Ever wondered about the cost of unions and organizations that are in conflict? Ever wondered why they don’t start out looking for solutions?
Think of the negative ROI – the waste of time, money, motivation, innovation and productivity. At its worst – the recent demise of the Hostess company and the Twinkies brand!
An organization and its union may be skirmishing, infighting, or in open conflict. It’s a battle for power and the competition between the two sides is inefficient, sometimes deadly. Both sides think they are ‘doing their job,’ but they’re not thinking about outcomes for the organization, the workers…and the customer. It’s about who’s right and one side usually bullies the other to force things through.
In my book, ‘Monkey-free meetings’ I advocate that people create problems in negotiation meetings because they focus exclusively on problems between them. I say, ‘don’t breed problem monkeys in meetings … they bite back!’
Now think about the cost to the likes of Hostess and the Twinkies brand … and the workers in that organization. Both sides see each other as the problem. Problem-focus is normal in organizations, but much worse when the groups in conflict compound it. They may think they have a solution at hand, but instead they are each vested in being experts on the ‘problem’ with the other side.
Speed up solution-building by framing meetings around what’s possible and what’s wanted, not the problem!
So, how do we get them out of problem-focus and move to solution-building around common goals? How do we move from negotiation to co-creation?
Don’t experiment on problem monkeys. Experiment on solutions.
We have to ignore the problem between both parties.
Here are some questions that will help steer away from the problem-focus in negotiation and start the process of alignment that leads to solutions without compromise:
What are you both doing right? What would your shareholders, leadership, workers and customers tell us you are doing right? What would the other team say you do right?
What are each of your key deliverables / goals? And, on a scale of 1-10 (1=room for improvement, 10=ideal), where are you?
Suppose the barriers to success went away, what would that success look like (to you, to the other side, to the customer)?
Suppose you were collaborating effectively with the other team and you were both achieving your goals…
What would be different / better about the way you work together?
Where will you have both made the greatest progress?
What will you see yourself doing to help make progress towards your shared goals?
What are your first steps?
Note that there’s little discussion about the contract that organizations and unions usually focus on. Instead they are focusing on co-creating outcomes that will make progress for both sides.
Will this approach work 100% over-night? Unlikely, but it will help make progress right away.
Do something different, not difficult, in your next negotiation
Where have you seen examples of organizations and unions making progress?