The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M., for distribution to ISM affiliate newsletters. January 2007
More often than not we end up negotiating within our own company. Trying to reach an agreement with the project manager, foreman, CEO and or our boss can be a tough challenge. After all, the boss get to make the decision - right? Unfortunately those 'discussions' can easily become emotional and heated. The Supply Chain manager is raising issues which might not be what the boss wants to hear.
When an internal negotiation degenerates into an argument, the best we can hope for is try and make sure the decision is reached on a rational basis. A cooling off period might help, but it has been my experience that once the boss makes a decision it's hard to get that person to reconsider. Rather than continue the disagreement, an alternate strategy is to focus on the facts. Try approaching it this way, " I'm not disagreeing with you, I just want to make sure we have accurately understood the facts and alternatives." It's not easy, but I think I can remember it working at least once.
When the best interests of the company are on the line, we want to be prepared to do the best job we can of raising the issues and at least giving everyone a chance to make a good decision. I've drafted a few sample questions to keep in mind that might help raise the discussion to a higher level. In previous articles I've suggested that asking the right question and considering personalities can help when negotiating. In this article I'm providing some additional suggestions to help refocus an internal negotiation on the critical facts.
After the cooling off period, instead of restarting the argument, try these questions:
[Personal note: The boss does get to make the decision. It's his/her ship to steer and there make be circumstances or issues we are not privy to. Once you've taken your best shot at influencing the decision, it's over. Get behind it and move forward. If you really think the course of action is illegal or immoral, your alternative is to look elsewhere for employment or become a government whistleblower.]
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