phrase OSHA violations cause you to shudder in fright? OSHA, the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, should not be a scary monster – it exists to
ensure you and your employees stay safe in the workplace. Slay the monster with
some of these low-cost fixes to common violations.
Maintain easily accessible safety
data sheets on all chemicals.
Did you know that your distribution representative has electronic copies of all
safety data sheets for products they sell? Take five minutes to ask them to
email those over, then put the sheet in a folder on every computer’s desktop.
posters can be obtained for free from OSHA! Make sure you check what other
posters are required in your state and see if those posters are also provided
free of charge. You can find the OSHA posters at this link: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/poster.html
next employee meeting, ask the staff to decide on a safe location for drinks.
It should be convenient but as far away from animal and laboratory areas as
possible. Then, purchase some stylish washi paper tape or fun paint and have a
teambuilding activity to define the new space.
of chemicals that you or your staff refills from the manufacturer’s container
must be labelled. Once you have your safety data sheets, it will only take a
few minutes to make a label. Consider using waterproof printable labels, a
laminated piece of paper, or purchased pre-printed labels specific to your
chemicals. It can seem daunting to find and label every bottle of alcohol or
jar of scrub, but why not try turning it into a game of scavenger hunt bingo
with the staff? Many hands make light work.
fixes are easier, cheaper, and faster than others. If you need to establish or
rejuvenate your training and reporting programs, we are here to help. Just get
in touch with our human resources gurus to find the right solution for you!
doesn’t take long to find articles that share why you should hire for culture fit. You might be employed by or have
worked for companies that stressed how crucial this is. In fact, it’s gotten to
where “hire for culture fit” is something that “everybody knows,” which can serve
as a red flag.
what does “hire for culture fit” really mean? It’s often defined as recruiting
people who, in theory, should be able to join your team and mesh with employees
quickly because of their behavior and belief systems. Ideally, they would quickly
add value to your veterinary practice, too, without causing conflict. Hiring
for culture fit also can be described as a way to look at a job candidate as a
whole, not just as a list of his or her qualifications and experiences. The
person would be chosen in part based upon personality traits and how those
traits match up with those of current employees.
At a high
level, this makes sense. After all, you’ll want, for example, honest team
members who desire to contribute to a workplace that genuinely provides quality
animal care. And so, if you interview someone who fits those parameters, that’s
Good Intentions Go
danger occurs when you take the culture fit concept too far, narrowing what
you’re looking for in a new employee. Culture fit can, quite unintentionally,
become a catchphrase that means you want to hire people who think like you do,
who perform their job duties like you do and who otherwise are just like you.
Doing this can
- Lack of diversity among team members.
- A dearth of viewpoints, creating a “me too” culture that inhibits growth.
- Overlooking potential employees who would have plenty to contribute.
A practice that
rejects candidates who fail to fit into a precise, preconceived mold despite
their qualifications and despite what they can contribute is putting its
efforts into maintaining the status quo rather than hiring to expand the possibilities.
More Than Culture
of focusing on finding the right culture fit, what can make more sense is adding
to your practice culture in strategic ways to increase what you have to offer
your practice team tends to come to a consensus quickly, which you’ve perceived
as a good thing. But if you look around the room, you might notice that
everyone is from the same generation, perhaps older Gen Xers.
added, say, a millennial to the mix, what would happen? There might not be as
much consensus anymore, but you might receive a wealth of information about new
technology, and this can add a new level of service to the practice, streamline
communication and much more. Diversity isn’t just generational. It can involve
making the practice more gender equal or evolve the racial-ethnic demographic.
a more diverse workforce can benefit you in numerous ways. But to make that
happen, make sure that a desire for culture fit doesn’t turn into a demand for
Hiring for Value
sure that new employees fit in well so that you can pursue goals together is
important. But for a new perspective, aim for value matching instead of
focusing on culture fit.
For example, if
your practice strongly believes in providing empathetic service to clients and
their pets, then recruit and hire people who can live out that value. When you
hire for a value fit, you look for candidates who share the same sense of
purpose that others do at the practice. You still allow for, and even embrace,
diverse points of view on how to achieve the goals.
sound like splitting hairs, but when companies carefully analyze their culture
and define what they value, and then create a hiring structure based on those
factors — and ensure the process isn’t really a path to a lack of diversity — then
how the process is phrased might be a matter of linguistics. Unfortunately, not
enough companies take the time to do a deep dive into what they value, and even
fewer then interview and hire based on the intelligence gleaned. Too often,
culture fit still means that those in charge of hiring make subjective
decisions based on gut feelings about job candidates.
you tell the difference between hiring for culture and hiring for values? In
the November/December 2018 issue of HR
Magazine, a good example was given. Saying you want to hire friendly
people who have a good attitude is an example of hiring for culture fit in a
way that can hinder innovation. If, though, your practice places significant
value on high autonomy in the workplace and you’ve discovered how to interview
and hire for it, this can become a value fit hiring process.
The HR Magazine article also recommends
that scorecards be used for candidate assessment. The example used is that a
practice decides that relationship-building skills are valued. Without using a
carefully created scorecard, a quieter candidate who has stellar relationship-building
abilities can be overlooked.
What can be
helpful is to talk to job candidates about the environments that allow them to
thrive. Some people, for example, work especially well within a significant
structure while others prefer to have wiggle room and space to breathe.
Open-ended questions can give you additional insight into these candidates. If
you feel uncomfortable about an answer, decide whether the answer is “wrong”
for your practice or whether it’s an opportunity to open yourself to new ideas
that would add value to the workplace.
end up hiring someone and it doesn’t work out well, you have an excellent chance
to decipher why if failed. Did the employee’s values not mesh with yours? If
so, do your interview notes reveal any missed red flags? What can you learn
from the review?
notion of hiring for culture fit was first developed, it was a significant step
in the right direction, focusing hiring managers on looking beyond mere lines
on a resume. Including a cultural-fit component in your hiring practices can
still be useful if your recruiting structure is well thought out, you’re strongly
focused on values and you acknowledgement the importance of diversity.
In today’s times, employers are finding that they need to make their workplaces as appealing as possible to recruit and retain employees. In the past, it may have worked reasonably well for a company to advertise for employees, interview candidates, select the best ones, and then tell them what benefits were available.
Today’s reality is quite different, with new employees now having certain needs and desires that aren’t necessarily the same as those valued by Baby Boomers. Although employers are still interviewing job candidates to find the right person to hire, quality employees are also using the interview process to decide which company is the best fit for them.
This may be even more true in the veterinary industry than in the overall workforce, as the shortage of veterinarians, nurses, and technicians becomes even more acute. Here are insights into four benefits being desired today.
Although quality employees are still willing to work hard, today’s graduates greatly value life-work balance. One recent Gallup survey indicated that 53 percent of employees today place a premium on this kind of balance and, as new graduates continue to come into the workplace, that number is likely to continue to increase. Because this balance was found to be even more valuable to females, this benefit is especially important to note in industries that are often female-dominated–such as the veterinary industry.
Because of this shift in values, practices that want to attract an all-star team will need to consider how they can incorporate flex-time schedules. This can feel challenging, given that patients typically need to be treated in the same room as the veterinary professionals, making it difficult to allow employees to simply telecommute.
Instead, practices may need to provide more flexibility within the jobs themselves. For example, practice managers can focus on matching up job responsibilities with the interests of each employee. Or, it could mean allowing employees to swap positions on certain days to give them variety in what they do, which can help to strengthen teamwork.
One of the most desired ways to offer flexibility, though, will be to help employees accommodate their personal schedules and needs within a workweek. For example, how can you facilitate shift switching in a way that covers the needs of your practice but allows employees to meet demands from their personal lives? How can you adjust start times or lunch breaks to accomplish the same objective?
Is it possible to rearrange schedules to allow employees to have four-day workweeks? That’s another perk that’s increasingly in demand today.
A 2015 Workplace Trends study showed that flexibility was named the most important benefit by 75 percent of employees. Organizations who help to provide that flexibility have benefited in the following ways:
- improved employee satisfaction (87%)
- increased productivity (71%)
- retained current talent (65%)
Plus, 69 percent of the workplaces surveyed use flex-time options in their recruiting, with 54 percent of them believing this had a positive effect on recruitment.
Learning Stipends/Continuing Education
Learning stipends are cash benefits offered to employees that they can use for professional development or continuing education. Many employees today want to continue to learn—with one study showing that 87 percent of Millennials consider the opportunity to continue to grow and develop a key benefit. In turn, this lifelong-learning, more educated workforce can provide significant benefits to the veterinary practice.
Encouraging a learning mindset in your practice culture, and helping to provide educational opportunities not only helps your employees to grow personally, but also in a way that makes them even more valuable to your practice. If providing learning stipends to employees isn’t practical for you, then find out what employees feel they want to learn more about and provide workshops. One example of this option would be organizing lunch and learn events at your practice.
As a related desire, employees today often want to know that they will be mentored by an experienced person in the industry. This can mean someone who will help to navigate the new hire through the workplace culture, and/or to understand policies and procedures. Each person may have slightly different needs when it comes to mentoring, but it’s an in-demand benefit, one that can boost the strength of the practice when handled well.
Mentoring helps transition new employees into a particular workplace and, the more quickly that a new hire feels comfortable and part of a team, the more likely that he or she will want to stay at that job.
Also, consider incorporating reverse mentoring, where the new hires help to mentor more established employees in areas of their expertise. This concept was created in 1999 in General Electric, with many other prominent companies adopting the program.
One of the key benefits experienced by one such company is that they experienced a 96 percent retention rate for the Millennials involved in reverse mentoring. These employees felt valued for their contributions to the company, and this gave them a chance to work more closely with senior employees. This can also help to create a more diverse workforce and pipeline of incoming human resource talent.
Finally, though reverse mentoring, younger employees can help more established ones to stay on the cutting-edge of technological opportunities that may benefit the practice. One large insurance company pairs older IT employees with new ones to discuss best practices and key trends, and to otherwise maximize potential of the company.
What’s important to think about is how reverse mentoring might benefit your practice. Reasons may not be the same ones as those at the large companies being referenced in this article—and they may not be the exact same ones as the veterinary practice down the street. It’s important to think about your business and workplace culture needs, and then create corresponding pairings and reverse mentoring structures.
New employees in the veterinary industry will likely perk up their ears when they hear that a certain employer has invested in or has access to the best technology to treat their patients. Tech-enabled workplaces are simply more appealing to many of today’s job candidates. And, the use of technology to recruit and retain star employees can go way beyond the technology used to care for patients, helping to create an engaged workforce.
You could, for example, provide quality continuing education through the use of online courses or a training and development center that employees can self-access. Gamification in training may well appeal to the younger generation at your practice, creating a fun way to raise the bar on what employees are expected to know.
With gamification, training is provided in an interactive, engaging way that uses elements of games to help users immerse themselves in the experience. If this idea is new to your practice, this ties back into a previous strategy to use; you could ask your new employees to reverse mentor the team on the use of gamification e-learning.
Technology can help employees to collaborate and communicate, with conversations stored for future reference. You can use the power of your website to share your workplace culture with potential employees, letting them see how you understand their needs and focus on finding ways to fulfill them as, collaboratively, you build the best veterinary practice possible.
To maximize your practice, it’s important to stay in tune with what new employees desire. This can happen by reading industry reports, reviewing human resource surveys and studies, talking to your current employees, and using your interviews of new employees as opportunities to also learn more about what benefits and workplace cultures are important to them.
You will likely find that work-life balance, continued learning, mentorships, and technology are discussed. You may also discover new ways to effectively recruit and retain the ideal veterinary team that will allow you to compete in the industry and provide quality patient care.
People like to feel as though they’re worth your time and attention. It’s only human nature, right? When clients or potential clients call your veterinary office, they want to hang up feeling as though their cats and dogs are important to you.
Here are six strategies to help you secure and retain clients through how your practice handles those telephone conversations.
Personalize Calls and Establish Relationships
If you’re a manager, your role in this can be to help ensure that people who answer the practice’s telephones have enough time to focus on the calls they take. You don’t want them to get overwhelmed by having to put too many callers on hold, or become distracted by having to do other tasks.
How many phone calls does your practice get on an average Monday? An average Saturday? At what times throughout the day does your call volume tend to increase? Have you adequately staffed for these times? If someone on your team points out that he or she can’t give adequate attention to callers, how do you respond? Is that response effective?
If you are someone who answers the phones for your practice, quickly find out who is on the other end of each call. Get the name of the caller and their pet(s) and use those names throughout the conversation. Let’s say, for example, that someone calls and wants to know how much you charge for a first-time visit for a kitten, including shots. You could respond by saying that it can be so exciting to get a new kitten, and then ask them for their name and their kitten’s name. In that one simple response, you’ve already set a friendly tone and obtained the information that you need to start to personalize the call.
If you ever feel as though you don’t have enough time to spend with each caller, let your manager know. Ideally, you can brainstorm effective solutions together.
Clarify Client Needs and Provide Appointment Information
During a phone call, find out information such as the pet’s age, how long the person has had the pet and the breed. Use language that’s clear and easy to understand, avoiding industry and medical jargon.
If the caller starts out by asking about the price of a service, let him or her know that you would be happy to provide them with that information, but you need to clarify a few details first. This gives you a chance to bond and build rapport, while ensuring that you’re providing the potential client with the information that he or she really needs. If you simply answer the question with a dollar figure, the caller may just end the call at that point.
Picture this scenario as an example. Let’s say that someone wants to know how much it will cost to neuter a male kitten. Through your conversation, you discover that the caller intends to adopt at a shelter tomorrow where that service is provided in adoption fees. You could then walk your caller through what a typical appointment is like for a kitten just adopted from a shelter and help to book an appointment.
Every situation is different but, in each case, clarifying the client’s needs is a crucial step in providing the best service possible to the callers.
Ask About Other Pets
Let’s say a client calls to make an appointment for his or her dog. While updating the records, you notice that the client’s cat is overdue for a checkup. Kindly remind the client of this information and offer to make appointments for all the animals during the same phone call. Ask what days of the week are best, whether morning or afternoon works better, and so forth, and the client will likely recognize how much effort you put into making the situation as stress-free as possible.
Then, offer two choices. “OK, so Thursday afternoons are good for you. Would you prefer 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.?”
Side note: Although the two-choice rule can be highly effective in this situation, it is best to avoid many of the types of questions that can be answered “yes” or “no”. For example, “Do you want to make an appointment?” makes it far too easy for a caller to say, “No.”
Be Aware of the Language You Use
Compare and contrast these sets of examples:
- “Georgie needs a rabies booster shot” versus “I recommend that Georgie get his rabies booster shot”
- “I’ve fixed your bill” versus “Your bill should be okay now”
- “The doctor plans to call you today to answer that question” versus “The doctor is really busy but will call sometime today when she can”
In each case, the first response is more confident and helpful, while the second one is more wishy-washy. And, in the second two examples, the latter responses can be insulting to clients, perhaps making them feel that they aren’t important to your practice.
Be Knowledgeable, But Not Scripted
Clients and potential clients alike appreciate when the person answering the phone is knowledgeable about schedules, services offered at the practice, and so forth. Having said that, authenticity is what connects people and makes people want to engage with you, so an overly scripted presentation can turn people off.
Here’s another caution: as receptionists gain experience and knowledge, it can be tempting for them to guess what their veterinarians would say, and provide information to callers. Even though experienced team members may be correct with their advice, it’s not wise to provide answers to medical questions without getting the information from the doctor.
For example, a client might call and say his dog is lethargic and doesn’t want to go outside. A receptionist might respond with, “Well, it is pretty cold outside. Maybe you could wait to see how Brutus does tomorrow. I know my dog doesn’t like really cold weather, either.” That receptionist may be exactly right, or Brutus could be having a significant medical problem. If the latter is true, this opens up the practice to legal liability.
Be Friendly but Also Efficient
Friendliness and kindness can play significant roles in obtaining and keeping clients. For example, if you realize that there is no way for you to avoid putting a caller on hold, doing so in an empathetic way will make it much more likely that the caller will understand and be willing to wait, rather than if you sound frazzled or even irritable. This concept will hold true in virtually everything you do at the practice.
Having said that, efficiency is also important for many reasons. First, the person calling in may be busy; second, efficiently handling calls opens up more receptionist time for the next caller.
To help ensure that your practice provides quality telephone service and etiquette, here are four tips:
- When hiring, consider soft “people” skills alongside the more resume-driven ones.
- Thoroughly train people who will answers phones, providing them with solutions to deal with typical challenges that arise.
- Provide enough resources so that receptionists are not forced to hurry. Efficiency is good; hurrying often leads to frazzled employees and dissatisfied clients, as well as potential clients who go to the practice across town.
- Managers and receptionists should communicate whenever a problem arises and work together to brainstorm solutions that work well for everyone involved.
Although no two mission statements are alike (nor should they be), it’s important to regularly audit yours—perhaps when you do your annual policy review, overall—to determine whether or not the statement is still relevant and actually being put into practice. Here is a helpful checklist.
- Is your mission statement still relevant? If not, why not? What needs changed?
- Is your purpose still the same?
- What about your core values?
- Do you offer different products and/or services, ones that have caused your mission statement to need to evolve?
- What makes your business unique? Is that clearly indicated?
- Can your entire team recite your mission statement?
- When you ask each member of the team (or, if at a large company, a sample of them) what the mission statement means, how consistent are the answers?
- How closely do they match what key staff believe the statement to mean?
- If there are gaps, where do they exist? How significant are they?
- In your policy manual, have you included concrete examples of how the mission statement could be put into practice? If not, would that be helpful?
- How do you explicitly communicate your mission statement to your customers or clients?
- Through signs that state it?
- In your website and printed materials?
- In your advertising?
- In company meetings, how often do you discuss the mission statement?
- When your company faces challenges and/or difficult choices, do you consult your mission statement when reviewing possible solutions? How is it your benchmark?
- When you create new policies, do you ensure that they mesh with your mission?
- How often do you review your policy manual to make sure that what’s included dovetails with your mission? As just one gut-check example, how well does your disciplinary policy match your mission statement?
- You can also review the following for matches and mismatches:
- Your organizational chart
- Job descriptions
- Any other employee handbooks or manuals
- Take a look at how you reward employees. Are you rewarding them for phrases contained in your mission statement? If, for example, your statement includes “providing compassionate care,” do you actually reward and promote based on that value, or are your rewards based on how well a person increases revenues or reduces expenses?
- What processes do you have in place for employees to report when they feel that procedures conflict with the mission statement? How are those reports handled?
- What procedures do you have in place to update the mission statement, when needed?
- As you read through this checklist, what items would be important to add or edit to match your business’s unique needs? Who will spearhead that initiative? What is the deadline?
To be successful in the workforce today, and throughout your life, you must successfully engage with people from the beginning to the end of each day. Often, it’s with people whose viewpoints don’t always match your own. And when viewpoints don’t match but you need to resolve the differences, it’s crucial to be able to effectively negotiate with the other parties to create a mutually-agreeable solution.
Quality negotiation skills are vital in situations such as accepting a job offer, asking your boss for a raise or to boost your workplace benefits, or when an organization to which you belong is making decisions that will impact people’s lives.
Traditionally, women have been more reluctant to negotiate than men, which means they have disproportionately suffered from the costs associated with not negotiating. Even today, there is a frequently-noted “confidence gap” between the genders, with one study showing that only 7 percent of women attempted to negotiate their salaries, whereas 57 percent of the men did.
Women are as competent as men in the workforce, with global studies by Goldman Sachs and Columbia University demonstrating that companies employing women actually outperform their competitors on every measure of profitability. So, the issue is confidence, not competency – but, because confidence is a critical component of success, this article will share information about how women can successfully engage and negotiate with others to receive what they deserve.
First, here is a definition of negotiation and why it’s necessary.
Nuts and Bolts of Negotiations
A negotiation is a process in which two or more parties attempt to resolve differing needs and interests through a series of communications. An employer, for example, may want to offer someone higher wages, but needs to consider the overall profitability of a company. Meanwhile, an employee may understand and support the need for a thriving business, but also needs to earn a certain wage to support his or her family.
Employers and employees negotiate because they each have what the other one needs, and they believe they can obtain a better outcome through the process than if they simply accept what the other party is offering. Sometimes, negotiations occur because the status quo is no longer acceptable for one or both parties. Negotiations take finesse because, besides dealing with specific tangible points (wages, insurance benefits and perks, as just three workplace examples), emotions play a part and ongoing relationships are involved. The parties are choosing to try to resolve their different positions through discussions, rather than arguing, or ending the relationship, having one person dominate the relationship or taking the dispute to another party with more authority.
So, here are helpful tips to help you to effectively negotiate for what you deserve.
Six Negotiating Tips for Women
Tip #1 Be Prepared
First, you must clearly define the issues involved and prepare for the negotiations. Be crystal clear about what you want to accomplish, your opening offer, your resistance point (the point at which you would be willing to walk away from the bargaining), and what alternatives you have if the negotiations don’t culminate in a solution that is acceptable to you.
Also, as much as possible, know relevant information about the other party to the negotiation. What is he or she likely to want? Understanding where this person is coming from and what he or she wants to accomplish will help you to manage the negotiation process more effectively.
Tip #2 Be Aware of Fears and Address Them Appropriately
Common negotiating fears include:
- that your position will not be solidly presented
- looking incompetent
- liking people and wanting to make them happy (but perhaps not being able to give them what they want!)/not wanting to affect someone else in a negative way
- worrying about failure
- feeling uncomfortable about talking about money
- aversion to conflict, overall
Sometimes simply recognizing your fears can be enough to put them into context and allow you to move forward. Other times, they point out weaknesses in your preparation – and, in that case, your fears can help you to solidify your research and negotiation approach. Overall, it can help to reframe your wants, focusing on the value they will bring to the other party, and to be prepared to share how your approach can solve the underlying problem of the other party.
Some women must also work on silencing their inner critic, a critic that might be saying how only “bitchy” women negotiate or that you somehow don’t deserve the full benefits of your hard work. Again, you can use these fears to identify places you need to bolster up your attitude and solidify your approach.
Tip #3 Recognize and Optimize Your Negotiation Style
Multiple negotiation styles exist, each on the spectrum of assertiveness and cooperativeness. Here are summaries of common styles:
- Competing (high in assertiveness, low in cooperativeness): these negotiators are self-confident and assertive, focusing on results and the bottom line; they tend to impose their views on others
- Avoiding (low in assertiveness and cooperativeness): these negotiators are passive and avoid conflict whenever possible; they try to remove themselves from negotiations or pass the responsibility to someone else without an honest attempt to resolve the situation
- Collaborating (high in assertiveness and cooperativeness): these negotiators use open and honest communication, searching for creative solutions that work well for both parties, even if the solution is new; this negotiator often offers multiple recommendations for the other party to consider
- Accommodating (low in assertiveness, high in cooperativeness): these negotiators focus on downplaying conflicts and smoothing over differences to maintain relationships; they are most concerned with satisfying the other party
- Compromising (moderate in assertiveness and cooperativeness): these negotiators search for common ground and are willing to meet the other party in the middle; they are usually willing to give and take and find moderate satisfaction acceptable
Simply by recognizing your style, you can highlight your strengths and know where to work on weaknesses. This isn’t to suggest that the process will be quick and easy, but it can be a vital step of the process in helping you get what you deserve on an ongoing basis.
Tip #4 Practice!
Becoming effective at negotiating seldom occurs overnight and it can be helpful to first practice your negotiation skills in areas where the process may not feel as intimidating. These can include negotiations:
- for resources, whether it’s asking for more equipment or to hire more people
- about how to use resources; with a common purpose, solutions can be reverse engineered fairly easily
- where you have expertise
- with big companies where nothing is personal
- where you have evidence to support your position, including facts, data and logical reasoning
Consider practicing what you’ll say in front of a trustworthy friend or colleague, or practice in the mirror. Imagine different scenarios for the upcoming negotiation and prepare how you might answer, doing so by answering out loud (which is quite different from simply running ideas through your head).
As you become more experienced with the process and as you experience some successes, even relatively small ones, this will help you to gain confidence and become better at negotiating, overall. This will then help to prepare you for more challenging or complex bargaining processes.
Tip #5 Fairness is Important
As long as both parties are committed to the relationship and believe there is value in coming to an agreement, negotiations can typically proceed. If one or both parties, though, are unreasonable, uninformed or stubborn – or listening to advisors with those characteristics – negotiations can fall through.
Or, if one party doesn’t necessarily need the deal and/or isn’t in a hurry – or knows that the other party is without other options and/or in a time crunch – then negotiations may not end up being fair in the long run.
You can’t change how fair the other party will be, but you can determine if your own position truly is fair. Don’t use the “gender card” to get your way, as just one example, because fairness and equality should be at the heart of every negotiation. Conversely, don’t accept an unfair agreement just because, for example, you’re tired of negotiating or you don’t think the situation can ultimately be fairly resolved.
Tip #6 Calmly Ask for What You Want
Be calm, be professional. Unfair as it may be, women who are negotiating can be watched especially closely to see if they show signs of emotion, whether anger or excitement. Ask for what you want, be willing to pause to let the other party consider what you said (rather than quickly filling in the silence) and then respond appropriately.
Always keep your pre-established resistance point front of mind. But, having said that, if a granted concession is unexpectedly greater in one area of more complex negotiations, consider if and how you might be willing to adjust your resistance point in another area as part of the overall negotiations.
Understanding Negotiation Terminology
Another way to close the confidence gap is to ensure you understand what negotiation terms mean and can use them – confidently. We’ll use the example of an employer-employee wage negotiation as our example.
Each person will have a target point, which are the wages he or she would like the other party to agree to. The difference between what an employee wants to be paid and the employer wants to pay is the bargaining range. Meanwhile, the resistance point is where a party would walk away from negotiations; if too low of a wage or raise is proposed, an employee may begin job searching or a job candidate may decline an offer; the employer also has a point at which he or she will reject a wage request and end negotiations.
When the buyer (employer) has a resistance point that’s above the seller’s (employee), this situation has a positive bargaining range. The employer, in this case, is willing to pay more than the employee’s minimum requirements, so this situation has a good chance of being satisfactorily resolved. With a negative bargaining range, though, one or both of the parties must change their resistance point(s) for there to be a possibility of resolution.
In a wage negotiation scenario, either the employer will offer a starting wage or raise, or an employee or job candidate will request a certain dollar amount; the first person to name a dollar amount is making the opening offer. If at least one of the parties has a BATNA – best alternative to negotiation agreements – then he or she will probably approach the discussions with more confidence, having another alternative. So, if an employer offers someone a job, but has another excellent candidate waiting in the wings, the employer has another alternative and can set a higher and/or firmer resistance point. Conversely, if an employee or job candidate has a unique set of skills that are especially needed today, that person probably has more options in the job market – perhaps even other pending offers. The quality of a negotiator’s alternatives drives his or her value by providing the power to walk away and/or set a higher and/or firmer resistance point.
Plus, there is more than one type of bargaining style. One way to differentiate them is to divide them into distributive bargaining and integrative bargaining.
In distributive bargaining, parties’ needs and desires are in direct conflict with one another’s, with each party wanting a bigger piece of a fixed tangible such as money or time, so these negotiations are typically competitive. Parties are not concerned with a future relationship with the other person. A slang term for this type of negotiation is “playing hardball” or “one upping” someone. Strategies often include making extreme offers, such as an employer offering a very low wage or a job candidate asking for an exceptionally high one. Tactics include trying to persuade the other party to reconsider his or her resistance point because of the value being offered – in this example, the job candidate might say that a high salary was required because of his or her abilities or an employer could say that lower wages would be compensated by a great work environment.
With integrative bargaining, though, the goal is win-win collaborations that will provide a good opportunity for both parties. The employer would acknowledge the employee’s value and need for a decent wage, and negotiate accordingly, while the employee or job candidate would recognize the value of working at a particular company as well as the fact that the employer has numerous other financial commitments to fulfill. They recognize that they need one another to maximize their respective opportunities and negotiate from a place of trust and integrity, with a positive outlook that recognizes and validates the other party’s interest in the transaction.
Here’s an interesting psychological truth. Negotiators are more satisfied with final outcomes if there is a series of concessions rather than if their first offer is accepted, because they feel they could have done better.
Salary and Benefits Negotiation Tips
When negotiating at a workplace, don’t focus solely on wage or salary. Also discuss benefits offered and workplace perks – meaning the entire package. This can include, but is not limited to, health care coverage, life insurance, retirement programs, vacation time and flextime. If you’re job hunting, investigate what companies are offering. Where do you think the place you’re interviewing falls on that spectrum? What is the minimum pay level that you’re willing to accept? What is your preferred wage? What benefits are important to you?
If you want to work at a particular company, but the pay rate isn’t quite what you want, ask if you can have a salary review in, say, six months. This doesn’t mean accepting a salary that is clearly sub-par, nor does it mean that you should try to put more pressure on a potential employer who is already offering you a good deal. It is simply something to consider in relevant circumstances.
What workplace perks might be desired? Would a company cell phone help you? Better equipment or software? If so, you could consider accepting somewhat lower pay if you get more tools to do your job.
Or, if you have children, you could negotiate coming in half an hour later so that you can take them to school or schedule a lunch break that coincides with when you need to pick them up. If you bring crucial skills to the negotiating table, you’re more likely to get these concessions than if you are entry-level.
If relevant, ask about company policy if you become pregnant. How acceptable is the policy to you? How important of a negotiating point is this for you? What about if you are injured in the workplace? Educate yourself on your workplace rights before negotiations occur, as well as company policy. If you are valuable to the business, perhaps you can negotiate some additional flexibility.
Who should be the first to make an offer? Some experts believe that, if you allow the other party to provide a starting dollar figure, he or she has shown his or her hand. But, research indicates that final figures tend to be closer to the original number stated than what the other party had originally hoped.
What NOT to Do
Beware of “between”! It probably feels reasonable to ask for a certain salary range – or range for a raise. But if you do that with a current or prospective employer, you have basically tipped your hand as far as how low you would go. Using the word “between” is actually a concession!
Another risky term: “I think we’re close.” A savvy negotiator will recognize “deal fatigue” on your end and perhaps stall in the hopes you’ll concede, just to complete the deal.
For Best Results
People tend to feel more confident when negotiations focus on an area of their expertise and/or where solid evidence exists to back them up. Overall, success is achieved when you first:
- Determine the interests of the other party
- Embrace compromise
- Observe the Golden Rule, treating others as you would like to be treated: fairly and reasonably, without defensiveness
- Be prepared, both in factual information and in strategy
Keeping these suggestions in mind will help you to achieve success in all areas of life.