I recently presented at a state seminar on the importance of team building in negotiations. As a lead negotiator, I have had my share of team harmony and team dysfunction (yes, that happens!). But it is through learning from these experiences that I have been able to keep my team engaged and get the best outcome for my client or employer.
Your team will represent different departments, skill sets and job functions and, without a doubt, different points of view. Most took different paths to get to their positions. Knowing this information is essential for you to better understand how to get the best out of your team. And add to that challenge that you rarely get to pick your team.
So what are the three keys to getting the best out of your team when going to the table or negotiating a complex deal?
Build and align a strong team.
Explain how each person has an important role and what their strengths are.
Share information and seek input in developing proposals.
make sure decision makers are part of the team and each knows their role.
People the other side trusts should be on the team.
Explain we cannot have individual agendas - we are now a team and accomplish more collectively than individually.
Clarify team goals and work to build unit with a shared strategy.
Educate the team.
Some may have been to the table before; for others, this may be their first time. The team needs to knows what to realistically expect in the process. Sometimes this can come from the ground rules; other times, this deals with helping them understand the right behaviors.
Patience is not just a virtue, but a necessity in getting the right deal.
You can't always rush a good discussion or dialogue if you want all the information.
Active listening can't be stressed enough. Don't respond until the other side has finished their thought.
Ask for clarification if you don't understand. Often, you will find out valuable or key information for making a better decision.
Do not negotiate against yourself. Sounds easy, right? But people get excited and/or anxious and will blurt out in an effort to achieve an agreement.
Don't underestimate the value of role-playing and rehearsals for your team.
Manage egos and emotions. Have a plan for handling the following issues:
Handling a key absence.
Communicating in and out of negotiations.
Displaying the right behavior - verbal/non-verbal/body language/tone.
Undermining one another/having competitive motives.
By building and aligning, educating, and managing your team, you will find greater success in achieving a better negotiated outcome.