & Heide, 1992)
Workers of the IT industry are more inclined to be flexible in a working environment that is open to information-sharing and collaboration.
According to Alfred Chandler (1962), the Information age characterizes organizations that provide low-cost services fast and catered to the customer. In his table which shows a comparison of the industrial and the information age, people and workflows show a significant difference:
People in the Industrial age are characterized as less adapting, working independently, catering more to the standard, with decisions emanating primarily from management having little or no consultation with other units. Communication is confined within the functional area.
Whereas, people in the information age, aside from being highly skilled are known to be more flexible, and team oriented. Processes are varying and decisions are not limited to the management level, as lower level positions who have knowledge about the process may be enjoined and communications are social or task oriented across functional lines. (Chandler, 1962)
Organizational decision-making and communication in information technology firms adapt an Adhocacy rather than a Bureaucracy approach. Having sub-unit based planning, organizing utilizing a system interacting subunits, networked units in terms of direction and employing professional norms for controlling. Response time in this setup is shortened and customer service is optimized (Chandler, 1962).Communications in this setup are more constructed in an interactive way without sacrificing certain boundaries. The open nature of this structure, communication is more open, information is freely shared among units.
The IT industry is characterized with the following situations (Peng & Heide, 1992):
a) A competitive environment with uncertainty brought by the gradual evolution of global competition and changes in technology
b) A customer environment with erratically changing customer expectations with respect to timelines of products and services, availability and quality.
c) A supplier environment whose relationship with suppliers reflects a more cooperative style.
Globalization of firms nowadays promote the accommodation of rapid changes brought by the external environment. The information model shows that the “economic dislocations” brought by the paradigm shift from nationalistic to global perspective makes all forms, not only IT companies to develop the ability to adapt to changes in the environment. (Peng & Heide, 1992)
Given this, IT firms should be fully employing cutting edge technology for the further improvement or enhancement of products and services while providing better value for the increasingly demanding and choosy customer market who expects firms to be as adaptable and flexible to their erratically changing minds. Good working relationships between business, IT and customers is key (Kurien, Rahman & Purushottham, 2004)
However, the customers should not be the central focus since it is not the be-all and end-all of the firm lifeline. In order to guarantee survival, organizations must be flexible enough to effectively cope with new and emerging environmental uncertainties. Peng and Heide (1992) postulated that IT firms can provide a foundation technology as well as the required process – human linkages for survival. They cited the example of creating a centralized network connecting all aspects of the larger organization, while taking care of the small subunits focused on customers that both serves as a foundation and structural support. This interconnection enables the firm to supply the customer needs at a faster turnaround time (Peng & Heide, 1992)
Interest – Based Negotiation
The process / skill of negotiation has definitely evolved over time. More than ten years ago, negotiation meant businesspeople preparing for a confrontation of attack / defense and persuasion against another party. However, with the borderless nature of today’s businesses and tight competition, especially in the IT industry, negotiation, as a tool can be used to the advantage of both parties. This trend of negotiation is also known to be a venue for information-sharing. Information, at this day and age is a powerful resource for companies.
Interest-based negotiation, as opposed to traditional negotiation, is known for its capacity to enhance bargaining results without necessarily causing tension or conflict the relationship between parties. The essence of Interest-based negotiation is all about creative exploration, sharing of information and working toward mutually beneficial solutions (Stepp, Sweeney & Johnson, 1998).
Comparing the process of both, traditional bargaining involves the ff: proposal, caucus, counterproposal, caucus until all proposals listed have been thoroughly reviewed. On the other hand, interest-based negotiation shows a difference by way of being more spontaneous, free-flowing and dynamic, making the process generate more options than the former.
Organizational researchers John Stepp, Kevin Sweeney and Robert Johnson (1998) enumerated six steps on doing Interest-based negotiation:
The bargainers describe and define the issue, which could be a topic for discussion or a problem for resolution. The proper framing of issues are critically important. If defined either too broadly or narrowly, the supposed angle can lead to either the lessening of options (for narrowly-framed ones) or frustration (for the broadly-framed ones). Although specificity is the key in this step, it should be noted that the whole aspect of the issue must be addressed.
Opportunities for both parties are provided to identify or lay out their interests regarding the issue and explore the other party’s interest. (Interest is defined as the reason why the issue is important to one or both of the parties). Both parties must be sincerely aiming for the understanding of each other’s point of view. By the very nature of interests, these should be considered and accepted as per legitimacy without being debated upon. The asking of questions to further clarify and understand the interest is encouraged.
Although it may not entirely a be a process that is aimed for matching to see if both parties have common interests on their lists, the interest should be determined for mutuality. Evident shared interests are good opportunities in developing feasible options. For other interests that may be deemed as different or not for sharing, they are opted to be left as is because of the possibility for being satisfied in the final solution.
Upon the understanding of all interests of the parties, the next step involves the creation of solutions or options to meet the needs of all informed interests, as much as possible. Quantity is key in this step. Brainstorming may be used as a tool to generate as many options as possible. Every interest should be provided multiple options.
With that, the parties should then be agreeing on criteria. Criteria are the gauges used for measuring, comparing and evaluating the given options. Considered as the difficult step in the process, criteria are always contested for objectivity. The best gauge for evaluating options would be the interests of boh parties. Agreement on the criteria is the objective of this step.
The parties can then agree on the options to be selected that best meet the agreed-upon criteria. Though it may be an instant logical solution, evaluating each option using the agreed-upon criteria may be too mechanical, fussy and discouraging of dialogue. Here are some recommended techniques to facilitate the step:
Reviewing the list of options, focusing on presenting broad approaches to solve the problem. Each approach is ensured of a deliberate discussion and evaluation to ensure its ability to satisfy interests of both parties.
Providing opportunities for participants to choose several options that is deemed best meeting the criteria. Even if the process may seem similar to voting, it should be informed that the activity is done as such to test initial preferences. Options that garner the most favors will be primary focal points. Other options may be further examined to see their ability to meet criteria or if these could be incorporated within the primary options. In most cases, the incorporated ideas usually help meet as many interests as possible.
Larger committees may employ the Fishbowl technique. This process involves a table placed within the U-shaped table. Chief spokespersons will be asked to assign around two to three people who are knowledgeable of the bargained issue. The designated persons occupy seats on the fishbowl and are tasked to weave together options that are feasible as identified by both parties. During the deliberations, any member of both parties may sit in an empty chair provided for the purpose of suggestions or comments. Usually, issues that may be taking long to deliberate upon may be set aside for the moment, or “parked” until all issues have been deliberated upon. After which, the parked issues may be resumed upon. As the interest-based negotiation is after the mutual benefits for both parties, each issue is ensured to be seen as a joint problem to be solved.
The options are integrated or crafted into a comprehensive solution to conclude the process. This step is better known as the writing of the contract language. Usually, a drafting committee is assigned to take over the activity. To ensure accuracy of the terms agreed upon, clarifications from both parties will be done until the document reaches full consensus from both parties.
Usually, concerns surrounding Interest-based negotiation involves the required time. To address this, the participants are required to be arriving at the table with the problems identified clearly, interests articulated with a timeline to facilitate the flow of negotiations (Stepp, Sweeney & Johnson, 1998).
The advocates of Interest-based negotiations believe that cooperation is the best policy.
Even if Interest-based negotiation employs the same behaviors, norms, and problem solving methodologies which are utilized when parties cooperate during agreement terms. It fosters problem-solving and encourages frank discussion of the complex issues. (Stepp, et al, 1998)
This process is considered as an art rather than a science, which brings to the idea that flexibility is a must. Openness, information-sharing, exploring creative ideas and the employment of mutually agreed-upon criteria are ingredients of successful negotiations.
Though it was noted that Interest-based negotiation is not a magic potion, nor a religion or panacea, but an effective tool for negotiators to be more effective in achieving their objectives. The use of this tool is not limited to mere contract negotiations, but can be also helpful in helping resolve regular conflicts in the workplace. (Stepp, et al, 1998)
Negotiating types from conflict modes used in Bargaining
Now that the importance has been discussed in the prior topics, an assessment of the conflict styles will be tackled to determine how most personalities cope with the conflict-resolution process, usually related to negotiation. It must be noted that what the author meant by conflict –resolution does not limit only to interfering in differences dwelling on the negative, but also on the positive side of negotiation.
Knowing these personality differences via the conflict modes will help in the development of the negotiation skills. Groth (1999) quoted Negotiaion guru Mary Parker Follett “ We cannot hope to integrate our differences unless we know what they are”. Shell (2001) also discussed this idea in the employment of the Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument in negotiation training.
He believes that a person’s bargaining style, in relation to the conflict mode plays an important role in negotiation using the Dual concerns mode as the proponent for this tenet. Bargaining styles, as defined by Shell (2001), are considered as relatively stable, personality driven groups or clusters of behaviors and reactions that arise during encounters in negotiation. Gilkey and Greenhalgh (1986:245) defines bargaining styles as “patterns in individual behavior that resurface in several situations seen in bargaining by way of “predisposition mechanisms towards particular courses of conduct”.
These certain traits, according to Shell (2001) affect effectiveness in situations where negotiation reflect signals of being confrontational. In the same light, personalities who are comfortable with interpersonal conflict and open disagreement in their usual personal relations faced in a situation where the calling is about diplomacy and tact would experience stress, as opposed to being an open situation for honest confrontations.
The knowledge of bargaining styles is important for negotiation and should be considered as a part of negotiation training. The knowledge gained from the concepts is instrumental for gaining perspective on the learner’s actions, being able to interpret and understand the other party’s behavior and constructively employ and handle feedback as well (Shell, 2001).
To help determine the personalities involved in the negotiation process by way of knowing the bargaining styles, most negotiation teachers refer to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) which was created in the 1970s. Related to these was the Interpersonal Orientation (IO) which was postulated by Professors Rubin and Brown (1975) as an organizing principle for the personality aspect of behaviors found in the bargaining process. People seen are either high or low IOs. High IOs are those who pay high attention to behavior of others, which are seen as either as cooperative or competitively in orientation. This may be applied on whether they are using this knowledge of people in helping or defeating others.
Those with low IOs, are considered as no paying too much attention to others in terms of emotions or behavior. Their motivation are concentric or more of individualistic concerns. Their only objective is to satisfy their own goals, regardless of how others will be taking it.
The Dual Concerns model introduced by researchers Blake and Mouton (1964) discusses the five different classifications which are behavioral by nature: Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Accommodating and Avoiding. According to them, the classifications are from the placement of the two concerns into relationship with one another in five dynamic pairs:
Those belonging to the Competing orientation is characterized by a dominant, high concern for the self, coupled with a desire to limit the other’s results.
Collaborators possess a high level of concern for both the self as well as the others goals and results.
People with a Compromising orientation have a balanced, moderate level of concern for both the self and others
A high, more dominant concern for the other’s goals over the self is inclined to take the Accommodating approach.
Disinclinations for both the self and others’ goals is described as Avoiding.
The instrument of Thomas and Kilmann has been considered a useful in tool for the bargaining styles; it shows the conflict styles matching with the strategy concepts which was predominantly used in literature on negotiation (Shell, 2001).
Shell (2001) further discusses the Five Dynamic pairs as per the description on extent of predispositions:
Strong predispositions – People classified under this group are most likely to welcome negotiation. The process presents an opportunity for the person for competition, like going for the win in a game to gauge their practiced skills. They thrive in situations where the stakes are high, time is given in a scarce amount and there are open opportunities for bluffing. This may be manifested mainly by lawyers, hedge fund and investment bankers. They have strong instincts on abilities useful to traditional bargaining such as deadlines, leverage, final offers or ultimata. Possessing the predominant hand on most situations, relationship building might be quite hard for these people. As they instinctively think about the issues considered as easier to count, such as money. Also, in this predisposition, non-quantitative issues are overlooked, missing out possible substantiate value it may have brought in the negotiation process.
Weak predispositions – for these kind of people, negotiations are avenues that should go beyond winning or losing. They perceive that the goal should be about parties treating each other in a fair manner. They believe that the abolition of unnecessary conflict can lead to better opportunities for problem-solving and building relationships rooted on trust. The bunch can be perceived as non-threatening.
Strong predispositions – People on this type seek pleasure in negotiations as problems are solved in ways that are engaging and interactive, encouraging the sharing of views where new concepts can be learned from. They see negotiations as an opportunity to delve the more information beyond conflicts for the unraveling of common interests. They are energized with the process of negotiation, seeing the active participation of everyone. People of this profile are mainly corporate lawyers, real estate developers, entrepreneurs and business executives. At times, they may be seen as making seemingly simple matters into complex situations just to practice their skills. Others may find this matter irritating as the time for the closure takes a bit long and the conflict may be reaching longer time periods.
Weak predispositions – Preferring to have problems clearly specified prior to meeting at the bargaining table, they do not see bargaining or negotiating activities as a good avenue for creativity. During brainstorming sessions, these people may be the reason for slowing down the process, it is advised that they should be making good use of the breaks in the negotiation sessions for their own “brainstorming”
Strong predispositions – These people are more of aiming to close the gap in the negotiation table based from the standards or prescribed formula. They are usually perceived as the ones who are reasonable and friendly in the table. Matters that have short periods for decision and lower stakes are well-handled by this position. However, they may be perceived as rushing to get thing over with and make concessions immediately. Careful discrimination of criteria is not much done by them. Outcomes are okay as long as the decision is backed by face-saving reasons.
Weak predispositions – They are considered as the men and women of principle, They are at best when the situation calls for a commitment and passion for the precedents at stake. Although this also means that they might have a tendency to make mountains out of molehills. By doing the arguing in relatively long periods of time, they are perceived as the stubborn ones. Deals with time constraints may be of difficult standing if handled by these people.
Strong predispositions – Solving other people’s problems are the delight of this type. They are relatively good at skills involving relationship building and are sensitive to other in terms of signals, whether explicit body language or emotional states. Negotiations on problems within teams relationship management roles and customer service work bet with these people. However, their keenness to maintain good relationships may create difficulty on the situation due to letting the other party have their own way, competitive types enjoy partnership with these people because they know that they will be winning.
Weak predispositions – These people show very little or no interest in the other party. Whatever they think is right will be their primary concern. Though the weak accommodator is praised for better understanding the negotiation matter in the table, the type may be considered as too stubborn to the point that it borders to selfishness or unreasonableness.
Strong predispositions – skilled at deferring or dodging the confrontational situations, other perceive the trait to be more of appearing to be tactful and diplomatic. They are considered as the office politicians, avoiding interpersonal conflict at all times if necessary. In this light, they may have the tendency to pass up good opportunities for negotiation by avoiding even healthy exchanges of ideas and views in the negotiation process.
Weak predispositions – This group does possess the fear of conflict; they may actually enjoy it. They can tolerate hard-nosed, bolder styles of bargaining. They can actually separate business and personal matters – they may be bargaining hard with certain persons during the negotiation process and share a few drinks or chat with the same group afterwards. These are recommended in professions of litigation, labor-management relations and mergers. But they should also wary of the lack of tact ans being viewed as confrontational. They may be seen at times as troublemakers who should well leave enough alone.
With all the personalities discussed, there is no single best profile that will stand above the rest as different settings call for certain styles of handling negotiations. The knowledge provides negotiators a better look at their own personality as well as other when it comes to the bargaining / negotiating table. The insights are effective for those who seek personal effectiveness in the negotiation process.
Developing Negotiation Skills
After seeing the benefits of negotiation in the industry of IT as well as the different personalities seen at the negotiation table, I believe that the skill or competency of the process will be a useful tool in the aspect of management especially in a more forward-thinking industry of IT.
Cellich (1997) discusses some of the elements of effective negotiation to serve as initial steps in developing the skill of negotiation:
Listening more, talking less – Inexperienced negotiators think that the process mainly involves just presenting an interest and defending it at the table, defying the context of negotiation as a tool for communication rather than a venue for monologues. What expert negotiators do is the exact opposite: they spend more time listening and oing follow-up questions patterning it from the other party’s statement. This way they get to obtain information that is important, of value and they get to analyze it to be able to harness their negotiating power – remember than information is still power, most definitely in the field of Information technology.
Clarification only leads to a better understanding of the terms and interest that may be useful as well. Reding between the lines is also key, not just the overt words the other party is saying. A good listener, according to Cellich (1997) spends more than 50% of the time listening; by obtaining this skill of listening and the ability to ask questions that are appropriate and relevant, a negotiation agreement is a sure thing to happen.
Asking Questions – asking the right questions is key to this type of activity. This needs preparation on the earlier part to avoid unnecessary questioning that could have been minimized with the obtaining of ready information. It should be noted that questioning should not be used to impress others of analytical abilities or knowledge of the subject. Questions are for obtaining relevant information from the other party; in this light, open-ended questions are encouraged to be showing better interest and to know what the other party needs to close the negotiation with mutually beneficial terms.
Clarification tools such as restating, rephrasing, repeating and summarizing what was being said by the other party can also help by making sure that the ideas are being understood on the same terms. This point of acknowledging the other person’s ideas also convey interest, thereby showing that there is a sincere objective to fully know the interest as well as the goal of making both ends come up with an agreement. Though it may seem repetitive, the process actually saves time as issues are better understood and less debated upon.
Augustine (1997) also proposed a useful 12-step program for those who are planning to polish on their negotiating skills:
List objectives and prioritize them
Write walk-away position in advance, the hardest is to not get caught in the spirit of the chase
Understand your counterparts possible emotional issues
Understand your counterparts real objectives as well
Never bluff – you should be prepared enough know what you are supposed to say. Bluffing is a short-term and dead-end strategy that destroys credibility.
Patience is key
If things are going badly , involve a neutral third party respected by both sides.
Never permit debate and disagreement to become personal – stick to issues
Try to find items in trade that are more important to the other side rather than yours
Don’t be constrained with the specific scope of the issue being negotiatied. Peripheral terms may be introduced to bring about a solution.
Never give up
Negotiate only with people with at least as much authority to make an agreement as you have to avoid bait – and- switch tactics.
To further develop the skill, seeking a mentor will also help. By getting to know people who have been facing the same challenges can help guide so as to avoid further mistakes (Garman, Burkhart & Strong, 2006)
Negotiation as a helpful key in business communication is an important tool that should be learned by all managers. Aside from being exposed to everyday circumstances where agreements and negotiations are inevitable, it also promises a better way for information sharing, influencing and building better relationships.
The IT industry, no matter how high-tech it may seem, negotiations are still an important part. With the situations of fast-paced environments vying for market share and customer attention, it should be noted that even if it presents the notion for intense competition, the trend is also inclining on the notion of information sharing and building better relationships with customers and other firms as well. In this regard, the type of negotiation apt for this kind is industry is Interest-based negotiation, rather than traditional negotiation, because of its capacity to enhance bargaining results without necessarily causing tension or conflict the relationship between parties. As stated by the proponents of this idea, Interest-based negotiation is all about creative exploration, sharing of information and working toward mutually beneficial solutions – qualities of a negotiation type that befits the kind of culture brought by the age of Information.
The author thinks as such because traditional bargaining involves more of defending proposals, and caucus that usually lead into tension and emotional stress for both parties brought by the agony of the need to win in the situation. On the other hand, interest-based negotiation differentiates itself by way of being spontaneity, free-flowing and dynamic exchange of ideas. Thus, the process generate more common grounds to agree upon by both parties and having a fulfilling, learning exchange at the same time.
The author also notes that learning how to assess of the conflict styles can be very useful to determine the coping styles / mechanisms of people during the conflict-resolution process in negotiation —- this is not limited to interfering in differences dwelling on the negative, but also on the positive side of negotiation. Knowing these personality differences employing the conflict modes will help in the development of the negotiation skills. This could be further learned through the Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument in negotiation training. Bargaining styles, which are relatively stable, personality driven groups or clusters of behaviors and reactions that arise during encounters in negotiation also play an important role in negotiation using the Dual concerns mode as the proponent for this tenet. These are also thought of as predisposition mechanisms towards particular courses of conduct.
These certain traits affect effectiveness in situations where negotiation reflect signals of being confrontational.
The knowledge of bargaining styles is important for negotiation and should be considered as a part of negotiation training. The concepts are very instrumental for gaining perspective on the learner’s actions, being able to interpret and understand the other party’s behavior and constructively employ and handle feedback as well.
Also, Interpersonal Orientations have been considered. People with High IOs who pay high attention to behavior of others, are seen as either as cooperative or competitively in orientation; while those on the other side of the pole tend to be more firm in their decisions and may be seen as more assertive. This may be applied on whether they are using this knowledge of people in helping or defeating others. This was further discussed using the Dual Concerns model by Blake and Mouton telling more of the five different behavioral classifications: Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Accommodating and Avoiding.
Furthermore, Effective negotiation requires more of attentive listening, asking the right questions, purposeful clarification, patience, perseverance and honesty. Turning to experienced negotiators can also help in the development of this skill.
Therefore, I deem that developing one’s competency or skill on negotiation by way of learning the concepts and practice will be most beneficial to managers especially for those in the IT industry to be more effective in this powerful skill.
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