It’s about the long-term

I was recently very fortunate to have been asked to judge a Graduate level management case competition on negotiations.

It was a great experience and I saw some great talent from the new generation workforce.

One interesting theme that I noticed was how each side went in looking to win the negotiation, which on the surface makes absolute sense.

It is a competition after all, and it was somewhat set-up to be this way.

Some teams were more aggressive, some teams tried to be diplomatic and on paper, some teams won, and some teams lost for a lack of a better word.

In one instance, I asked one team member from a so-called losing team, how the negotiations made them feel as they walked away. The answer was “not good.”

So, let me ask you, if you walked away from a negotiation with a vendor or client and did not feel good, would you want to do business with them again?

Maybe yes, yet, definitely, maybe no.

So, does it make sense to win one negotiation at the cost of building a long-term relationship and would it not make sense that both sides walk away feeling good?

This made me think of interactions and relationships as a leader with staff.

There is great importance about building long-term relationships rather than having one-off transactional victories.

How each one of us in leadership may differ and it can be a slow and long road, yet in my experience well worth it.

Here are some areas to focus on to achieve this.

Work on communication and face-to-face is best even if in a virtual setting.

Ask how they want to learn and grow and how they want to contribute in a meaningful and tangible way. You can also share how you learned and grew and what you feel your contributions have been.

Recognize good quality work and praise it in specific and concrete terms. Especially if people have gone above and beyond.

These positive credits should outweigh any one-off negative ones.

Ironically, people tend to weigh the negative substantially more than the positive. Although I understand it, I don’t entirely agree with this approach.

I personally try to focus on the positive and what has been accomplished rather than what has not been accomplished.

Focusing on what has not been done can be very deflating especially if what has been done is not recognized.

Don’t forget, people have lives outside work and sometimes those lives are complicated. There could be family health issues, financial struggles, conflicts, and stress. People need to know it is ok to place family first.

The work will always be there. Foster a culture of balance if not a heavier weight on health and family.

Lead by example, not just words. It is essential that what you ask of people, you can deliver for your own efforts. Actions and results are just as important for you, especially if you expect that of staff.

If you don’t lead by example, you will likely lose credibility and that will impact the long-term relationship.

Pull feedback yourself to learn and grow as well. Even a seasoned leader can learn and grow from feedback and the essential part is to act on that feedback.

Lastly, always ensure you celebrate successes. It is possible to celebrate and be humble at the same time.

It’s not about winning a one-off negotiation; it’s about building a long-term relationship where both sides walk away feeling good.