Top Tips – Avoiding Common Negotiation Pitfalls (as printed in TheSource e-newsletter)

Thanks to the team from TheSource for their hospitality in publishing my article Top Tips – Avoiding Common Negotiation Pitfalls where I discuss 6 tips on how to avoid common errors in Logic during a negotiation.

Special thanks to Andrew, Brendan and Alice for their support and for putting together another great issue of TheSource e-news.

You can find the newsletter with many great articles here. The direct link to my article can be found here.


It takes two to tango…

Recently, I was reading the excellent book from Clive Rich titled “The Yes Book” and was reminded of a simple truth.

It takes two to tango!



When entering a negotiation we sometimes carry certain preconceptions e.g. that the other party has an open mind about the result or that we know what the drivers, wants and needs the other party has.

Well, it would have been nice to live in an ideal world but unfortunately, reality is much more complicated.

As Clive mentions in his book:

“For a negotiation to take place the following elements must be present:

  • There must be two or more parties,
  • they must at least be prepared to reach agreement,
  • they must have some interests in common and some conflicting interests to resolve,
  • Those involved must have the freedoms to meet each other’s needs,
  • Those involved must be willing to be explicit to some degree about their wants and needs,
  • Those involved must be prepared to compromise to some degree.” Clive Rich (The Yes Book)

The above is a useful list to have when entering a negotiation.

As mentioned here, embracing the second position is the key to an effective negotiation. This means that you approach each occasion without misconceptions or false assumptions but explore interests, needs, wants and attitudes for what they really are.



[Image courtesy of Aracelota /]


The 9 Elements of an Effective Team (Part 2)

Last week (Part 1), I listed the 9 Elements that make an effective team.

These are:

1) Clear Goals

2) Good Team Structure

3) Right Culture and Skillset selection

4) Trust

5) Good Communication

6) Positive relationships

7) Accountability

8) Leadership

9) Feedback

Then, I specifically explored the first 4.  Let’s now look at the remainder.


5) Good communication – Establish the environment for thriving innovation, participation and motivation within the team environment.

Conflict will come about. The important thing is to address it straight away and not let it eat away the foundations of the team.

Focus on strengths, frequent, positive and constructive feedback.

6) Positive relationships

The leader should give the example of taking risks and accepting that not all things will succeed. Then, praise the successes and support the missed targets enabling the team to lift their performances to the circumstances.

Some simple tips:

●     Select team members wisely.

●     Make choices based on merit.

●     Open communication channels between the team members. Each team member learning about each other is important so that each one appreciates and supports each other.

7) Responsibility and Accountability

Giving credit where it’s due but also holding people fully accountable for their actions or in-actions is always important.

As Roger Connors et al. highlight in their great book “The Oz Principle

“Individual and organizational results of people improve dramatically when people overcome the deceptive traps of the victim cycle and take the Steps To Accountability.”

But how do you identify if your team has such issues  e.g. if the team is trapped in the “victim cycle”.

A good first step is to observe if any of below practices are existent during the team’s interactions. Does the team:

  1. Ignore an issue or deny an issue exists
  2. Displays a “It’s not my job” attitude
  3. Engages in “Finger Pointing”
  4. Displays a constant “Tell me what to do” attitude.

8) Leadership

Maintain the context and scope of the team’s existence relevant and current to the shifting organisational goals.

Communicate the purpose and engage with each team member so that everybody understands how they fit in the wider picture and why what they do matters and affects the success of the company.

Lead by example!

9) Feedback.

Feedback is the underlying factor that ties everything together.

Unless there is a clear positive mechanism for non judgmental feedback loops then errors get repeated and eventually all the 8 other elements get affected.

A great feedback model can be found (here).


So, it seems that despite the varying nature of teams nowadays there are some elements that are common for every successful team.

Creating an effective team unit aims at a simple target best elaborated by Jim Collins when he described “superior work environments” this way:

“When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results.”

The above may seem quite intimidating at first but as suggested here, focusing on one thing at a time you will find that, not before long, the team will start entering the virtuous circle of effectiveness.

You can also find more resources on Team Development in previous posts dealing with measuring employee satisfaction, 3 essential targets for employee engagement, as well as, some thoughts on employee motivation versus employee engagement and why the latter is the real target.

Are there other elements you believe to be crucial for effective teams?

[Image credit:]

The 9 Elements of an Effective Team (Part 1)

What are the building elements and structure of effective teams?

Teams have varying demands bestowed upon them in terms of efficiently doing the pre-allocated work but also maximising contribution to the organisation and keeping up to speed with varying business needs. Different business environments have different team structures that work for them e.g. self-organising, rigidly structured, matrix, adhoc. There are though some elements that every team should possess in order to be effective. Let’s see what these may be.



The elements that are crucial for the well being but also the smooth operation and success of a team can be summarized as follows:

1) Clear Goals

2) Good Team Structure

3) Right Culture and Skillset selection

4) Trust

5) Good Communication

6) Positive relationships

7) Accountability

8) Leadership

9) Feedback

1) Clear goals – Why does the team exist?

As I have alluded to (here), one of the key ingredients for success is the alignment of targets and culture between the Organisation, the business unit and each individual team.

Imagine the Organisation as a rowing boat with each individual rower (representing business units or teams) being misaligned with the organisational targets and rowing out of sync. The boat will make very little progress if at all even if it manages to make some headway.

Now, imagine the same boat with each team, business unit in full alignment with the organisational goals and rhythm. That is how champion teams operate (this analogy comes from Ram Charan‘s book “What the CEO Wants You to Know”).

2) Good Team structure

As I mentioned above the teams in today’s world come in many shapes and forms e.g. project teams are common nowadays.

Hence, ensuring that the right departments are involved in the formation of the project team and formulating a team structure that compliments the expected outcomes is of the essence.

e.g.  when putting together a team with a creative target then having a design that is autocratic, rigidly hierarchical does not promote open communication of ideas between all members and will most likely not produce or heavily delays a good result.

3) The Right Culture and Skillset Selection – Identification and selection of the right culture of people and skillets that compliment each other and can work to the maximum benefit of the company.

This is an expansion to element number 2 noted above e.g. knowing that IT, Finance, Sales and Procurement need to be involved is one thing. Selecting the right people from within these departments is another. Usually, Projects teams need to have within them a wide selection of influencers in order to be effective.

e.g. discussing Project teams, it is important that members of the team include i) someone that can get buy in from Top Management (usually an executive leader), ii) someone with experience in the project field who can ensure that pitfalls are avoided and the  scope and available options can be fully explored and articulated and finally, iii) someone who has the relationship power to engage and get buy in from outside teams and departments.

4) Building a culture of Trust.

● Trust is a sine qua non for any effective relationship. Without it communication falls short of any meaningful exchange of ideas as time usually is taken up on resolving conflict and misunderstandings.

A couple of simple tips to build trust is:

● Do what you say you will.

● Be honest and embrace open communication.

At next week’s post (Part 2), I will discuss the remainder of the elements 5 to 9.



[Image credit:]

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