Dominate your next negotiation

Everything you don’t have, someone else owns it.

And when you own something, you rarely part with it easily. This is where negotiations begin. Whether it is service, product or time, we all go through negotiation to acquire any resource. We negotiate for everything we do, even when we pay the sticker price.

Before we start, it is important to understand what negotiation is. “Negotiation is a dialogue intended to resolve disputes, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, or to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests. It is the primary method of alternative dispute resolution.”

Since we do it so often, why are we not good at it? There are multiple hypotheses’: we don’t realize we are negotiating until we are half way through, we are impatient, we don’t like conflict, or we are greedy. Although, the true reason we are not great at negotiation is that we don’t plan.Read more

Are Digital Mediums Making Communication Worse?

Sitting down at the dinner table with my son preparing for his pending spelling test sparked a debate in our house. “Dad, my iPod and computer have spell check, so why do I need to learn this.” With great confidence I answered, “… because not every application has spell check”. After a glare he got back to the task at hand. Later that night, the question hung in my head and I started to think about what spelling is. I concluded: spelling is a standardization of the way we communicate in written word. The reason for learning spelling is to make one a better communicator.

Twitter, chat and texting are throwing grammar and spelling out the window, yet our kids can communicate and plan their lives with ease. Even in emails we use the term ‘LOL’ and everyone knows what we are saying. Digital communication seems to be less about spelling and more about understanding each other clearly. The most searched words at the web site are effect and affect, obviously not for spelling but for definition. With more ways to communicate than ever before, are our relationships any better?Read more

Do you know what motivates your staff?

Most people in the technology industry are generally considered smart, and highly skilled in math, logic and problem solving. However, thesehighly developed technical skills usually come at the expense of their interpersonal skills. IT managers are not immune to this imbalance and spend little time trying to improve these underdeveloped skills. Making matters worse, we recognize and promote based on results and reward for performance. The consequence is that managers spend 95% of their time focusing on measurable items and pay little attention to the emotions of their staff. This is not because managers don’t like people or don’t care, but because few of them have an idea of what employees really want from a boss.

“But that warm fuzzy is what HR does. I do delivery,” is the common retort.  True, but employees do not leave a job because HR did not give them enough hugs. The old adage holds true; people join companies but leave managers. Surveys show individuals quit for 5 main reasons: pay, management, career advancement, benefits and other. Many of these can be influenced by management. We can reduce turnover simply by understanding your staff’s desires.

The following CIO letter will shed some light on what matters most to workers.  The results from a survey of 500 employees by the Lore International Institute over a 2 year period shows some interesting insight and some pretty basic things we can all improve on.  Here are the findings:Read more

10 Deadly Interview Questions

If you are like most managers, interviewing is not your favourite task in the world. As a result, many managers avoid the topic. Yet, for something people dislike so much, it is one of the most important tasks a manager must execute. Hiring great people is critical to a company’s success. In a survey, Grant Thornton reviewed 1000 companies in the UK and found companies with the highest growth placed ‘having the best people’ as the most important factor contributing to their company’s growth.

Even more surprising is that in another study, only 8% of corporations in the US have any formal interview training program for hiring managers. When was the last time you had interview training from HR?  Since hiring is a task that comes around infrequently, once or twice every six months for most managers, there is little motivation to invest the time in training.

In absence of formal training the one thing we suggest you can do to improve your interviewing skill is: prepare. Spend 15 minutes before the meeting reviewing the job description, jotting down some questions to ask, and think about what information you need that is not in the resume. Interviewing can be easier than you think but like every successful meeting, it all starts with a well orchestrated plan. And if nothing else, please at least read the resume before the interview.Read more

Improving staff productivity without money or torture

Over the last decade, worker productivity in Canada relative to the US has fallen from 90% of US rates during the 80’s to only 75% of that of the US. And this drop was before the advent of Facebook.  The easiest conclusion is that our employees are just producing less than our US counterparts, yet on the surface, no one in Canada believes our employees don’t work as hard. Why is this the case? No one really understands the problem, never mind how to find a solution. If we put 10 economists in a room to debate this issue, we would end up with countless different answers to countless different problems.

Every CEO talks about increasing productivity but just what the heck is it?  Most professors and economists use this basic formula to measure productivity:

Productivity = Real Value of the Output/Total labour input

Improving productivity is achieved by either increasing value of the output or by decreasing the total labour input. But it is easier said than done. One of the ways to do this is have your staff working at their optimum performance or peak performance. Many studies have been conducted in this subject.Read more