Skill no. 15: Negotiating

Negotiating is another interpersonal skill that managers use. For instance, they may have to negotiate salaries for incoming employees, negotiate for resources from their managers, work out differences with associates, or resolve conflicts with subordinates. Negotiation is a process of bargaining in which two or more parties who have different preferences must make joint decisions and come to an agreement.

You can be more effective at negotiating if you use the following six recommended behaviors:

Research the individual with whom you will be negotiating

Acquire as much information as you can about the person with whom you’ll be negotiating. What are this individual’s interests and goals? Understanding this person’s position will help you to better understand his or her behavior, predict his or her responses to your offers, and frame solutions in terms of his or her interests.

Begin with a positive overture

Research shows that concessions tend to be reciprocated and lead to agreements. Therefore, begin bargaining with a positive overture and then reciprocate the other party’s concessions.

Address problems, not personalities

Concentrate on the negotiation issues, not on the personal characteristics of the individual with who you’re negotiating. When negotiations get tough, avoid tendency to attack this person. Remember it’s that person’s ideas or position that you disagree with, not him or her personally.

Pay little attention to initial offers

Treat an initial offer as merely a point of departure. Everyone must have an initial position. Such positions tend to be extreme and idealistic. Treat them as such.

Emphasize win-win solutions

If conditions are supportive, look for an integrative solution. Frame options in terms of the other party’s interests and look for solutions that can allow this person, as well as yourself, to declare a victory.

Create an open and trusting climate

Skilled negotiators are better listeners, ask more questions, focus their arguments more directly, are less defensive, and have learned to avoid words or phrases that can irritate the person with whom they’re negotiating (such as “generous offer,” “fair price,” or “reasonable arrangement”). In other words, they are better at creating the open and trusting climate that is necessary for reaching a win-win settlement.

Skill no. 7: Delegating

Managers get things done through other people. Because there are limits to any manager’s time and knowledge, effective managers need to understand how to delegate. Delegation is the assignment of authority to another person to carry out specific duties. It allows an employee to make decisions. Delegation should not be confused with participation. In participative decision making, there’s a sharing of authority. In delegation, employees make decision by themselves.

A number of actions differentiate the effective delegator from the ineffective delegator. There are five behaviors that effective delegators will use.

  • Clarify the assignment

Determine what is to be delegated and to whom. You need to identify the person who’s most capable of doing the task and then determine whether or not s/he has the time and motivation to do the task. If you have a willing and able employee, it’s your responsibility to provide clear information on what is being delegated, the results you expect, and any time or performance expectations you may have. Unless there’s an overriding need to adhere to specific methods, you should delegate only the results expected, but let the employee decide the best way to complete the task.

  • Specify the employee’s range of discretion

Every situation of delegation comes with constraints. Although you’re delegating to an employee the authority to perform some task or tasks, you’re not delegating unlimited authority. You are delegating authority to act on certain issues within certain parameters. You need to specify what those parameters are so that employees know, without any doubt, the range of discretion.

  • Allow the employee to participate

One of the best ways to decide how much authority will be necessary to accomplish a task is to allow the employee who will be held accountable for that task to participate in that decision. Be aware, however, that allowing employees to participate can present its own set of potential problems as a result of employees’ self-interests and biases in evaluating their own abilities.

  • Inform others that delegation has occurred

Delegation shouldn’t take place behind the scenes. Not only do the manager and employee need to know specifically what has been delegated and how much authority has been given, but so does anyone else who’s likely to be affected by the employee’s decisions and actions. This includes people inside and outside the organization. Essentially, you need to communicate what has been delegated (the task and amount of authority) and to whom.

  • Establish feedback channels

To delegate without establishing feedback controls is inviting problems. The establishment of controls to monitor the employee’s performance increases the likelihood that important problems will be identified and that the task will be completed on time and to the desired specifications. Ideally, these controls should be determined at the time of the initial assignment. Agree on a specific time for the completion of the task and then set progress dates when the employee will report back on how well he or she is doing and any major problems that may have arisen. These controls can be supplemented with periodic checks to ensure that authority guidelines aren’t being abused, organizational policies are being followed, proper procedures are being met, and the like.

Skill no. 3: Budgeting

Managers do not have unlimited resources to do their jobs. Most managers will have to deal with a budget, a numerical plan for allocating resources to specific activities. As planning tools, they indicate what activities are important and how many resources should be allocated to each activity. However, budgets aren’t used just in planning. They are also used in controlling. As control tools, budgets provide managers with quantitative standards against which to measure and compare resource consumption. By pointing out deviations between standard and actual consumption, managers can use the budget for control purposes.

You can develop your skills at budgeting if you use the following seven suggestions.

  • Determine which work activities are going to be pursued during the coming time period

An organization’s work activities are a result of the goals that have been established. Your control over which work activities your unit will be pursuing during a specific time period will depend on how much control you normally exercise over the work that must be done in order to meet those goals. In addition, the amount of control you have often depends on your managerial level in the organization.

  • Decide which resources will be necessary to accomplish the desired work activities

Although there are different types of budgets used for allocating resources, the most common ones involve monetary resources. However, you also may have to budget time, space, material resources, human resources, capacity utilization, or units of production.

  • Gather cost information

You’ll need accurate cost estimates of those resources you need. Old budgets may be of some help, but you’ll also want to talk with your manager, colleagues, and key employees, and to use other contacts you have developed inside and outside your organization.

  • Once you know which resources will be available to you, assign the resources as needed to accomplish the desired work activities

In many organizations, managers are given a monthly, quarterly, or annual budget to work with. The budget will detail which resources are available during the time period. As the manager, you have to assign the resources in an efficient and effective manner to ensure that your unit goals are met.

  • It’s wise to review the budget periodically

Don’t wait until the end of the time period to monitor whether you’re over or under budget.

  • Take action if you are not within your budget

Remember that a budget also serves as a control tool. If resources are being consumed more quickly than budgeted, you may need to determine why and take corrective action.

  • Use past experience as a guide when developing your budget for the next time period

Although every budgeted time period will be different, it is possible to use past experiences to pinpoint trends and potential problems. This knowledge can help you prepare for any circumstances that may arise.

21 Management Skills (Intro)

Going through this blog means learning about, practicing, and reinforcing specific management skills. Here are 21 skills that encompass the 4 functions of management: Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling. They are:

  1. Acquiring power
  2. Active listening
  3. Budgeting
  4. Choosing an effective leadership style
  5. Coaching
  6. Creating effective teams
  7. Delegating (empowerment)
  8. Designing motivating jobs
  9. Developing trust
  10. Disciplining
  11. Interviewing
  12. Managing conflict
  13. Managing resistance to change
  14. Mentoring
  15. Negotiating
  16. Providing feedback
  17. Reading an organization’s culture
  18. Scanning the environment
  19. Setting goals
  20. Solving problems creatively
  21. Valuing diversity

Source: Taken from Management (Pearson Hall Publications)