"Frank's skill in asking the right questions is un-mistakable, and is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

The power of these questions cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to lead and not manage."
—John Cave
Westhaven Worldwide Logistics

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Archive for the 'Negotiations' Category

08/16/2009

Flattery is the infantry of negotiation.
Lord Chandos

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Are You Prepared To Lose Your Top Performer?

Some 75% of all companies are in desperate need of highly qualified employees. With baby boomers starting to retire this is an ever increasing challenge for business owners. Losing the talent—to competitors or retirement—can become a question of survival, especially for smaller companies.

In addition too often talent isn’t used properly: The strong negotiator whose income is based more on their negotiating skills than their working skills. (You do understand that those people are in the wrong position at that company, right?)

Your way out of this dilemma?

Manage your talent

While most companies understand the value of mentoring, there is rarely one with a standardized process for it. And talent management is rarely existent.
  1. Plan ahead!
    Do you have a plan B when one of your top performers heads off? Most companies don’t!
    • Is your top performer already mentoring someone?
    • Do you have at least two candidates that can replace a leaving star?

  2. Focus, Focus, Focus!
    Reduce the number of key positions; create clear job descriptions. Too often nobody has a clue what the top performer really does and when she is gone chaos sets it.
    • Do you really want to be in a position that your business’ success depends on the goodwill of a former - maybe even fired - employee?
    • How can you choose the right person for the job, if you can’t even tell what the job is?

  3. Develop a talent pool
    Most companies neither have one nor have considered one. Is it a surprise that they fall behind?
    • Remember your plan B?
    • How do you know who to mentor when you do not have a talent pool?

  4. Transparent and disciplined hiring process
    • Is it clear who does the hiring and who has a saying?
    • Does your talent pool help to decide if the job can be filled internally?

  5. Review it!
    It is good to be prepared for a loss. It’s better to have measurements to predict one!



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When Asking For A Raise…

“Those that stick with one company forever get paid less than those that switch employers every once in a while.”

Sounds familiar? I hear this fairly often, mostly from IT guys and managers. But is this really the truth or just the result of bad negotiations?

When is the best time to negotiate? During yearly / quarterly reviews? And with the news full of layoffs and talks about recession—should one really negotiate a raise? Or stock options and bonuses?

Fact is—there is no best time. Of course you are starting with a handicap when everyone talks about recession, lay-offs and budget cuts. But on the other hand, can a business survive or even strive without the right people?

What are the biggest blunders?

  • Doing what everyone is doing. If nobody asks for a raise you go. If everyone goes—you have to wait for a better time. After all, you really do not want to be one of many asking for more…
  • Not knowing the own market value. It’s amazing how many employees have no clue! And telling your boss you need more because everything around you becomes more expensive or everyone becomes more is of no help either. She already knows that herself!
  • If you threaten your boss—she might very well take you by the word and you find yourself without work! Your boss rather looses you then her face. Better: “I know my market value and rather get it here than somewhere else!” .
  • The business is not about you. Besides you, does anyone really care how successful you are within the company? Prof that you your skills are an investment for the company; make sure, that your boss knows how valuable you are. Average work does not give enough reason for a raise. Be always better than your co-workers. Keeping notes allows you to prove your claims.
  • If your boss has to reason your raise to her boss or the board—the more ammunition you gave, the better your case. So tell your boss your biggest achievements, but make sure that you are not looking like a bean counter—that will backfire.
  • If you can’t get a raise now: Setup the next meeting! Or do you really want to wait forever for the next negotiation?
  • Stop being afraid! Are you ready to ask? Are you prepared to walk, if there are no options anymore?

Remember: Even the smallest raise is better than no raise at all!


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Do Top Managers That Do Good Work Deserve A High Income?

A great question indeed, but it leaves this one open: Should lower ranked employees that do good work get a high income too?

According to the CFO at one company I worked at: No.

He could not stand the fact that I made more money than he did. But he overlooked that I fixed a problem in 40 hours that their team hasn’t been able to fix in 3 months. Would I have been one of the company’s managers I sure would have gotten a big bonus, wouldn’t you agree?

We hear it over and over again; they deserve a good income because:
  • Top managers work 90 hour weeks
  • They produce good results
  • Their income depends on the success of the company
  • The bonus depends on the measurable added value
  • Movie and sports stars have a big income too
  • When not paid good enough they leave
  • Achievements count



An impressive list, but isn’t most also true for the lower ranked employees? But all she gets to hear is: “Leave, if you do not like it.

Truly the success of a company is not just the success of that one single manager on top, right? It’s the true leadership that gets the best out of every employee. Now we all understand why Jane Doe works in shipping and John in support. But if something goes wrong, they both will be willing to work more than the 8 hour shift. They both will be adding value—for the company’s customers. They both would leave if they get an offer that they consider better.

When the plebeians in ancient Rome went on to strike external Menenius Agrippa external was sent out. He told the fable of the “The Belly and the Limbs external“; convincing the plebeians to return to work. Many managers see themselves as the belly ensuring the survival of all. But without the limbs, a belly can’t survive either, right?

Wouldn’t you agree with those that say that the fable from the “The Belly and the Limbs” is one of the biggest social lies of human kind?

Serving only managers?

History is full of very valuable lessons. Why do so many ignore them?


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Emotions

Today’s daily question and quote of the day are about emotions.

When you ask a lot of questions (and I do!) you are always faced with emotional answers. Even to very simple questions like: “Do you have a plan?”

Very often you can see how the person that asked the questions get’s more than irritated by the answers given. Sometimes they step back, stop asking and miss the opportunity to analyze what happened. Every so often silence is an even more powerful way to get more and/or better answers.

But let’s step back and see why there is an emotional answer:
  • Jane is in state of denial.
  • Marc has other problems and is overwhelmed by them.
  • The person has no clue, but does not want to admit it.
    Isn’t it interesting how many people (including myself) rather say something wrong than keeping their mouth shut?
  • Pam feels threatened by the question and let’s her emotions take over.
  • Bill is following his own agenda and does not care about the question.
  • Ann didn’t understand the question and/or is not interested in understanding it.
  • Don is upset that he didn’t ask that question. His emotions take over.


Understanding why people get emotional over easy questions is step number one in taking charge.

Do you take charge?

How do you handle emotional answers?



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Winners Never Quit.

Or Do They?

If you have followed the last apprentice, you know about Michelle how quit in the boardroom. Mr. Trump had harsh words for Michelle and in the mind of many told her that she is a looser—because she quit.

Michelle on the other hand states in her blog how that experience has changed and improved her life.
Since Mr. Trump worked on a bigger project in Dubai—he wasn’t upset about Phoenix.

If Michelle’s decision was quitting—how come that Mr. Trump’s wasn’t?


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Benchmarks?

Republican leaders in Congress said yesterday that negotiations on a second war spending bill should begin with benchmarks of success for the Iraqi government, and possible consequences if those benchmarks are not met.

There is only one benchmark that should matter:

How many soldiers are killed?


April was the deadliest month this year. More than 100 American soldiers got killed.

So—when are we getting our soldiers back home?


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Being polite…

Being polite is a virtue and not a crime

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