Your EA Negotiation Strategy - What's your Why? More importantly, how engaged are your employees with it?
10 February 2017
Whilst you can't script in advance exactly how negotiations will actually proceed, we can all agree that having an EA strategy is a must. A strategy becomes your road map to securing better quality EA outcomes. Specifically, those outcomes should ensure your business remains a productive, innovative, and sustainable operation with a highly engaged workforce into the future. A strategy forces you to think about, ideally well in advance of bargaining, the following:
- what you're bringing to the table (what do you want to achieve in this round of bargaining) and….why! Note, this is so much more than simply crafting a "log of claims."
- how you want to do that, and
- how will you participate in the negotiations.
However, before the strategy it's critical to spend some time thinking about the current environment such strategy is going to be executed in, and set yourself up as best you can for success by working on any trouble spots well in advance of the negotiations.
First, connect in with WHY and the bigger picture- it's not only about winning the hearts and minds of employees (although it is!), it's just smart tactics!
You need to think about HOW your EA Negotiation goals align with, or are supportive of, the goals/ objectives with your other business strategies. Connect your strategy in with the bigger picture! A good place to start is looking at those strategies, a strategy relating to one of the most important documents that govern the terms and conditions of the employment of your people (your EA!) cannot be developed in isolation to these strategies! So take a look at:
- Digital Transformation
- The Corporate or Annual Plan?
Look at the short term and the long term goals of these strategies.
Get excited and curious about your businesses operating environment
Look for trends, and how your EA negotiation strategy has to be cognisant of, and responsive to those trends.
Does your EA negotiation goals help or hinder service delivery?
Once you have thought about the strategic goals of your "what" and "why," of your strategy, you are ready to move to the next phase, identifying your:
- primary bargaining objectives (your must have / non-negotiable items); and
- additional bargaining objectives.
We'll tackle that, and how to create a clear compelling, influential narrative around the why of what you are pursuing in your upcoming EA negotiations in forthcoming articles in this series.
Besides, If you start with answering *why* you are looking to achieve what you are looking to achieve this round of bargaining, it will invariably connect back in with business parameters.
How engaged are your workforce with your why?
Once you've determined your narrative or story around your *Why*, time for a stocktake or audit of how well you think those business parameters are understood by your workforce.
Because those business parameters will become bargaining parameters in the forthcoming negotiations.
How engaged are your people in them?
Whist the theatre of bargaining can be a difficult place to authentically story tell, if engagement is lack lustre, that is a poor environment to execute your strategy in. Think about what you can do to gain genuine engagement with employees on the business imperatives well before EA negotiations hit. This could involve a variety of tactics including road shows, working groups that work specifically on a project that might fall out of a wider business strategy (innovation or a people based strategy on achieving functional flexibility or agility in the organisation as a random example), to team talks that speak in non-spin, plain and transparent terms about what is happening and why.
Employees as a baseline need to understand the narrative of where the business is going, and ideally be value adding to that vision every day. Start answering the engagement puzzle and you start to unlock and open up innovation - a critical culture to embed to survive the turbulence of change. You can't stand still in this environment. You can and will get flattened.
What bargaining approach best facilitates the execution of your WHY?
It would be not the highest return on investment in building genuine engagement around business parameters if all that hard work is undermined by a bargaining approach that disengages, baffles and confuses. That is why it is important to take this pre-preparation time to think about how you will participate in bargaining. Will you look at taking elements of a common interest based bargaining approach for example where the bargaining parties start with declarations of their interests instead of putting forward proposals, and work to develop agreements that satisfy common interests and balance opposing interests. Interest-based bargaining is also called integrative or win-win bargaining - more on this approach in a future article. It's important to test whether the business is ready for a radical approach to achieve radical results and outcomes, instead of something that doesn't fit or serve the business.
Finally, once you're ready to craft your EA negotiation Strategy, Don't set and forget, stay open minded and be strategically agile!
Strategic agility itself is the ability to continuously adjust and adapt your strategy and your strategic ambitions for bargaining to changing circumstances. It is the ability to look at innovative ways to achieve your desired EA outcomes, to open your mind to new ideas, and methods. It is pursuing the question of, what would it look like if we looked at it this way, and being alert to opportunities to pivot, and, if need be, renew your strategic objectives at all times.
Planning for an upcoming EA? Have a confidential Free strategy chat with one of our consultants today about how we can help – we are the leaders in IR training in this area and have helped employers large and small, across a diverse range of industries with EA Negotiation Strategy and Development. Partner with us for success!
Nicole Walsh – Consultant – Adelhelm & Associates Pty Ltd
Read Nicole’s Bio here
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