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Negotiating to manage Conflicts

We each must deal with conflict in our personal lives and organizational activities.
Conflict involves a disagreement about the allocation of scarce resources or a clash of
goals, statuses, values, perceptions or personalities. Much of the conflict we experience
arises from our communication of our wants needs and values to others. Sometimes we
communicate clearly, but others have differing needs. Sometimes we communicate
poorly, and conflict emerges because others misunderstand us. Managers can of course,
use dominance and suppression in handling conflicts with employees. But negotiation can
help us manage conflicts of all types in a more effective and mutually satisfying way.
egotiation is a process by which two parties interact, through various communications
channels, to resolve a conflict !ointly.
egotiation is a very important communication process. "t is part of every manager#s !ob
$ as an interpersonal role, per Mintzberg#s categories. egotiations are perhaps most
visible in the context of labor management relations. %ater in this article we cite a number
of examples ta&en from the context of labor management relations in the 'nited States
today.
(aily life offers countless examples of negotiation. We negotiate with a car dealer to buy
a car. We negotiate with friends about which recreational activities to pursue. We
negotiate with our boss about wor&ing hours and conditions. )op ran&ing managers
negotiate with Wall Street analysts over earnings expectations, with union leaders over
contract provisions with environmentalists over the *best+ way to prevent or clean up
pollution and with employees over particular wor& assignments. ,ll these *negotiation
situations+ are defined by three characteristics.
-. )here is a conflict of interest between two or more parties. that is, what one wants is
not necessarily what the other one wants.
/. 0ither there is no fixed or established set of rules or procedures for resolving the
conflict, or the parties prefer to wor& outside of a set of rules and procedures to invent
their own solution to the conflict.
1. )he parties, at least for the moment, prefer to search for agreement rather than to fight
openly to have one side capitulate, to brea& off contact permanently or to ta&e their
dispute to a higher authority for resolution.
Many factors are important to successful negotiating as shown. )he actual negotiation
process $ the series of offers and counteroffers that we thin& of as the heart of the
negotiation depends on2 3-4 whether the parties see their interest as depending on each
other 3regardless of whether they actually do or not4. 3/4 the extent of trust or distrust
between the parties. 314 each party#s ability to communicate clearly and to persuade or
coerce the other party to accept its point of view. 354 the personalities and idiosyncrasies
of the actual people involved. and 364 the goals and interests of the parties.
egotiation is a complex communication process, all the more so when one round of
negotiations is !ust an episode in a longer term relationship. Such is often the case in
labor management relations. 7reparation is a &ey concern for the negotiator. )hat
preparation should include a review of the history of previous negotiating sessions and
pervious negotiated outcomes. )he negotiator ris&s a great deal if he or she acts as if
history is unimportant to the other party. )his entanglement of relationships and time in
the negotiating process is clear in the guidelines offered by 8eed 8ichardson for
conducting negotiations.
ot too, how often the value of planning is implied in the list of guidelines.
9rganizational strategies and functional plans serve as standards and thresholds that set
limits on what a negotiator should and should not do.
Team work - The new Organizational Paradigm
)he old paradigm or model of organizational structure was based on the assumptions of
hierarchy $ that top leadership &nows all the answers and is in charge of the goals and
wor& processes for the organization. )he merging team paradigm, on the other hand, is
constructed on new assumptions:that &nowledge and therefore insight and answers are
found throughout the organization in the abilities and &now how of all organizational
members when brought together in teams. "n this model goals are mutually determined
and wor& processes are built around teams of experts.
;or example, to prepare for the twenty first century, C09 <ac& Welch is trying to build a
boundary less organization at =0. >e is wor&ing to eliminate barriers within the business,
such as those created by the functional groups most hierarchies are constructed around
such as mar&eting, production, human resources, and engineering. )o bring creativity,
wor& processes and &nowledge together, =0 has introduced cross functional teams,
pro!ect teams and partnerships. =0 is also brea&ing down the barriers between the
company and its environment by creating alliances with others and building teams with
customers and suppliers.
With the organizational environment li&ely to remain unstable and turbulent the
flexibility and adaptability created by teams is a significant advantage. "n fact, )om
7eters and many others predict that teamwor& will replace hierarchy as the dominant
form of organization in the twenty first century. ,ccording to ;ortune magazine, 7eters
;uturists such as ,lvin )offler and C09s li&e ,llied Signal#s %awrence Bossidy all agree
that *the demise of the old authoritarian hierarchies+, from the 'SS8 to =eneral Motors,
is a global, historical phenomenon that none can evade. %i&e it or not, everyone who
wor&s for a living in helping create a new relationship between individual and
corporation, and a new sense of employer and employee.
,s envisioned by 7eters, businesses of the future will be organized somewhat li&e a
movie production company. )eams of specialists will come together for a specific pro!ect
and then move on into other teams in the same or other organizations. ?ey to the success
of this approach is the understanding that managers must share both power and
responsibility with teams of people who were once disempowered by the rigid
bureaucratic lines of authority.
)he downsizing of many corporations, creating flatter organizations with fewer middle
managers available to manage in the traditional hierarchical manner, has forced
organizations to more fully empower organization members into the teams. )he emphasis
will be on people s&ills. 0ven those managers designated leaders will need to learn how
to follow the team2 , team is not li&e a pac& of sledge dogs, with one dog as the leader. "t
is more li&e a flight of wild geese2 )he leader always changes, but they fly in a floc&.
)he team phenomenon is particularly suited to the era of information technology and
globalization. "nformation highways and networ&s connect teams from all over the
continent and the globe, facilitating the exchange of information and creative ideas.
=lobal alliances create new opportunities to use multinational teams to develop
cooperation and creative exchange. =lobal alliances will seem li&e *standard operating
procedure+ in the next century as multinational teams create new ventures for an exciting
future.
'n@commonsense ;indings ,bout teams2
-. Companies with strong performance standards seem to spawn more *real teams+ than
companies that promote teams per se
/. >igh@performance teams are extremely rare.
1. >ierarchy and teams go together almost as well as teams and performance
5. )eams naturally integrate performance and learning.
6. )eams are the primary unit of performance for increasing members of organizations.
Paternalism to valuing employee initiative
)he reengineering effort at >allmar& also involved a change in the way people relate to
one another in other words, a change in their organizational culture.
'ntil recently, the culture at >allmar& was one of paternalism, according to observer
?aren Matthes. >oc&aday explains that the guiding principle was one that actually stifled
employee initiative2 We &now what#s best. do as you#re told. you#ll be well ta&en care of.
)his attitude has changed though and is continuing to change.
>allmar& management has a history of treating employment well, and is maintaining that
part of the culture. ;or example management has demonstrated its commitment to its
employees through employee profit sharing and ownership. >allmar& always has had a
strong employee relations focus and has offered progressive benefits, said Marilyn ?ing,
>allmar&#s manager of wor& and family services2 " have not had to convince top
management 3to offer a benefit4. the support was already there.
What has changed, however, has been the perception of the value of employees as
individuals. >allmar& management now recognizes that employee can offer valuable
input and have innumerable contributions to ma&e. We want to strengthen the service to
our customers, our employees said <erry ?enefa&e, >allmar&#s director of compensation
and benefits.
,n increased emphasis on internal communication has paralleled >allmar&#s cultural
change. )he greater the number of >allmar&ers who &now the issues, the more li&ely it
will be that we can address those issues successfully.
;ormal publications help &eep employees up to date with what is going on at the
company. oon ews, hallmar&#s daily newsletter &ept employees abreast of happenings
for 1A years. "n addition, Crown, a bi@monthly magazine for employee, and (irectors, a
newsletter for managers, &eep employees in touch with products and company
performance, explain new benefits and relate what#s going on with employee around the
company.
"n addition these publications are becoming more business focused. ;or example, oon
featured an account of an employee who had been able to ta&e advantage of the
company#s tuition reimbursement program to pursue a graduate degree. 0ach year, one
issue of Crown serves as an employee annual report, containing the information that an
annual report would provide for the public if >allmar& were a public company.
We are in the business of recognizing the importance of relationships between people,
said >oc&aday. >allmar& management &eeps demonstrating an understanding of the
importance of relationships between employees and the company management. We see
this in new efforts to enhance two way communication. ;or example the Benefits %ine
3&nown informally as B@line4 offers an easy confidential way for employees to as&
Buestions about their benefits and to ma&e changes in some of their accounts introduced
in ovember -CC/ it was expanded in ;ebruary -CC1, with the introduction of the
hallmar& benefits service center.
7erhaps most important in all this is >oc&aday#s support. "n this continuing effort to &eep
in touch, he invites employees to share meals with him. >e is learning all &inds of things
about the company he never &new said author 8obert %evering. >e is astonished at the
Buality of the information structure. 0mployees receive honest, straight forward
communication from management and wor& with management in cohesive teams that
communicate openly and often.
,t the ,rgon =roup, a full service real estate management firm based in Calgary, ,lberta,
formal and informal channels of communication proved important when the company
decided to consolidate the operations of three subsidiaries into one. ,rgon developed a
three stage corporate communications strategy with the help of a communications
consultant. Stage one included the development and design of a new corporate identify,
including such things as name, logo, and stationary. Stage two included the introduction
of the new corporate identity to relevant internal and external audiences. ,nd stage three
dealt with the ongoing communications process of promoting and solidifying the new
corporate identity. )o reinforce its identity, ,rgon also developed a corporate
identification manual for internal and external use.
Ideas developed must be eecuted
)here is a very good maxim about creativity in advertising and that is, it#s DEF idea. But
it#s also DEF execution. What this contradictory statement is telling us is, ideas and
executions can#t exist without each other. ,n idea is only as good as the way it has been
expressed. ,nd this is where execution is fundamentally important.
)he need to craft an idea so it#s expressed with clarity and power, is as important as the
idea itself. Creating ideas that connect with people isn#t only to be found in the power of
the idea2 it#s also in the manner of its telling.
Why does one idea wor& better than anotherG Why does a seemingly obvious idea end up
being more powerful than one that at first seems more profoundG )his, of course, is a
debate that will always exist. But one thing that gets over loo&ed in this debate is the
philosophical intent of an idea. Crafting a great idea is not !ust about selecting the right
type face or layout or engaging the most expensive director.
"t#s about understanding the philosophical forces that drive a concept. We more often
refer to it as, the H)one of Ioice# but, it goes deeper than that. When a great writer, painter
or director tal&s about their wor&, they more often than not, tal& about the philosophical
forces that drive their thin&ing. "t is that, which empowers their creative decision ma&ing
process. ,nd so it is for managers in advertising.
When an ad man comes to craft an idea, the means by which he does so not only captures
the viewer#s attention, but also enhances the idea itself. , piece of communication needs
to have its idea running throughout. it#s not !ust the clever way the headline is written, but
in the design of the typography and its imagery, too.
0verything about the execution needs to have a reason. )hat is the function of crafting.
)o understand what drives the idea. But what ma&es one piece of wor& greater than
anotherG Why do some ideas stand the test of time while others date and soon loo&
clumsyG
)he truth of that is loc&ed into the power of the concept itself, li&e it must be fresh,
profound and simple or appropriate. But an idea does not exist in a vacuum. "t has to be
expressed. "t has to exist somewhere so we can en!oy it and share it. ,nd this is where
craft and execution elevate the status of the idea. ,nd turn good into great.
)ime of course is creativity#s greatest critic and sometimes it#s instructive to loo& bac&, to
try and understand what separates great from !ust good. But as our wor& increasingly
lives in a multitude of evolving media platforms it#s essential we also loo& ahead. We
must appreciate how ideas move from one medium to another and yet stay consistent, all
the while understanding how to create a genuine bond between the execution and the
consumer.
What mar&s a campaign as great is when it is crafted with a complete understanding of its
purpose and what it is about its idea that will ma&e it stand out. 0ach element needs to
compliment the next, creating an experience that stands the test of time.
)here is a seamlessness between creation and execution. ,part from an ad#s commercial
success and therefore effectiveness, greatness is found in its existence as a body of wor&
that employed the aforementioned principles and that elevates good to outstanding.
)o really do this, we have to understand the philosophical forces that drive our ideas and
their execution.
the 7ower of "deas
"deas are everywhere, they are omnipresent but it ta&es practice to develop an idea.
,nybody can get a good idea but whether it#s a big idea is not &nown. , good idea is li&e
a diamond, which has to be polished continuously, to give it the right shine and to ma&e it
shine from every angle. When the idea goes out there, it should loo& its best, !ust li&e the
diamond loo&s its best in the showroom and to ma&e an idea the best is a challenge.
When someone is suggesting an idea, hear it patiently and attentively : never confuse
him or the idea he has may be lost. >ear the idea as it is, nurture it and something that
appeared li&e a good idea in the beginning with the right amount of polishing could
become a big idea.
8espect every idea, shape the idea, implement it and choose a way of expressing it in a
way that shows it in the best light. "t is very important to encourage people, because only
when a person is unafraid to thin& of ideas he can dream big. "f there is lac& of
encouragement, then young people may fear voicing their ideas and the fear of un&nown
may result in many ideas not seeing the light of day.
)he world is full of ideas, they are everywhere. ,n idea which has ta&en this form today.
mobile phones, i7ods, the internet are all big ideas. )hey probably started as a germ of an
idea in somebody#s head, someone pursued it, improved upon it and now it is in front of
us in its best form. "f it wasn#t for ideas then life would have been the same over the
centuries. We would still have been living li&e the people bac& in the -5th century.
,t least right now we have no fear of expressing our ideas, but people in the past would
get &illed or butchered for their ideas. )here is no such fear now. =ood ideas are
everywhere, they !ust need to be spotted and polished to ma&e it a great idea.