Posted January 22, 2018

Exclusive: 75 percent of your people will never be able to do this — negotiate

Here are 12 qualities to look for in new hires to help them bridge the gap.

Barry Wright is the director of Grosvenor USA, the U.S. division of Grosvenor Training Services Ltd., a global organizational and executive development firm based in West Sussex, England.Can your staff ask the necessary questions when they need to? Why? What? How? When?

I believe most cannot. As a trainer, I speak with experience because, candidly, most training does not work. I combat this by obsessively following up with attendees about everything I have taught in my workshops. By engaging in post-learning, I also discover that the minority of attendees are the ones who use these skills, even though the entire group learned the same exact principles.

So, what is the business owner or leader to do? Although it may seem feasible to motivate the uninspired majority of staff, there are two potential options: change the people or change the people.

Let us start with the former. These are the qualities you should to look for in new hires:

  1. Recruit people who do not have a strong need to be liked. If they have a dog, so much the better. The unconditional love of a canine will easily take care of that need.
  2. Target prospects who have the discipline to plan, check facts, test their assumptions, and are prepared to question their own perceptions. These skills are vital.
  3. They must possess good business judgment.
  4. Risk takers make better negotiators. Search for examples of extra-curricular activities outside of work that may demonstrate this characteristic. Using this methodology, a mountain climber would be a better choice than a golfer. Think Richard Branson.
  5. They have an understanding of how the game is played. In other words, they know what to do at the right moment.
  6. They have the ability to debate with the attribute to think clearly under pressure, because ambiguity is always hanging closely overhead.
  7. Seek individuals who possess physical stamina with a pleasing appearance.
  8. They understand patience with an equal sense of urgency and they’re comfortable with different cultural styles and attitudes.
  9. They genuinely care about people and, perhaps more specifically, they have an interest in the other side doing better than perhaps they themselves thought they could. In other words, great negotiators expect a lot of themselves whilst being overly concerned that the other side would always want to work again with them in that negotiator role. Perhaps it’s an innovative gene that is always causing them to seek the better outcome for both sides.
  10. They are great team players. They understand the needs of other stakeholders who may just need a little persuading to create an aligned organizational position. This can be tough on you as a leader since you may find yourself negotiating as much with your own staff as you wish they would with external parties.
  11. I would guess that 25 percent of the folks who are working for you are typically going to be generating 80 percent of your bottom line. These all stars will have great balance, can laugh at themselves, and do not take things too personally.
  12. Persistence, determination, accountability, and commitment are highly desirable traits. Look for someone who can withstand pressure and is willing to use power politics when necessary.

The previous 12 attributes will provide a good framework for seeking new blood to assimilate into your current team. With these traits, you can have them to perform work in purchasing, account management, or, heck, even your job of running the place.

For those of you who have staff you wish to cultivate in terms of professional growth, let me give you some free tips from our Negotiating Effectively workshop.

  • How you think is everything — Aim higher, and you will definitely do better;
  • Be prepared to make concessions — It’s useful to have a well-prepared list of what you would deem in exchange for those concessions. Ensure that every time you give, you receive something in return, quid-pro-quo;
  • Gather the necessary information — Ensure, in advance, the collection of accurate facts, insightful data, and solid reasons to believe.
  • Value — Too many of us are too full of our own stories, failing to fully appreciate what is important to the other side. I suggest each negotiation is like looking at a snowflake or fingerprint. No two, like a successful negotiation, are going to be identical. Learn what is important to the other side and talk a lot about how you will provide that.
  • Information gathering — Do not gather information when you are at the negotiating table but months earlier in those less formal encounters.
  • Develop your skills — Work on developing the listening and presentation skills vital to successful change of behavior.
  • Find an Exit — Learn to walk away from non-acceptable outcomes. In other words, try to figure out as many ways to say “No” without doing so, but still retaining the relationship.

In 2018, creativity should not be at the bottom of the list. However, sometimes it is impossible to find a better deal when there are simply no other options. In these situations, we are required to look for new and innovative ways to reach agreements that satisfy the goals and objectives of both parties.

Sometimes, with well selected people as well as the right skills, this will really work. CS

Barry Wright is the director of Grosvenor USA, the U.S. division of Grosvenor Training Services Ltd., a global organizational and executive development firm based in West Sussex, England.

On the 4th of July, 1981, Barry relocated to the United States from his native England after a remarkable success as one of the U.K.’s top salespeople in the highly competitive office equipment/supplies industry with Xerox, Pitney Bowes, IBM and VGC Corp., where he applied his sales and leadership expertise to coaching and training others.

Barry was educated at Wimbledon College, London, graduating with a H.N.C. in Business Studies. He has resided in Paris, Brussels, and Toronto and now lives in Los Angeles. Learn more at