This is Why You Need to Negotiate Your Business Career

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You are responsible for your own career. Do you think about negotiating in terms of your long term career? This commentary offers several ideas to consider as you think about what you are doing, what you want to do and how to negotiate not just for today, but for the long term with your career.

We have all been taught to work hard, do your best, have a positive attitude, develop your technical and behavioral skills, but what about negotiating your career. Do you think of this strategically? Do you ask yourself, what are my passions? Am I building career positions that allow me to expand my possibilities for the future? Did I negotiate my last position as well as I could have, and are there things I might do differently in the future? Here are some ideas.

Focus on the long term

By this I mean, consider advice I gave to my employees. “The job you will be doing five years from now does not exist today. What do you need to do to be ready for that position?” Think about this. Are you simply doing a good job at what you are doing right now, or have you thought about enhancing your skill set, obtaining additional credentials, taking on activities outside of your comfort zone focusing on becoming a better leader, manager or technician? We live in a competitive world and if you are staying the same while others are getting ahead, you are by definition falling behind. HR focuses on the long term. Shouldn’t you do what you can to enhance your skill set?

I have also suggested consider applying for a position like investing in a stock. When investing in a stock, look at the financials, consider growth, consider market share, consider new product development and then decide if you would invest in that stock long term. When considering a new position or employer keep these thoughts in mind too. With changing times, think of the new position as something you may do for the next 2 to 5 years with the idea that you will need to expand your horizons once you have learned all you can from that new position. When negotiating with an employer consider negotiating for enhanced training, or education to continue to enhance your skills.

Negotiate the position

At one point in my career I was heading up a group of expert witnesses and technical personnel. I was asked if I might be interested in heading up a new research and development team. This group had not existed before. Starting up something new like this seemed like a very cool challenge. However, I paused and said, if I was to head this up, I wanted to be able to hire PhD statisticians and economists. I wanted to be able to hire the best. There was a pause by my employer. The organization had to think about this. How much were they willing to invest in people for this unit? I also asked for additional funds for developing the culture with significant resources devoted to technical training too. They came back and indicated this was acceptable. I applied for and took the position when it was offered. It was a real challenge to bring up a brand new unit with issues from space, technology, culture and value added research and analysis. Three years later there were about 30 such units nationally and the organization decided to cut back on these units. We were reduced to 6 locations. Our unit remained given the value added to the organization. It paid to have requested PhD technical people for the group and to work continuously to enhance skill sets behaviorally and technically. You can read many articles on how to negotiate a job offer. The key is knowing what you want, how to say it and when to say it.

Negotiate the team’s success

Besides having the right people, it was very important to understand who the customers and stakeholders were and their perspective of success. Before applying for the position, I spoke with key stakeholders in the organization to see what their perspective was for this new unit. Expectations were very high. It was important to keep expectations in check. Under promise and over deliver. Develop a process to make sure you keep stakeholders informed of progress. Educate stakeholders on additional needs you have of them and that this indeed is a partnership going forward. By being response to stakeholder’s expectations and being able to deliver quality results, this significantly enhanced the reputation of the group. Four years later I went to another position taking on a very different challenge of being a controller. You never know where you may end up. Eventually I became an executive. The various positions I had over time as an engineer, business valuer, front line manager in three different positions, operations team lead in the research unit and controller gave me a great background to be an executive with responsibilities across an entire organization.

I found that taking on different challenges outside of my comfort zone gave me an opportunity to enhance my career long term given with an ever increasing set of challenges and responsibilities that allowed me to grow personally and professionally. Keep that in mind for yourself too. Negotiate the team’s success.

For an interesting article with additional thoughts on a similar commentary see this Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation article. If I can help you simply contact me.

Michael Gregory, NSA, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court is an international speaker that helps others resolve conflict, negotiate winning solutions and inspire leaders. Mike services clients business to IRS, business to business and within businesses. On point resources are available online at www.mikegreg.com and check out the blog. Mike may be contacted directly at mg@mikegreg.com or at (651) 633-5311.