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Though both pay rates and classification had been agreed upon in the previous negotiations, this negotiation dealt with four major objectives, namely: basis for increases in wages during the life of the agreement; agreeing upon the workplace arrangements, such as the process by which employees will be identified for, and can nominate for training; agreeing upon an hours’ roster, including implications for shifts and for overtime; agreeing upon the agreement duration; and last but not least, deciding on whether the set joint workplace committee should be a negotiating body or a consultative one; and whether any company information can be kept confidential from the committee.
For the purpose of this assignment, I will be arguing on the Dairy Co workers union side. My decision is based on the fact that, in most companies, unions enter negotiations without skills and experience on negotiation strategies and phases. As a result, most negotiations end up failing, or favouring the side of managers. So, this easy will provide them with different strategies, skills, principles and phases involved in an effective negotiation.
During this negotiation, the four negotiation phases that were followed are: making organized, which involved a certain level of beforehand preparations; breaking up phase which involved agreement foundation development by “framing the issues, without becoming bogged down in the miniscule details” (Bazerman & Neale, 1992); accepting a common line or detail setting phase which saw demand reduction from both sides to try to reach at a conclusion; and the last phrase was finding a solution where the two parties reached at an agreement by finding better ways of protecting their rights as well as profits.
At the end of these phases, all objectives had been reached upon, and an agreement had been made which did not delve much in the intricacies of ice cream production.
How phase identification and preparation led to our success
The first phase in our preparation was making organized. This phase was very important particularly when coming up with comprehensive arguments towards our case. This phase was of great help particularly in avoiding admonished situations due to unpreparedness.
Making organized helped use in determining our negotiation objectives, as well as coming up with specifics we were going to negotiate about. According to Loudon, McPhail & Wilkinson, (2009), this is a very important phase especially in putting things right before contacting anybody with whom we were going to negotiate with.
This helps in the formation of negotiation agendas before the commencement of any negotiation; this is because the phase helped us in making union’s requirements. In this phase, the union identified correct individuals who will take part in the negotiation process, their duties along with their powers. It is stated by Lax & Sebenius, (2006) that, “Intelligence gathering is crucial in obtaining a picture of the other side so we can assess their needs, motivations, and goals with respect to our own” (Lax & Sebenius, 2006).
Breaking up was a very distressful phase in our negotiation process. At this phase, every party was very rigid in making decisions, demanding that every side has to accept what others have proposed. Meaning that, we were just having awkward stands hence we broke up with the management.
Break up occurred because, every party was presenting; our positions to each other. At this phase, every party was trying to influence the other party to follow its stand. It is clear that proper preparation and identification of this phase prevented us from what is referred to as “becoming bogged down in the miniscule details” (Loudon, McPhail & Wilkinson, 2009).
According to Ray.F, 2010, this break up occurred because, we are from different parties with different objectives, duties and authorities, but we were forcing the management side to take our stand without considering their side. However, due to the difficulties that were experienced in this phase, we come up with alternatives to be used in the next phase. (Rojot, 1991)
Accepting a bottom line phase was like a sharing or discussion stage, as the phase helped us to construct our agreement foundation through issue framing. In doing this, we were complying with Fisher & Ury, (1981) that we had to put together our building blocks with the aim of understanding fundamentals aspects of our agreement, which all of us are looking forward to achieve.
We come up with principles upon which all of us agreed upon, this included things like the agreement duration; ensuring that the set joint workplace committees should be a consultative body, other than being a negotiating one; and ensuring that any company information can’t be kept confidential from the committee. This agreement was reached after every side had reduced their demands depending on their bargaining power.
This phase defined the objectives and goals of every party involved in this negotiation. Fisher & Ury, (1981) states that this phase provides chances for the parties to find facts, apart from establishing some of the compatibility measures in the Dairy Company. At this stage “We advanced proposals and counter-proposals, back and forth, until some manner of tentative agreement was reached” (Bazerman & Neale, 1992).
Finding solution; this phase saw us reaching a common requirement apart from finding better ways of protecting our rights and their profits. It needed both of us to trust each other to find a solution which was mutual reciprocity and benefit. This phase was very significant particularly when it comes to matters concerning contract completion assessment.
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At this phase, the management team and our team used external expertise in the venturing detail completion, which we were about to jointly settle upon. This phase provided us with the opportunity to discuss problems that might hinder realistic implementation of the new employment terms, to ensure that apart from being workable, it is viable.
In line with recommendation made by Nierenberg, (1995) that negotiators have to dig out detailed facts relating to “production, scheduling, handling delays, task responsibility and authority,” (Nierenberg, 1995) this phase gave us room to use people in management and technical areas to ensure that the process is streamlined, hence, apart from working smoothly, it also attained standards and requirements we both set.
This was particularly in matters relating to basis for increases in wages, an hours’ roster, including implications for shifts and for overtime, and the function of joint workplace committees.
At the final stages of this phase, the management team and union negotiators left everything to the wordsmith, particularly their respective lawyers, who Nierenberg, (1995) recommended that they will assist in putting what had been agreed upon into a document that is in a written form. They were also given the responsibility of describing contractual responsibilities to which the two parties had agreed upon.
This gave room for both of us to re-frame our partnership/employment terms to a level that we were all satisfied with basis for increases in wages during the life of the agreement; workplace arrangements, such as the process by which employees will be identified for, and can nominate for training; hours’ roster, including implications for shifts and for overtime; the agreement duration; the responsibility of joint workplace committees; and the confidentiality of any company information to the committee
The Contribution of Phases and Strategies to the Final Outcome
The union used competitive strategy or distributive bargaining, while the management team used both integrative and distributive strategies. Competitive strategy was selected because, According to, Barrick, Mount, & Strauss, (1993). its major aim is to maximize gains like wages, power, wages as well as status symbols; hence, the method was very appropriate with the union’s objectives.
This strategy helped us much in reaching a concession that favoured us much, this is because, “One must start high, concede slowly, exaggerate the value of concessions, conceal information, argue forcefully on behalf of principles that imply favourable settlements, make commitments to accept only highly favourable settlements and be willing to outwait the other fellow’’(Lax&Sebenius,1986).
Distributive bargaining helped us, as we tried to get advantage by insisting the negotiation to favour our side. We were just aiming at having more negotiators as compared to the counterpart to ensure that the other side has conceded to us.
On the other hand, the management used integrative strategy. With them, this strategy helped them particularly in the creation of rapport, which at the end made us to lower our demand. In addition, distributive strategy helped them to ensure that they don’t follow all of our demands. Hence, they also started at a lower level to ensure that they have also pulled us down in one way or the other.
Changing the Strategy and Phases Adopted
Considering the fact that this strategies and phases lead to a very successful negotiation process and everyone was satisfied by the outcomes, but, given the chance to change, I will opt for integrative approach. My reason for changing is based on the fact that, integrative phases and strategies gives a distinction between individuals and problems, they preferred interests to positions, apart from generating lots of options before deciding on one.
The strategy will also be in accordance Bray, Waring & Cooper, (2009), “base the result on some objective standard-are relevant from the time you begin to think about negotiating until an agreement is reached or you decide to abandon the effort” (Bray, Waring & Cooper, 2009).
This strategy will also lead to very successful outcomes as they will produce an agreement which is efficient, wise and possible. In addition, the outcomes that will be reached upon will not, and still do not hurt any relationship at company workplace. As compared to other strategies like positional bargaining or distributive negotiation strategy that was used in this negotiation, integrative negotiation will allow parties to work together as a team other than individuals focused on winning, or dividing on something.
The issue of separating individuals from the problem will also give room for the negotiators to compassionately and directly address the issues at hand, other than down grading other individuals. Pre-negotiation phase will be of great help particularly in the creation of rapport, which at the end leads to trust, apart from creating a friendly atmosphere which smoothen negotiations.
However, other phases will not change were very successful in concentrating more on basic needs of every party in the negotiation, other than encouraging win/loss strategy. Apart from the break up phase, which should be replaced by conceptualization phase? This will lead to efficient and effective outcomes. The issue of having open minds as a result of proper preparations will provide lots of opportunities for inventions which will aim at serving the interests of every side, as well as speeding up the negotiation process.
During this negotiation, all the objectives were agreed upon; hence new employment contract was signed by Dairy Company management and worker/union negotiators. With this negotiation strategy, it is evident that proper application of negotiation phases and negotiation strategy can lead to effective and efficient negotiation process, which will at the end lead to positive outcomes acceptable by all parties involved.
This has been proved by the efforts we made ourselves in Dairy Co. negotiation exercise. It is good to note that, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and as negotiation is something we can’t hide or run away from, we might as well do it right” (Fisher & Ury, 1981)
This is much correct if and only if we are ready to enter into negotiations with open minds, respect as well as understanding of other people’s interests, other than just focussing on our needs and personalities, without recognizing other trade-offs involved in any negotiation exercise, which has the ability of benefiting all parties involved in any negotiation (Sparks, D. 1993).
List of References
Barrick, M., Mount, K. & Strauss, J. 1993, Conscientiousness and performance of sales representatives: Test of the mediating effects of goal setting. Journal of Applied Psychology. 78, 715-722.
Bazerman, H. & Neale, A. 1992, Negotiating Rationally. New York: Free Press.
Bray, M., Waring, P., & Cooper, R. 2009, Employment Relations: Theory and Practice. Australia: McGraw-Hill.
Fisher, R. & Ury, W. 1981, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Lax, D. & Sebenius, J. 2006, 3D Negotiation. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Loudon, R., McPhail, R., & Wilkinson, A., 2009, Introduction to Employment Relations. Australia: McGraw-Hill.
Nierenberg, G. 1995, The Art of Negotiating: Psychological Strategies for Gaining Advantageous Bargains, Barnes and Noble. Australia: McGraw-Hill.
Ray, F. 2010, Effective Negotiation: From research to results’,pp.193-201
Rojot, J. 1991. Negotiation: from theory to practice. Houndmils, Hants: Macmillian.
Shapiro, M. & Jankowski, A. 1998, The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins – Especially You! New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Sparks, D. 1993, The Dynamics of Effective Negotiation. Houston,Texas: Gulf Publishing Co.