It’s vital to plan for an internal negotiation with your team members before you begin to negotiate with outsiders.
This is a requirement.
This internal negotiation should be as structured and well-planned as the ones outside of your organization.
Let’s say you have an upcoming meeting with a prospect. The account manager has to be on the same page as the sales leader and product manager before meeting with the prospect.
Each team member should be aware of the interests of all internal stakeholders. Then, no one can present any false expectations to the prospect.
You also want to ensure that no one on your team makes a commitment to an outsider that conflicts with what your organization can deliver.
It is crucial to understand the role of internal negotiations in aligning the interests and concerns of your team. These internal agreements lay the foundation upon which the external agreement is built.
And the dynamics at work are more nuanced than they appear.
Problems, Budgets, and Decision-Makers
All valid agreements are based on your ability to solve the ‘real problems’ of your respected opponent. This is also true when you are working with internal members or your company, team, or family.
Before starting an external negotiation, figure out the real problems that each of your internal team members are experiencing. Also, look ahead at the problems your team members will encounter if you do not successfully negotiate an agreement with the external party.
You must also consider the negotiation budget of all your internal team members. How much time, energy, money, and emotion will each team member invest in creating an agreement with the external party? It’s better to know before you start if your internal team does not have the time or interest in creating and implementing any agreement.
Know the decision-making process of your own team. How will decisions be made? Will you require a unanimous or majority vote? Who must say yes, and who can block the final decision? Does everyone on your internal team agree with this decision-making methodology?
If you help others in the negotiation discover and build their own visions, they can begin to make informed decisions.
Often, we don’t treat these internal negotiations as real negotiations. When we don’t impose any system at all, it becomes very haphazard and internal conflicts arise. This haphazardness wreaks havoc on our budgets. This will later tax the external negotiations.
Approaches to Internal Negotiations
Here are three ways to approach your internal negotiations as rigorously and precisely as external negotiations.
1. Treat everyone on your internal team as a respected opponent
Often, internal negotiations take place among friends, family members, and colleagues. Their familiarity makes it harder to imagine them as anything but the person you’ve known over the years. That’s a bias of some sort.
When there is bias, we often find this statement to be true:
We don’t try to build agreements with whom we’re already familiar.
Instead, we may attempt to control by giving orders. Perhaps you’ll say, “Amy, when he says that, I want you to say this.” Sometimes we even plead or manipulate.
As a result, the agreements that result among familiar groups tend to be less profitable, ethical, or stable. That’s why it is crucial to give your teammates the same respect you will provide the third-party negotiators at the next stage.
2. Blank slate
Blank slating is another remedy for the familiarity bias. We think we know our friends, family members, and close colleagues like the backs of our hands. In reality, though, we cannot presume to know what each person wants.
Our assumptions are based on what you think you know about each person or past success. If the way you dealt with someone in the past worked, you’ll be tempted to try it again. But don’t because you’re making an assumption, and assumptions are dangerous.
Instead, we have to let go of biases. We do this by blank slating, which means erasing any assumptions and expectations. Maybe the last time you negotiated with a colleague, their attention was elsewhere. If a sibling was aggressive with you over holiday planning, you might expect this behavior dealing with an inheritance. Forget history and memories. Then, by asking excellent questions, you can discover each team member’s vision.
Since your slate is blank, you have room for taking detailed notes. Besides the distinct advantage of not relying on memory, when you are writing, you aren’t talking. You’ll listen and learn more.
3. Develop your own valid Mission and Purpose
This approach might feel like showing up to a family dinner in formal wear, but a valid Mission and Purpose guides decision-making. Develop an M&P for each person on your internal team.
Developing these M&Ps for internal discussions will help you shift into the mindset that you are negotiating. The M&Ps should be rooted in their world, not yours.
The Camp System requires that a valid M&P be in place at the internal negotiation stage. After your M&P is in place for the internal negotiations, your preparation, execution, and debriefing will naturally follow. Then, you will be ready to proceed with external negotiations.