Most of us have bought houses, cars, and other things that require some type of negotiating.  One thing for sure - no one likes to do it, it can be uncomfortable, and most of all, it could lead to an outcome you did not expect.  On another note, when you are at the table with more than two people, most likely alliances will form.  So, how does one prepare and navigate through the negotiating process with confidence and ease?

Before we move forward, we must understand what negotiating is all about.  Negotiation is when people compromise, settle differences or a consensus is reached while avoiding a disagreement.  The ultimate goal of negotiating is to achieve the best possible outcome.  In this instance, we want to see SCSEP thriving in a larger workforce development system.  However, there are some important principles when negotiating that should be followed - fairness, seeking a shared benefit and maintaining a good working relationship.  These areas serve as the foundation to build upon.   Always remember, negotiating is an acquired skill – it must be practiced, practiced and practiced repeatedly.

So, when you read TEGL 17-16, did your antennas go up?  Did you understand the amount of negotiation that had to be done with the American Job Center (AJC)? With partners? With yourself and your management team?  The bottom line is - negotiating will be a part of the workforce development world and is here to stay.

Rest assured, there is a method to the madness when negotiating.  The stages of negotiation will help you achieve a “desirable” outcome or a result you may not like but can work with.  The key is to have an organized approach that is flexible to use.  Now, even before you go to the table, take the time to do your research - know your partners, your standards, and your options. Take the time to learn about your AJC - its values, mission, strategic plan, and interests.  This certainly can help you assess their strengths and areas of improvement to give you some direction how to navigate through the “negotiating zone.”

Now that you have sized up your partners, there are steps you can follow to negotiate with confidence and clarity. Here are some rules of engagement when it’s time to sit at the table:

  • Prepare in advance – Gather all of your relevant information about how you can contribute to the AJC operations and the appropriate categories they fit in (i.e., cash contribution).  Make sure you have a copy of TEGL 17-16 with you as a reference.
  • Review the goals – This is the time to make sure all partners are on the same page about the development of the IFA and identify the contributions of each required partner.
  • Discussion – Explain your proposal of how your SCSEP program will contribute to the IFA.  Take notes about the feedback you receive and respond. Remember to listen, ask questions  and keep an open mind too!
  • Encourage the ”buy in” -   Make it your mission to have all partners feel they have gained something positive through the IFA negotiation regarding SCSEP. Help make all points of view considered and promote “buy in.”
  • Agreement – You made it!  You and the partners have agreed on your SCSEP contributions to the IFA. It may have taken a number of meetings but you were successful.  Make sure you review all drafts leading to the development of the final copy of the MOU/IFA  for your records.
  • Execution – Although the AJC is the lead, do your part to ensure the contributions you committed to are fulfilled in a timely manner.  Keep your word and uphold your commitment!

So, how do you feel about negotiation?  Chime in and let’s help each other be successful with the IFA process.