Our top 5 must have's for your EA Negotiation preparation
08 August 2017
Successful negotiators know a bit of preparation goes a long way when it comes to influencing a successful outcome in their EA Negotiations. The act of getting ready, from nailing your strategy to landing your communications approach inspires confidence and enables you to approach bargaining strategically and as effectively as possible so you can get the most out of, let's face it, a pretty difficult process. Imagine being able to face into negotiations knowing you've done all you can to prepare yourself, versus being dragged to the table, in reactive mode, and scrambling to respond to the claims flying at you, let alone salvaging time to think about what the company might want out of its Enterprise Agreement this bargaining round.
So let's dive into our top 5:
1. How will the EA support the company's wider strategic direction/ goals/ mission? It's a vision thing. Start with your Why.
To be able to build an effective EA Negotiation Strategy you need to understand why it is you are pursuing the claims you are, why do you want the changes you are seeking, and are those why's in alignment with your organisation's mission critical goals and vision?
- For example, if your organisation is pursuing an agenda of financial sustainability, it may be that building some accountability for hitting productivity or continuous improvement targets is something you desire to see in the EA, just like savings for achieving a reduction in printing/ paper wastage or targets set around the reduction in annual leave liability might be worth pursuing (as well as a myriad of many other things) as part of your EA bargaining agenda.
- Understand the People and culture direction, what are you hoping to achieve in this space, how will the EA Negotiations progress that? If you are seeking a more agile responsive and adaptable workforce, perhaps you are seeking functional flexibility.
The point being you it's difficult to build where you want to go in your EA negotiations without considering how the bigger picture and the Company's why aligns with that.
2. Benchmarking yourself - Take a look around
Understanding what the bargaining trends are in your industry is important, look at any other issues that are on the horizon that could impact upon your negotiations so you future proof your Enterprise Agreement as much as possible to be able to have the flexibility and speed to adapt accordingly. No one wants an EA that kills your ability to respond to new challenges dead in its tracks whether that be by being able to outsource an inefficient and costly parcel of work or change the way people work.
3. Project plan and timeline
It sure does help to have a plan! A project plan is key to mapping out the critical phases of the EA Negotiation process, including all the activities in your pre-preparation, engagement/ communication stage, commencing negotiations, during negotiations, and concluding negotiations. A timeline is essential so you can begin to understand the timings involved in your EA Negotiation process and begin plotting the critical activities along the way - including giving yourself a buffer zone (ideal) for preparation and planning. For example, when do you actually plan/ hope to kick off EA Negotiations? The first meeting? When do you anticipate that to be? Once you know this you can plan for the issuing of the Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERR) - remember you are expected to commence bargaining within 14 days of issuing the NERR to your staff.
4. Your EA Negotiation Strategy
The EA Negotiation Strategy sets the approach for the EA Negotiations, whereas the Project Plan maps the what (activities), when, and how those are going to be delivered. A non-exhaustive list follows of what you might want to include your EA Negotiation Strategy:
- Consider your mandate - what are the parameters/ objectives for the EA Negotiations, at a high-level what you are seeking to achieve as an outcome? A simplified, streamlined EA, financially sustainable wage outcomes, a greater commitment to continuous improvement, for example?
- Nail the specifics - what are the Company Log of Claims?
- Commercial Considerations and Industry/ Benchmarking data
- SWOT analysis
- Risk Register - maps levels of risk and mitigation strategies
- Operational and Legal Contingencies plan
5. Your Communication & Engagement approach - How to NAIL it!
Having a solid communications approach is often overlooked as part of the enterprise bargaining process, but if you want to keep your hands firmly on the reins of the agenda - nailing this is critical. The reality is that preparing for negotiations starts long before you are sitting at the table to negotiate. It starts with your organisation's relationship with its employees. It's important to realise that the organisational culture permeates the EA Negotiations, employees bring to the negotiation table organisational baggage, a whole lot of history, biases, it’s a pot of crazy sometimes, and as we know there are always some strirers. So after you have nailed your why, and what in your EA Negotiation Strategy, it is worth giving some thought to how you are going to communicate your bargaining proposals in an engaging and persuasive way with your employees.
Want to learn more about the 'how to' of EA Negotiation Strategy and planning? Master your preparation in our Advanced & Strategic Negotiations Masterclass!
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