Negotiations take place everyday within the business arena. They are the foundation of conducting business between two parties; and they take many forms, ranging from simple to highly emotional and complex. When negotiations involve the very means to feeding one family, i.e. jobs, emotions can easily cloud good moral judgments. Complex issues, on the other hand, can include. Most everyone states that they abide by some set of ethical standards. However, it is how we perform when faced with opposition that is less than ethical, that establishes who we really are. The following is an example of how I would handle negotiations with the other party who is less that ethical.
As CEO and owner of my machine shop, I have always lived by the golden rule of treating others as I would want to be treated. I have maintained an open-door policy with my 30+ employees. Those employees have a union, and the union representative and I have always come to mutual agreements without confrontations in past negotiations. Recently, economic recession has hurt business, my accountant has informed me that we are going broke and drastic measures must be taken to keep the business operating. The overall goal is that expenses have to be shaved. It appears as either employees will be laid-off or wages and health care expenses will have to be cut. Negotiations with the Union have started to get emotional and hostile.
As a wise manager, rather than get consumed with the negative, I will take a step back and try to understand why the Union is so upset, and predict how they will act. The answer is obvious; their means for supporting their members’ families is uncertain. I can only imagine the level of stress that they are dealing with. When the human mind is faced with a stress, in this case the idea of losing their jobs, it has been documented that a predictable cycle shall follow. This cycle is known as The Five Stages of Grief, (B. Butler 1994), which are; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I foresee that future negotiations will follow this pattern. Our first meeting, was their initial shock, probably followed by denial. The second meeting was filled with obvious anger. So with this cycle in mind, I will maintain my principles of staying ethical and wait it out.
In order for me to predict the actions of the Union, I must first recognize their strengths, and weaknesses. Their strength comes with their unity in numbers, and the fact that they are responsible for the personnel that turns out good service and products. The union knows this, and they know I know it. I can foresee that deception and lies will be a big part of their tactics. They probably will threaten to strike, totally shutting down production. I am sure that they will blame me for the hard times, resulting in personal attacks. These attacks may take the form of tactics known as; Weakening the Opponent, and Strengthening one’s own Position. The union will attempt...