A little give and take, part IV

23/07/2020

In the final part of his series on cooperative behaviour styles, Wolfgang Fasching, Owner & MD at AGORA Consulting, describes the performance multiplying effect that follows leading by example

“If you are a diligent manager who knows your staff very well, you may have realised what type of characters you have in your team. In terms of cooperative behaviour, you may know who is more of a ‘giver’ or who is more of a ‘taker’. With this in mind, you may consider this in the composition of your teams if you start negotiations with clients.

It helps a lot if you consider yourself as being more like an internal coach and not the type of manager or boss that knows everything best. In a corporate climate that is geared towards cooperation, it is essential that members of management or corporate leaders lead by example. If managers call for cooperation, but fail to do it themselves, this leads to one of the most frequent reasons for demotivation of staff. As the old saying goes: ‘People chose companies, but leave bosses.’

In the current situation, it is one of the main challenges to keep good motivated staff on board. People are anxious to make mistakes and to lose their jobs. This leaves many paralysed. A natural reaction is to lean back and avoid any risk. ‘Those who do nothing cannot make failures.’

Another reaction is that people stop to cooperate. They stop sharing information, they stop supporting each other. As I argued in another article, this is often done unintentionally. If people are sceptical about the future of the company they work with, the tendency is high that they start acting uncooperatively. The reason is that there will be not enough time for the other colleagues to answer in kind. If people think of leaving or if people fear that companies may close down, their moral incentive to cooperate evaporates.

If these attitudes have crept into your organisation´s DNA then you are in trouble. 

Now is the time to act together, to share, to support, to exchange, to contribute. Our industry has to tackle unprecedented challenges. This can only be done, if all join in.

But how to achieve this?

Like in any negotiation it is a give and take. Negotiations are so-called non-zero-sum games. So, setting the right strategy can enrich everyone. And the wrong strategy impoverishes everyone.

As I tried to show in the last series of articles, the best way to deal with colleagues, suppliers, customers or staff is to adopt an attitude as a ‘giver’. With this attitude – at first to show a helping hand, to support, to give, but then to check if this behaviour is returned by the vis-á-vis – people are most successful in business. If you show his attitude as a boss or manager, your people will pay back in kind, keeping morale high.

To be a ‘giver’ also helps in negotiations with clients. Experienced negotiators have surely come across the Harvard-Concept. Its main idea is to integrate all aspects and interests of all parties involved in the negotiation. It stipulates that there are always two spheres in a negotiation.

              1)The content (the hard facts)

              2)The social relationship (the soft facts)

A good and stable outcome of a negotiation has to consider both spheres.

If we look at how people negotiate, it makes sense to return to our concept of cooperation. It shows that:

The ‘over-generous’ is focused primarily on the social relationship. He never wants to jeopardise it. This makes him eager to grant concessions on the content of the negotiation.

The ‘giver’ bridges this problem in negotiating strict and hard on the content, but soft or forthcoming on the social relationship. To keep this balance right is the true mastery of modern negotiation.

The ‘taker’ on the other hand is both hard on content but also on the social relationship. He often leaves scorched earth. People that negotiate in this way are often rotated from one client to the next as the building of trust is impossible. The form of negotiation looks more like haggling than to achieve a stable consensus.

As I have tried to show in the last four articles, the best way to move our industry forward at this crucial stage is to do things together, treat each other on a level playing field, build trust and find the win-win or the ‘cooperation yield’, as I called it. If our behaviour is rooted in sound ethics, we will find common ground.

What we should avoid at any cost is the quick gain at the expense of the other, believing that this will lead me out of the crisis. If your business partners feel hornswoggled, it will surely back-fire.

Only trust and cooperation can do the trick. This is my firm believe.”

Want to quiz Wolfgang? Email him at fasching@agoraconsulting.org