Episode 12 – #AskAnAnalyst: Negotiation Approaches

Jacqueline: Hello everyone! Welcome back to another episode of Technology Expresso. This is Jacqueline Saunders-Blackman. Welcome to this show here. As you know, we have a show called ask the analyst. I myself am a business analyst. You’re not going to hear Kupe’s voice tonight. He’s running around the country doing workshops. We do miss Kupe and look forward to him being back with us in two weeks. So he left us at the helm of things. If you remember there was a Dave and Jacqueline show. We’ve been doing this for about 4 years. So we will do Kupe proud.

David: Let me say this. I am in no means trying to replace Kupe. He is an outstanding person and business analyst professional. I am not trying to replace him. This is just giving the project management spin or angle on how much we appreciate the business analyst community.

Jacqueline: Well thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Our series on Ask the Analyst, this is episode 12. Kupe and I started this back in November. Please visit Technology Expresso’s archive so that you can catch up on what we’ve been talking about. Just recently we talked about the DISC behavior types, dysfunctional teams, is it always the Business Analyst requirement, requirement being a team sport. We will be taking calls. We always take calls and want to hear from you. Let us know what other topics you want hear in the next 12 episodes. You can call in tonight. If you’re on the line which is 714. 884.7506, you can press 1 and we’d love to hear from you.

David: Let me say this. We would like to hear from the PM community and the BA community. They share a common space as the requirements mature into projects so it’s always good for the PM to get that BA spin and find out ways we can support our BAs as they mature requirements.

Jacqueline: That is the thing Business Analyst is a team sport. If you’ve listened to previous episodes, you’ve heard it quite often, our mantra that Kupe and I repeat. Anyone on the technology team, we have testers, we have DBAs, we have the people who do the user interfaces, the architects, it’s a community of people that build software. This conversation is about project success. It’s not about a role per se. Kupe and I speak to it because one thing that everybody has on common one way or another is second to the project schedule is the project requirement. We all live and abide by how good the requirements are and then how good the solution is going to be. This is just an area we can just sit around and talk about. There is always room for improvement in that area, not blame, but improvement. This is where the Ask the Analyst series came about. I will say that one of my assignments for tonight was to talk about a workshop that Kupe and I will be co-hosting in August. You can pre-register, it doesn’t cost you anything to pre-register. We are doing it in conjunction with the BDPA National Conference that is taking place in Atlanta, GA. It is taking place the 11th-13th. Actually that Friday there will be an all day workshop that Kupe and I will be hosting. It is going to be a very hands on, interactive, situational workshop. We will give you a case study, give you a situation. The three takeaways that we will be teaching you is negotiation, strategy and analyst. That is one of the things I wanted to do tonight, speak to each of those three areas and talk about how important they are around project success. A lot of you on the show know, what I like to do is bridge the entrepreneur community and as well as the corporate community. Negotiation, strategy and analyst is something you use whether you’re on a corporate project or if you’re on a project with a particular client. I often say with our entrepreneur community, you have a lot at stake. That project can make or break a small business. So these are important to them as well.

David: And that crosses all business sectors as well. There is analyst in each business sector that make up the business community. Those skill sets will be used not matter what the business is.

Jacqueline: Absolutely. Since we have David, I want to look at it from both sides of the table. With that, talking about negotiation from both the PM perspective and the BA perspective. So what I want to do is run through and if you’re online, you will see the slide deck that is rotating through while you’re watching online. If you go to the new website, it’s the old url, technologyexpresso.com, but it is a new look. Don’t let that distract you. Do visit the new website. Click on the link to the show and watch. That is if you’re online. Some of you are in your car. But come back when you get a chance and visit the website after the show and you’ll get to see some of the visuals that go along with what we are speaking about.

David: Yes! Drop us a line. Reach out to us. Visit the website and social media. You’ll get to see some of the things we’ve added. We look forward to engaging you, our listening community on a whole other level.

Jacqueline: Let’s talk about negotiation strategies starts with people, alliances, partnerships and that is so important in IT now. When it comes negotiation and in your experiences, what have been some of your lessons learned on how important it is to make partnerships and alliances as a project manager?

David: Absolutely. It is extremely important. One of the first things you have to do, and this goes for any situation, gauging your audience. Finding out who you are speaking with and determining on what level they’re use to speaking as far as across the table is concerned. That will allow you to communicate on their level and making sure you’re hitting all their points. They’ll appreciate that, they really do.

Jacqueline: This actually ties in. I thought back to last week when we were talking about the DISC behavioral types. When it comes to behavioral types, you will find what they call the negotiation behavior type.  There are different types of personalities. When it comes to negotiation, instead of focusing on the topic at hand, focus on the personality. Think about the behavior. The four negotiation personalities, you have your analytical person that’s the planner, the thinker. You have the more practical person that says let’s do, let’s go, let’s make things happen. You have the person that is what they call the extrovert. That is the person that likes the command and the control. Then you have the person that has the amenable personality. That is the talker pleaser. You may know people in those different categories. However, it will definitely govern how you approach them. You definitely have to approach the thinker different than the doer or the controller. You might lead in with particular facts but the doer is like show the action plan. Show them how we are going to get there first then back into all the justifications. The talker pleaser is maybe more about how it is going to affect the people around them and making sure that it is a win win for other people. You’re more so selling them on not what’s in it for them but also the people around them. They care about people’s reaction and so if you’ve done a test bed and can give them some people’s positive reaction, that is going to peak their interest. Then the controller. The controller person, not in a bad way, they want to know what the parameters are going to be. They want to make sure it is very predictable. They aren’t into the spontaneous, just run with it type thing. I put that out there to also remind us about last week’s show. Kupe spoke to DISC. He is actually certified in DISC behavior types and does workshops. We talked about how to read people and how to understand people. Then to use that  in how you approach people. Again, so important with the negotiation. Some people think, you’re either good at negotiation or you’re bad at negotiation, when just like everything else, there are different techniques, there are tools and way to continuously get better. Which brings me to my next point, one of things it says is, prepare, prepare, prepare. Can you think of an example where you had to negotiate, from a project management perspective? Can you think about when you had to negotiate something it? Maybe was competing requirements or competing timelines, but what’s your thoughts about preparing? How do you prepare for negotiation?

David: Well the one that comes immediately to mind is timeline. Everyone is mostly concerned about the timeline. There are going to things that are going to impact the timeline and it is a constant negotiation because you have committed to a particular timeline. There are things that are going to impact that timeline. Instead of your deliverable being late or coming in early, mostly it’s late, it’s almost a given it is going to be late. But what if, instead of it being late, no matter how late it as it was still on time? Imagine that! So the negotiation around that is around the timeline and the deliverables. What role did the customer or the community have in impacting the timeline as well. So there are a lot of variable that impact the timeline, so it could be late according to a calendar but still be on time. The end of the project as the client sees it not the end as all the other deliverables are concerned. It all depends on what your infrastructure, you team, your company sees as closing the project. Negotiations around the timeline and the deliverables around those timelines can end up being a success. At the end the day the client might say he maneuvered me around that even though we are four months late, we agreed that it is on time. There is a lot of negotiation around the timeline and the deliverable for the client versus the overall deliverable for the project. There is a lot of negotiation and a lot of give and pull along the entire process.

Jacqueline: And something that you said because so much of what the managers deal with is the timeline, the dates, the deadlines, is kind of putting a qualifier around the timeline. We can deliver something but do you want something of quality? That is something that is part of the conversation. Again that qualifier is helping you with your negotiation. If someone just wants to look at black and whites and say well this is the date, you know pounding on the table. But at the same time it is like, we can give you something on that date, but this is what’s at risk and again those qualifiers, that’s what helps you with negotiation. The second thing I want to say is that some people think negotiation is a bad word. Like you’re trying to trick or you’re trying to manipulate people and in fact it is about giving them facts, giving them additional information. Influencing them to make the best possible decision. I will quote Kupe here in his absence. He always says, from a  business analyst perspective, one of our jobs or roles is to help people make good decisions. So giving them good informations, giving them thorough information.That’s what we are here for. It is not just, you know, because there are a lot of people from the business analyst perspective. Of course we’ve had conversations about the title of business analyst but business analysis or business analyst, you may start out and feel as if you are an order taker or someone that is writing requirement or on to managing requirements. But the next level of business analyst is an advisor, a trusted advisor, a consultant.  So in that way back to his point, it is about helping people, giving them the information they need to make the best decision. In that, that is a way to influence or persuade people and that takes you to the negotiation.

David: And from the business analyst perspective, it is important to, stake your claim to your profession. You’re not there, as you said, as an order taker or just an admin. So from time to time, you may have to step in and give advice where it may not be welcomed or wanted but it is needed. You have to look at it as that is why you are there. You were requested to be part of this solution and you may have to step in and claim your space and give the perspective that the requirement needs because we are all here to support a requirement or project, not a person. We have to look at what’s best for the requirement, what’s best for the project, not necessarily what’s best for the person. It is important to know how to deliver that information.

Jacqueline: i want to take that same question and answer this from a business analyst perspective and discuss what our role is on negotiation. A lot of times we are a facilitator so one of the things if anything I often have to make sure the BA would is playing the facilitator role, stays neutral. Making sure both sides speaking, making there is specific time to speak, and there is not a winner or loser or taunting or getting personal. I know people think we are building software, if you aren’t in the software industry, it can get emotional, it can get nasty. We get lively over here. There is a legend at one company that I worked for that someone asked someone to step out in the parking lot. So it gets heated. People really get into it and are emotionally attached to one position or another. A facilitator’s job is to monitor all of that. I will tell you, in my experience, because when you talk about the Business Analyst verse the PM role, a lot of times my PM has been my sergeant in arms. When I’ve been in heated situations, as a facilitator, i am helping to make sure everyone’s voice get heard but at some point if the conversation needs to get cut off, if we need to take it for a vote, if we heard all of the sides, then the project manager then they step in. Not only do they manage the overall project but sometimes they have to project manage a meeting itself and say hey okay we’ve heard both sides. Sometimes dragging out the decision raises the stakes and puts us at risk for a lot of different things. I know I have had this experience when negotiations are going on and on. Prime example that I often use, I had two executive level people trying to make a decision about the scope of the project. First of all, it took weeks and weeks to get on their schedules. When we get them in there, we’d talk about things but they would never make a decision. Another month went by and we finally got them in the room. As each month went by, we had a hard deadline because it was a  compliance issue. So we went from having 9 months to 8 months to 7 months and finally our project manager had to sit down and lock this in. We had a dinner meeting, he locked the door and basically said, no one is leaving until we have a decision. At that point we were down to 6 months so our scope kept dwindling and dwindling. Since it was a compliance thing, something had to be done and we needed to get started sooner versus later because we had eaten up 3 months with these executives trying to make a decision. It wasn’t fair that the developers and the rest of the team were going to be squeezed into a 6 month solution.

David: And there are times where there is an impact to the budget as well because when you have a project or a initiative, the project is given X amount of dollars. If you run the duration of the project and you run out of money, that can be a problem too. There are a lot of reasons why you have to come to these hard decisions and these milestones decisions during a project.

Jacqueline: Let me go to one of our next steps when it comes to negotiation. The first step being, prepare, prepare, prepare. The next one is in regards to paying attention to details. Have you ever had a situation where there were not enough details in the negotiation process? Have you been part of that or is that more on the business analyst side?

David: It is more on the business analyst side. In some of my recent projects, I haven’t been as engaged as I like to be as they sit with the business developing a user story or use cases. A lot of those type of issues and decisions come up at that level and I hear about it on the back end. I don’t take it personal. It is just that it is not in my core responsibilities. So I just have to go with the flow because most happens at that level so I don’t get exposed to it as much as I’d like to.

Jacqueline: One of things i’d like to say when it comes to paying attention to details is sometimes you have to make a decision with the information you have at hand. What i have found is that people want more, they want more details, they want information. Sometimes because of time and the space we are in, sometimes you have to make a decision. Now some people and again we talked about the different personality types, that drives them completely crazy. I have some BAs who are very detailed oriented and it really puts them on edge when they don’t have all the information to present. One of the things in business management, they have the mindset of being risk takers and we know that with entrepreneurs they’re use to taking risk. So sometimes, you take the information you have at that moment and you have to make a decision. You have to do something to continue to move forward. What I do find and I can tie this to project management for sure, is that sometimes we don’t go back incrementally and do some tweaking based on the new information. What I mean by that is, at a high level, we scope out the project and we usually determine the deadline and the budget. Then 2 months into it, we learn things, we have more information, we are talking to more people.  But do we change the timeline or the budget? No.

David: You could. You actually could.

Jacqueline: But you don’t find that, that often. In the environments that I’ve been in. I think that step is missing. I think that’s a luxury.

David: Well what I’ve been involved in is architect. Building clouds basically to support the software that you and your team are defining, developing or onboarding. We run into that a lot lately. We’d go back to a business and have them do a change request. So there is a process for scoping. Well we need more storage than we originally thought. We’d have to do a change. It’d go through the same process and here is more money and here is more funds. There is a vehicle for that in the project management world, from my perspective. There is a vehicle for architect and software that supports our clients.

Jacqueline: That’s an important point. What I find is that, you’re on the hardware side, so when you say we need more memory, we need another server, we need another rack, that’s something physical, tangible, with a price tag. People don’t always see that for software. It like I want another button on the screen and I want a little man to jump across the screen and twirl and do cartwheels and I want video and I want retinal scan on my laptop. They want to add all these things to the software. It doesn’t seem like a real cost to them. People just have that in their mind. We are spoiled by the mobile app mentality. You can go out there and get free apps all day long. Those are softwares that someone has written. Then the minute the app has the popup ad for the upgrading version for $9.99, they’re like no I’m not going to pay for this. I almost think people don’t think you pay and don’t see the cost of software.

David: We traced it back sometimes and it goes back to the software. We didn’t scope it accurately and we need two servers instead of one server and 10 gigabytes worth of storage instead of 4. So it comes from the requirement side.

Jacqueline:  Like I said i think that has a specific cost so there is no way it is not going to happen unless someone incorporates it in the budget and makes some adjustments. Sometimes it may not even be intentional. It may just be information you missed. We have the same issue on the software side. When we’re building it, they say oh yeah I want this too and while we’re at it I want this too. It is whatever their mind can conceive but they aren’t putting a price tag to it. I wish we had a price list similar to hardware that every time they’d want to add button or add a field or add some new functionality that they can think of that they could see a price list and see what it cost from not only the development but you have to have the testers to test the development. The business analyst have to do the due diligence to make sure what was being asked is completely detailed out. It’s tricky. Just for those who have dialed in and are listening, you are listening to Jacqueline Sanders-Blackman and David Blackman. You may have been expecting Kupe, but Kupe has the night off. He is still allowed us to host our own show and talk on tonight’s topic. I’ll make sure he gets the transcription so he can grade on what he agrees with and doesn’t agree with and he can add in his comments. He will be back with us in two weeks. Some of you may have noticed that we rotate. We have a lunch time show and a evening show. Tonight is the evening show. So in two weeks he will be back and he assured me that he will be ready to go and that is going to be on June 7 during our lunch hour. Any of our shows are available on our website in our archive. SO if lunch or the evening doesn’t work for you, you can always go back to our archives. The best way to go is through one of our portals. We have one online which is technologyexpresso.com and or we have a mobile app. We have launched and updated our mobile app. You can go to the play store, you can go to itunes and look for technology expresso, we have an app. OUr app just makes it really easy to get to any of our social media. We are trying to make it really easy to go to our app, see what events, when we’re teaching, where we’re speaking, you can also go to see our facebook posting, our instagram posting, our youtube videos. We have sucha  big range of social media platforms.

David: We’ve got to give the people what they want. We’ve listened. We’ve learned. We’ve leveraged and we’ve launched.

Jacqueline: Absolutely. One of the other very cool things about our website and this is in our mobile app is that you can record a voice message on the mobile app and we will play it back on the air. So if you have a comment, if you want to talk about an event, if you want to talk about an organization that promotes STEM, you can record it right in the app and it will send it directly over to us. Then of course you can connect with us via email technologyexpresso@gmail.com and or you can leave a message at 855.484.6837. Leave us a message and we like playing back messages on the air.

David: Absolutely. That phone number by the way is at the top of our web page. If you scroll down you will see a list of our most recent shows and the search bar functionality on blog talk radio. You go there and put in the exact reference that is of the show you’re looking for. If it’s Kupe’s name, put his name in. If it is someone else’s name that you know that’s done a show with us, put their name in. It is sure to pop up and you’ll listen to you favorite show.

Jacqueline: Tonight’s topic is around negotiation. What you’re hearing is David is giving us the project management point of view and I am giving the business analyst point of view. Negotiation is part of a trilogy of negotiation, strategy, and analysis in the whole analytical thinking. Those are part of a workshop series that Kupe and I will be hosting live. We are kind of over the next three episodes, we will be taking on those topics. When Kupe comes back, we will kind of finish up and get his comments on negotiation. Then we will talk about strategy and analytical thinking. This is all in preparation for the workshop. The workshop will take place in Atlanta at the Peachtree Westin. The workshop is taking place at the same time as the BDPA.org national conference. You can actually register through the BDPA.org website. You don’t have to attend the whole conference. You can just register for that workshop The workshop is taking place Friday August 12. You can take all 3 segments. It will be hands on, kind of situational where we will give you case studies in a situation where you have to work through negotiation. We will give another where you have to work through a strategy and then the third situation where you have to use analytical thinking to break down a problem and get to the root cause. It is going to be a great workshop. You will get a certificate from BDPA for the workshop that will have both PDUs and CDUs. Again the PDUs for the PMIs, if you are currently have your certification through the PMI. If you are looking your certification, those PDUs are important. The CDUs as it relates to the IIBA. So if you have any questions about the workshop, you can email us at techonologyexpresso@gmail.com or you can email B2TTraining. You can email Kupe directly at Kupe@B2TTraining.com . Or you can email myself at Jacqueline@B2TTraining.com.

David: if you’re on the website, there is a contact us tab so you can go right to the website and drop us an email that way as well.

Jacqueline: Absolutely. Let’s talk just a little bit with our audience and again if there is someone on the line that want to say hi we would love to hear from you. We always welcome our listeners. If you jump in the que, Javon, our sound engineer will get you setup. Just want to give a shout out to Javon. Also, one of our interns, Anisah, just graduated. But she has always been a big help. Kudos to her. She does our transcripts for us. Since she is graduating, we do have a couple of open positions for more interns because we are growing and expanding. If we have some young people out there listening, you could even co-host a show if you’d like. We let our interns co-host and you might be hearing one of our interns soon. Salease did a interview and she might returning to do some more shows.

Jacqueline: With that said, let’s talk about negotiation. We talked about being prepared. We talked about understanding different people and their personalities and we talked about paying attention to detail. Be careful because sometimes you have to go with the information you have and then set up your touch points to revisit as you learn new information. The other thing about negotiation, it says leave behind your ego. I don’t know if that is directed towards the person doing the negotiation or the person doing the facilitation or all of the above. In fact, that is what you really have to watch for. When we talk about facilitators, we talk about watching for people and it getting personal. Have you had in your real world experience where you had ego come into play?

David: You’re in big community. There are a lot of powerful people in these meetings and conference calls as you are negotiating the terms of the engagement, of the requirement. It goes a lot of different places. Yes you get a lot of different personalities on those calls and you have to manage that. There is project management and business analysis. There is a lot of psychology that goes into that and managing these powerful egos. You can have the most powerful person on the call be dead wrong and you have to manage that. Not calling the individual out but just take it as a note of information. Get other perspectives and move on. It is really a craft and a lot of psychology that goes into managing these negotiations or just managing or facilitating a meeting. It is the same skill set.

Jacqueline: You’re so right. This is what I think sometimes on both sides of the table, you have the watch your ego. I have seen people where, just like what you said, that person is wrong and I am right. They’re so vested in proving that they’re right. Sometimes they don’t really read the room well. I’ve seen it where whether my manager was wrong or I was wrong–I’ve seen when I was wrong, my manager back me up 100% and then take me to the side and said, did you mean it that way? Sometimes we have to do a little damage control. The point is that person had my back or I had their back as well. I notice this with youth. I remember years ago, and youth in your mind is more so about being right. But it is also about the right timing. You learn that sometimes you can be right but wrong at the time you presented it. You don’t call an executive out in front of their peers. Really you don’t call anyone out in front of their peers. There are always opportunities to correct that wrong information that might have went out and run it back. You just have to watch who you are the presence in.

David: In the community we call that negative stakeholders. You have to watch for that negativity. They could be extremely intelligent and bring a lot to the table as far as the requirements or the executive decision that need to be made but they can bring a negative air to the environment. You have to manage that. You have to focus on the content and not the delivery. Don’t let it be you the one that well let’s cancel the meeting. Your executive manages that. You may have to cancel the meeting if it is taking on too much of a negative tone and let your executive know and look for direction on how to manage the negative stakeholders.

Jacqueline: And what we do in facilitation is call a timeout. One of the things we talk about and coach people in our training is, you’ve got to use silence. Just give everybody a minute to catch their breath. Let everyone settle down. The other thing is doing some paraphrase. Reading back a summary of what everyone said. This is where we are. Let’s all just pause and go over where we are so far. Sometimes, as you mentioned, the person with the most responsibility in room is wrong. Sometimes what they need is to hear what they’ve said. In facilitation we talk about this, you can read something back to someone verbatim and they’ll says no that is not what I said or that is not what I meant. At that point, especially for auditor learning, you’re talking so much you’re not even listening to yourself. We talk about good listening skills and sometimes in the heat of the moment, you’re just going at it trying to get your point across and so passionate about something that you’re not even hearing yourself. So the pause sometimes isn’t always for you to repeat and for you to make sure you heard it right, they may something need an auditory mirror so they can hear what they said. It gives them the opportunity to correct themselves. Along that there is a combination of be careful of egos, yours, theirs, and everyone else’s in the room on both sides. You have to protect ego and those who come with strong ego which is often the case with the negative stakeholders. Recognize it and try to work around it and try not to let it be the squeezy wheel in the room that gets all the attention.

David: You have an opportunity, if it is a challenge to your craft, you that as a challenge to your craft, but you can still stick to your principle but you have to manage your attitude and how you respond to negativity. It’s like a basketball court, you see, everyone sees in the corner of their eye that first punch or like in football, that first punch. Everyone looks back to see how that person is going to respond. So you have to manage how you respond to negativity.

Jacqueline: The next item on my list is make sure to wrap up your listening skills. One of the things, and again I’m channeling Kupe on this one– There is a lot more to active listening than that meets the eye. A lot of people may think they are good listeners. One of the things that he talks about is the improv. I am not going to try to cover that topic like he does so please do listen to our previous episode. Kupe drops in a little bit on improv on a lot of our episodes so go back and listen. He, as a lot of you may know, was professionally doing improv, acting and comedy. One of the things I like and that he applies to business analysis is you don’t say no. So whatever the last activity the person did, you’re suppose to kind of pick up where they left off and continue the act going. He said the concept that he teaches in an improv workshop he teaches for business analysis is find a way to agree. Find something in common that you like that they said and then expand on it with whatever additional information you have to offer. I see people with that technique and are very good at it. It doesn’t mean you’re patronizing them. It means you’re first acknowledge what they said before you come back with what would be a rebuttable. When you’re having that back and forth and that negotiation, avoid the word but. But is negating what they said. When they hear the but they stop listening. They say okay you disagree with me. It would interesting if we could see what people were really thinking. When an argument is going on because when they cut off their listening  all they’re doing is trying to mount their counter attack. Their next verbal counter attack. They’re like I am not listening to what you said. I am just ready for a good comeback. Then nobody is listening to each other.

David: You can also table to area of challenge. If it’s a technical or theoretical or directly impacts the solution or the requirement you can always table it for the next meeting. Or have a separate to discuss that challenge and keep the negotiation around the project going and address that later when a cooler headset prevails or an opportunity to get more information. It always leave an opportunity for who’s across the table to get more information as well.

Jacqueline: And that’s so tricky because it seems like in corporate America, it always seems like we’re always in a hurry. We’re always behind the 8 ball and we need to get decisions and we got to keep moving. Unfortunately the project managers always get blamed. We don’t have enough time. We got to go. We have to decide. We don’t have that luxury.

David: Well we can talk about that later. I just use that technique.

Jacqueline: Oh you’re differing the conversation?

David: Yes

Jacqueline: And so in corporate America that always seems to be that we’re always behind the 8 ball. But I will say and that’s a technique that we do mention in our B2T Training too, is not every decision has to be right this moment. Agile i think does this very well. Let’s focus on this small chunk right now. That is what we have to focus on and the decisions we have to make related to the stories for that sprint that we’re focused on. So what you don’t try to do it make every decision that ever has to be made about everything that is in the back log for the life of the project at the starting gate. That is not agile. The thing is what I always advocate is you can take concepts that are agile across anything. I think, and to your point, when you are in the heat of a conversation or negotiation and you’re trying to decide and it’s just not coming and we just don’t have enough information. The question that the facilitator or meeting organizer should put on the table is what if we don’t have this answer today? Can we defer this? Just for a day? Or until the end of the week? How much time do we have before this becomes a critical path or show stopper? If not, then maybe we don’t have to make that decision right now. I am just bring it back to the facilitator’s perspective, things you can do, things you can say to see maybe you guys are trying to hammer it out and nail people down. We have got another 24 or 48 hours to make the decision.

David: I agree. Not everything needs to be settled at that point in time. As a facilitator, I am going to make a power move and say we’ll let’s table that discussion or put that conflict area to the side. I’ll make note of that and we can revisit that offline and have clarity around that by the next meeting. So i am going to make a power move and put it to the side. That is my role actually as a facilitator, whether it is a project manager or a BA because when you’re at the requirement state, software requirement or even just the concept, managing or facilitating that communication that’s your role. Sometimes you might have to take a power move and shelf it and let cooler heads prevail. I think everyone will respect you for that.

Jacqueline: Yeah and I think you have to read every situation because again, everything can’t be deferred, but put it on the table. It is worth putting on the table. Oddly enough, that takes us to our next point which is if you don’t ask, then you don’t get.  I think it is the perfect one to round out our first six points of negotiation. It can go with anything, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. That even goes back to job offers and job negotiation. As we are talking about negotiation and the skills you will learn in the workshop that Kupe and I are going to do. It doesn’t just apply to on the job or on the project. Negotiation is so important for getting the salary you want, the benefits you want, the position you want. In IT and we talk about this quite a bit, IT you don’t just get into a role and stay in that role for 10, 20, 30 years. IT changes, I want to say just as fast as the cell phone models change. Because we are so dynamic, we have to negotiate quite a bit. I want to ask you your perspective because you have been through your fair share of salary negotiation. This ties into another show we have talking to Military Veterans because when you’re coming from the military, you really don’t negotiate your salary per se. So that is something new when you make your transition into corporate America. Now you find yourself negotiating salary, benefits, positions, titles. What’s your experience negotiating salaries and that transition? Does the army as you’re getting out, do they prepare you for that? Or is it some stuff that you’ve just picked up along the way?

David: It is a little of both actually. As you are leaving the military, they do offer a program. Back when I was coming through it was called TAP, transition assistance program. You go through resume building and negotiation. Now, I am a little out of touch lately, but I can guaranteed that salary negotiation is part of that. Everyone’s skill sets have changed and you have a lot of value. You get to do a little homework before you get into those situations just like anyone does. The Transition Assistance Program will help you, if you ask the right questions, gauge the market for your skill set and determine the going rate for someone of your caliber and skill set. That will help you with your negotiation and not just taking what is given to you as if those are orders, right!? We will give you this much and you say yes sir and go forth. No that is not how it works. You have an opportunity to negotiate. In my business now, there is a range. There is always a range. It is okay to ask what is the range. Shoot for the middle of the range. You don’t want to overshoot yourself out of an opportunity. Coming in at the middle as a retired military, you’ve got your own military benefits so you have some wiggle room. You can come in with an acceptable rate that they will agree to and you know you can live with. You have a lot of wiggle room. There are a lot of things that go into your decision making around that. Know that you have that room and ask for the range. Not how much are they pay because you know that’s not the best way to approach it. Asking for the range is the best way to approach it whether it is a permanent or contracted position.

Jacqueline: I think that initially when you are trying to get the interview and everything. Typically they say keep the conversation at a high level. Keep it at a range as you would with an negotiation. You wouldn’t go into the specifics. Now once you get to the place where you are being offered the job and position, you have to change your thinking. It goes back to what we said earlier, prepare, prepare, prepare. Do your homework. Be able to speak to your value as it compares to what they are offering you. This is something that is common in IT. They want this multifaceted, multi-certification, industry specific experience. They want you to be part PM and part BA and I love when they put in the describe and anything else we can think of. Basically what that final line is saying, they want this multi-faceted person but then they want to give this starting type of salary. One of the things is you have to realize is they aren’t going to find this person that has it all. What you have to do is find what unique combination do you have that meets 80% of their needs and then where your tenacity, your creativity, your ability to learn and be a self starter makes up that 20%. The better you know yourself because at this point it is a confidence game too. If you don’t believe what’s on your resume and you don’t believe in your value then you’ll look at it as, I am lucky they made me an offer. You’ve got to get into your own head when it comes to negotiation, especially when it comes to yourself. You have to value what you’re bringing to the table. They’re going to read you, just like you’re going to read them. One of the things I was always taught is don’t ever take the first offer. If you think about it as a negotiator, think about it if you’re going to buy a car and you go to a car lot, very rarely and I don’t know a car lot that you can go to that anyone takes what is on the sticker. You pretty much look at the sticker and say that’s the starting point so I am going to take them down. They’re going to say they can’t. We are going to do this back and forth of negotiation. So why not do the same thing with your salary but flip and say why aren’t I at the high end of that range? Then not only convince them but convince yourself that I am at the high end of that range. I am not only at the high end of that range, I am beyond that high end of the range. I’ve been one of those people who have made those ranges and made up those job postings. There is more than that high end of the range. Find out how long they’ve been looking for that candidate. Dave and I do this quite a bit, we look on zillow. If we see a house has been on a long time, oh we have some room to negotiate. The same goes for a job. How long have they been looking? Have they had any turnovers? Have they had explosive growth all of a sudden and they really need someone? You convince them I am the one you need. There is nobody like me and this is what it is going to cost you.

David: right! I might not be most knowledgeable or the most educated but i’m the best fit.  It is not necessarily what you know what your particular skill set brings. You wouldn’t have gotten the interview if they didn’t recognize what your skill set brings. What is most important is how I relate to the most adjacent skill sets that i’ll be involved with. How well do I understand the BA role as a PM? How well do I understand the role of the engineers? As a PM, you’re in the middle, of a lot of these scenarios. Even as a BM you’re in the middle sometimes too. Whether it’s in industrial as a welder. How well do you work with the architects? How well do you work with the plumbers? How well do you work with the carpenters? When you have a particular skill set, it is how well you can work with that particular team and the adjacent roles to help move the project or initiative forward. If you are well verse in a lot of their terminology that the BAs use and their particular skill set, through that out there. If you know engineering, if you know servers, if you know how to build servers, you know how to manage storage, you know networking and IPs, you know a lot about different architects or designs, through that out there. Let them know how aware you are of related skill sets that you will be working with. That is what is going to separate you from the rest of the pack.

Jacqueline: That is a good point. I will tell you a good tip on hiring managers– how you are going to meld with the rest of my team, how you are going to merge. You can get someone on part that has all the skills and the knowledge and certification but they’re disruptive to the team, the energy of the team, the personalities of the team and it can set back the team because they are trying to bring you along. It is kind of like the cancer of the team, you can bring the whole team down. That is one of the things you could bring someone in and I’ve seen both spectrums. I’ve seen where someone was way too high energy and it goes back to what Kupe mentioned last call, the different behavior types. So understanding what behavior your group is and understanding what behavior someone coming in should be to blend well. Someone that is social all the time verse an analytical team that just needs the energy and time to think and focus and just kind of be introspective. You have to have the right balance. At the same time, you’ve got to leverage that person that is that more extraverted, they’re going to be the top facilitators on the team whereas those who are more introspective they may not be facilitators but they perform as analysis. So it is about a balance. The other thing I wanted to mention is since we are talking about salary negotiation, people look at your resume and they look at skill and knowledge, but when you are in that interview and you’re in that negotiation, the third thing you bring is ability. You have the ability to learn. So really your resume is a history of when you learned and adapted to a group and contributed to that organization. In the interview you have to talk about how well you are able to adapt or pick up skills, apply things or fit within a team like you were talking about. Talk about your ability. Don’t just focus on your skills and knowledge because on the job especially in IT you are going to pick up a whole new skill set, a whole new way of doing things because you need to be and they’re going to want you to be flexible to their environment. It is just about, again, do your homework, come at the negotiation with confidence, know yourself well enough to know what points you’re selling to them, and make sure they understand that they are getting something out of this too. Even ask yourself, look at that high end of the range, why aren’t I at that high end of the range. Be able to come up with that criteria of why you’re at that high end of the range and ask why aren’t I 10% more than that range? Usually there is that wiggle room. Back to that analogy that I said about that house that has been sitting for a while. Keep those in mind. That takes me to one of our next points; anticipate compromise. Anticipate that they are going to lowball you. Anticipate that they are going to say oh no, we don’t have it in our budget. This is the high end. That’s why you’re a lot more comfortable if you already have a job and they know that. You don’t have to stay. You can walk away from their offer. I know more than one person that walked about from their negotiation and they called them back. It might have been a week and it might have been nerve wracking but you do have the option to walk away. It is just like what you said, if you are in a project meeting and things are getting heated, just say hey let’s just take a timeout. It is the same thing when negotiating salary. If you both can meet somewhere in the middle where you’re comfortable and this is one of the things again if you have a job and you have income, you have the luxury of saying this is my bottom line. This is my minimum. Stick to it. The worst thing that can happen is that you take a position and the first day you walk in you resent it, I should be paid more. Let alone, you’re not supposed to talk about salary but people find out what other people make. That day when you find out, I am not even making the highest, all bets are off. So you’re miserable at that job. I’ve said that in negotiations, “ I’d really like us to come to a place where we don’t have the have this conversation ins 6 months, 9 months, or 12 months. I want to be comfortable where I am. Anything thereafter would be nice to have.” I’ve said that because I don’t like the “we can give you this now and then we can touch basis again in 6 months.” I already know what I am going to deliver and I know you’re going to get a good product so let’s just pay for what you’re getting and then we don’t have to have this conversation again in 6 months. It’s not always easy but you can negotiate. Let me put it this way, you can negotiate a lot harder when one of your options is I can walk away from this and keep this in mind. Don’t feel like you have to take what they give you and then resent it later.

David: By this time you know what your range is and you know what is going to make or break you. You know what you will accept and what you will not accept. Stick to your guns. Absolutely.

Jacqueline: Stick to your principles. Stick to your bottom line. The other thing is this is a good one. Don’t absorb other people’s problems. This goes both ways. I am going back to negotiating for a job or opportunity. We’ve been in a lot of coaching position where people come to us and say I need a job so they start telling us all the reasons why they need a job. They have bills. They have a mortgage and they have kids in college. The person that you’re negotiating with, that is not their concern. You’re probably scaring them because they’re thinking how are you going to come to work and concentrate when all these issues you have. Your position of negotiation with them should be this is what I want to do for you, for your company, this is what I’m going to contribute. Your team is going to be so much better if I join it. Not the fact that you have bills.

David: Right. That is a detractor. It really is. That says to me that is not what I want to hear and this person is not going to say the right thing at the right time or they are going to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, just like they’re doing right now. They may be very talented but there is a gap there and there is a skill set that I’m looking for and the skill set they just displayed is a skill set that I don’t want. As a hiring manager you get to pick at the liter. There are a lot people out here with a lot of skill set, but who is going to impress you at the right time. Someone can impress you and walk right by you and not say a word to you. That was an opportunity. It is going to be the right person at the right time. The smallest thing can turn off someone trying to fill a position. You could bump into them and not say excuse me and then start a conversation and find out that there is an opportunity there. And not the opportunity because you were rude and that may be something that rubs them the wrong way. Or maybe they were rude and maybe they’re in a bad place. There are a lot of things that could go wrong. I will say this, every opportunity that you don’t get brings you one step closer to the opportunity that you will get. Don’t let it weigh on you a lot. Learn from everything.

Jacqueline:  So our other point here is don’t absorb other people’s problems and don’t dump your problems in other people. Negotiation and if you find yourself getting off track in the conversation bring it back. A company can tell you we’re a small company, we can’t afford to give you this salary. Again this is them dumping their problems on you. What you want to do is say, I understand that but at the same time I am going to do this for your organization. I am going to do this with what I have to offer you. I know sales will increase so it will all pay off in the end. So bring them back to what you have to bring to the table. That’s the same for when you’re in a team meeting or project meeting as a business analyst or project manager, sometimes you have to bring people back. They get off topic. Their emotions get thrown in and we start rehashing history. The bottom line is we are just all over the place and we have to bring it back. We have to take everybody’s luggage off the table. Take everyone’s emotions out of it.  Just bring it back to the key points. This is why as a business analyst we talk about having your agenda and having your parking lot. These are the tools and techniques from a professional perspective.

 

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