How To Build A Team To Negotiate

It takes effort to build a team, but it just might be worth it
It takes effort to build a team, but it just might be worth it
Image Credit: 4ELEVEN Images

So how do you like to negotiate? Do you like to go it alone? Or do you like to walk into the room with a team trailing behind you? We all have our own personal preferences, but you can’t argue with the fact that if you can create a team for your next negotiation, you will have an easier job of it. In order to successful in a negotiation, more and more often you need to be able to work effectively as part of a negotiation team.

When Should You Build a Negotiation Team?

For each negotiation, you have many options of what negotiation styles and negotiating techniques you want to use and if you want to use a team. It may not always be obvious when you should assemble a negotiation team. You may want to consider creating a team for a negotiation in the following situations:

  • Complicated negotiations that require diverse knowledge
  • Negotiations with a lot of potential for creativity and value creation
  • Negotiations with multiple players who all have a stake in the outcome
  • International negotiations in which team negotiations are the norm
  • Negotiations in which there is sufficient time to coordinate a team approach

Going to the effort of creating a team can provide you with many benefits. We’ve all heard that in negotiation, two or more heads can be better than one. As compared with single negotiators, teams are better at effective negotiation strategies such as developing tradeoffs among issues, Teams tend to be better than single negotiators at exchanging information with the other side and making accurate judgments, and they also tend to reach better outcomes. Teams generally feel more powerful, less competitive, and less pressured than individual negotiators.

The tendency of teams to outperform single negotiators has been attributed to several factors, including the high economic goals that teams set for themselves, their heightened sense of competition, and members’ tendency to challenge one another’s views. It may also be important that those participating in a team negotiation keep track of one another’s behavior, while individuals often negotiate unobserved by others in their organizations. Monitoring tends to boost the social norms that stand out in a negotiation.

How To Build a Better Team

In order to create a good negotiating team you are going to have to make sure that your team is appropriately staffed. This means that you must identify appropriate roles and recruit the right people to fill them. There are four key roles that you have to fill on your team.

The first role is team leader. It’s important to appoint a team leader who is skilled in the principles of mutual gains negotiation. From the outset of talks, the team leader should be ready to guide participants into a discussion of compatible interests and potential tradeoffs.

Your team needs to have stakeholders. When we think of a team negotiation, we picture a group of people seated at a bargaining table. We need to view a team as comprising the broad array of stakeholders within your organization who will be affected by the negotiation’s final outcome. Make sure that your team represents the departments or divisions that have a stake in the content and process of the team negotiation.

During the negotiations, stakeholder representatives should keep their constituents’ interests and perspectives in mind. Such individuals should also keep stakeholders updated on the progress of talks and bring their ideas back to the team. By enlisting the support of potential deal blockers, your team can gain the mandate it needs to engage in problem solving aimed at meeting a multitude of interests.

Every team needs bridge builders. In negotiation, trust is required in order to achieve collaboration and value creation. Yet trust can be a particular challenge in team negotiation, where numerous people on both sides are meeting one another for the first time. For this reason, you need to include, when possible, an individual who has a positive relationship with team members on the other side or who has some understanding of their goals, metrics, and concerns. At the table, someone should be responsible for listening carefully to the other side’s perspectives, ideas, and interests and watching their reactions to proposals.

The last roles that you’ll need to fill are the technical experts. Your team should include individuals who have technical knowledge and experience dealing with the negotiating partners. Your team leader will have a sense of the specialized skills needed to maximize value creation.

What All Of This Means For You

When our next negotiating opportunity shows up, we are going to have to make a decision as to if we want to go it alone or create a team to help us get the deal that we want. If we choose to create a team, then we are going to have to do so very carefully and we’re going to have to make sure that our team has the right people on it.

When you are trying to decide if you should create a team for a negotiating opportunity, you need to take a careful look at the situation before you make a decision. If you choose to create a team, you may be able to get a number of different benefits. Teams often do better than a single negotiator. In order to build an effective team, you need to make sure that you have four important types of people on your team: a team leader, stakeholders, bridge builders, and technical experts.

Teams are powerful tools that we can use to get more out of our next principled negotiation. However, we need to understand that in order to make this happen, we need to take the time to build teams that can work together to achieve great things. If we do this, then the next time that we enter into a negotiation, we will have improved our chances of being able to reach a successful deal with the other side.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: What do you think the maximum size of a negotiating team should be?

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