Why HR needs good negotiation skills, and how you can develop them

By:AnonymousJune 12th, 2013HRNo comments

There is a saying, we don’t get what we deserve in our lives we get what we are able to negotiate.

When both Public and the Private sector would have to make severe cuts it has been suggested that some HR teams would lack the necessary negotiation skills to deal with the changes.

Since the economic downturn started to bite, HR professionals now enter so many discussions about redundancies, pay and performance that they have had no choice but to hone their negotiation skills. We’ve become far more fluid in our negotiation. Less bureaucratic and more process-driven, they say.

Image problem

Negotiation itself tends to have an image problem. It is often associated with confrontations that go on long into the evening and resolve nothing. In reality, whether you’re in the private or the public sector, you will be entering into different levels of negotiation every day. These could be negotiations with suppliers, or with differences of opinions between line managers and staff. Even something as simple as working out the holiday rota is a basic form of negotiation.

However, there are times when these discussions become unavoidably public. For example a company’s media scrutiny of its employees decision to take industrial action over their pension. Or an airline’s failed negotiations with cabin crew in mid-2010 happened under the glare of the media spotlight. Negotiations in the public sector, in particular, tend to enter the public eye because everything is a matter of record.

Day-to-day negotiations

Most of day-to-day negotiations, however, happen without fanfare. There will be negotiations that are quite political and play out on a big stage, but most of it happens privately and quietly. I think HR people are generally successful at negotiating because they do it in a way that is unseen.

Where HR professionals do sometimes fall dawn is in recognising how their negotiations could affect not just their department, but the rest of the business. The problem is they can be too internally focused and not see how what they’re trying to negotiate might impact on other areas, for example line manager’s time. They have to think about the ‘what’s in it for me factor, why would the other person want to do what they’re proposing.


Tack International Romania have developed coaching programs run by experienced professionals that will transfer these learnt classroom skills into the work place.

Here are some examples of tips to consider when entering a negotiation:

  1. Have an idea of what success looks like. What will be an acceptable outcome?
  2. Position yourself on the other side of the table-what would you say if you were asked to take a pay cut?
  3. Build rapport before you enter a negotiation with someone. That means your relationship is not all about confrontation.
  4. Remember, you may be working with these people tomorrow, so don’t become too emotional.
  5. Think about your long-term relationship. If you take advantage of someone this time, you may not get the chance to work with them again.
  6. Consider a feedback session after a negotiation or an objection clinic so you can discuss about what works and what doesn’t.

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