We are already familiar with the story of having to convince someone about digital transformation: you found a fast, cheap and efficient solution for your factory, you left the last project meeting excited, but you still don’t know how to persuade your boss. The ROI is positive, he can take a lot of benefits from it, so can you, and the company will win. But you can’t make him/her jump in.
It can be frustrating to go through a situation like the one above. But the idea of this article is to help you implement something new by convincing your boss of how important it is for everyone. And that’s the first tip: everyone needs to realize that they are winning.
First of all: it’s all about negotiation
Like it or not, you are a negotiator. Negotiation is a fact of life. These two sentences open one of the most important and best-selling books on the art of negotiating, “Getting to Yes” (Penguin Books), by authors William L. Ury, Roger Fisher.
If we are all the time making agreements and resolving conflicts of interest in our lives, it is also true that, in a negotiation, the road between “no” and “yes” can be long and winding and leave many people with a chill in their stomachs just thinking about it.
Generally, negotiating with the boss is the one that takes most of the professionals’ sleep away. The question is: how to negotiate with the manager without getting into a tight skirt? The answer to this question invariably goes through a good strategy and a flexible and open posture, according to specialists.
Check out five strategic tips to succeed in a negotiation with the boss and increase your chances of hearing the much-dreamed-of “yes:
Offer a counterpart
For coach Marie-Josette Brauer, the best way to negotiate something with the manager is to enter into an agreement from a process of persuasion and not manipulation.
“This means being able to persuade the other person that it would be good to get what you want and, in return, offer a quid pro quo,” says Marie-Josette. This is the classic negotiation theory called “win-win,” meaning that both parties achieve their goals by coming to an agreement, leaving the table with positive feelings.
“You always have to give something in return, one way or another. Otherwise, the person will feel manipulated,” says Marie-Josette. For example, you need to leave early to pick up a child or nephew from school but, with the volume of work that day, you know the chances of getting away early are slim.
Master your numbers!!!
There are two questions on your boss’s mind at this moment. He may not tell you what they are, but I will. When you present a new idea, two questions arise: How much will it cost, and how much will it deliver? An effective presentation needs to be clear on these two questions. Do you have your numbers? Okay, keep them in mind. You won’t start with them, but you will need them later.
An article by Cris Westfal, from Forbes, brings a basic and practical tip: The simplest message is the strongest. Don’t over-plan. If you go and say, “I think we need a new 20,000 square foot warehouse in Hoboken,” your attention to detail will just be an invitation for an argument. Why 20,000 and not 10, or 30? That is what your boss is wondering. And then you are surprised with questions about which location in New Jersey is really better. It is better to be simple: “I would like to talk to you about some ideas for the location of the new warehouse, I think New Jersey might be perfect for us. Can I share what I’m researching?” That simple question opens up the dialogue. Coming up with all the answers is a fast track to disagreement, especially if you are convinced you are the subject matter expert. Don’t invite your boss into a wrestling match over the merits of Hoboken. There is a much stronger form of approach you can take.
Last but not least: show benchmarking figures! People love to check how they are doing in comparison with competitors.
Understand your boss’s interests
For partners at the consulting firm Ingouville, Nelson & Assoc., Francisco Ingouville, and Julián Lichmann, the best way to hear a yes from your boss is to put on his shoes and understand the motivation that leads him to deny a request of yours.
This strategy would not work if the problem was the fear that other people would make the same request for him. Hence the importance of knowing what motivates your boss to deny a request from you.
Start the conversation by discussing topics you both agree on
One piece of advice from the experts at Ingouville, Nelson & Assoc. is to start the conversation by talking about issues and topics where you both have the same opinions. According to them this is one of the secrets of successful negotiation.
“Research conducted in Britain has shown that more successful negotiators spend much more time talking about what they agree with the other party about than ordinary negotiators,” Ingouville explains.
Doing so consolidates the relationship, builds trust, and establishes a bridge that provides access to information exchange. In other words, if your boss trusts you the more chances you have of getting him to open up the motivations that prevent him from letting you work from home on Fridays, for example.
“People are reticent about telling their interests to people they don’t trust for fear that they will abuse that information. Talking about what we already agree on narrows the bond and makes it possible,” says Ingouville.
Believe in success and control your emotions
Avoid a defeatist posture. If you walk into your boss’s office certain that you’re going to hear a “no,” the chances of a yes become smaller. According to Ingouville and Lichmann previous experiences often contribute to this feeling of defeat, even before you make the request.
“It’s convenient to think it was impossible in the same way that it’s impossible to open a lock without the right key,” says Ingouville.
Difficulty controlling emotions can also put everything at risk. When you have adrenaline in your blood for some reason, serenity and intelligence diminish, explain the experts.
“Strong emotions are usually a product of frustration. If we have a plan and prepared conduct for different possible situations, it is less often that we meet with frustration,” says Ingouville.