In his book Bargaining with the Devil, Harvard Professor Richard Mnookin probes the challenges and options available when negotiating with “a devil” – anyone you perceive as a harmful adversary. The Devil Brad

“The devil” is usually a traditional “power-based” negotiator who is win/lose orientated, adopts extreme positions, makes small concessions, and uses threats as a key tactic to enhance negotiating leverage. Sound familiar?

Power or “positional-based” negotiations have dominated Australian workplace relations and remain a feature of enterprise bargaining – in a system which, to be fair, legitimises the threat and reality of industrial action.
Continue Reading Bargaining with the devil: in whose interest?

So, your star employee has resigned. What happens next can be crucial for your brand.

The way a business responds to the resignation of a star employee is a touchstone of successful HR leadership. Employees, competitors, customers, and other key stakeholders (as well as your falling star) will be all eyes and ears about how you (HR) and senior management react to the news. HR 101 teaches us that recognising an employee’s decision to move on is part and parcel of business reality – but is there merit in leveraging the process further?
Continue Reading Breaking up is hard to do

In our article about the 7 lessons for successful bargaining, we wrote that successful bargainers seek to control the bargaining agenda. They do so with a view to achieving their ultimate goals. But we also wrote that successful negotiations also involve planning in advance for BATNA [Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement] and fallout. A key challenge in achieving change, especially when it comes to the human beings involved in workplaces, is how to deal with a situation that isn’t panning out as hoped. Do you have adequate contingency plans?
Continue Reading Flying through change – knowing and planning for contingencies

This week we suggested a ‘kitchen table’ letter for a client in the midst of a bargaining impasse and a swirl of industrial action.

The kitchen table letter is one sent to the home of employees. Its aim is to ‘speak’ directly to the employees and potentially others in their family.

It reminds us of a manufacturer that bargained for most of last year. A ‘kitchen table’ letter was a small but important part of the mix.
Continue Reading The Bargaining Coach: Lessons from a brave manufacturer

Adversarial debate has been the key form of advocating for claims in enterprise bargaining in Australia. In traditional power based negotiations, debate has its merits and place. Arguing for one’s position is invariably a necessity but it is not the be-all and end-all.
Continue Reading “Please tell me who and where?” – The power of questions in bargaining

The enterprise bargaining process has been criticised for its failure to deliver productivity improvements to business.  Whilst enterprise bargaining is premised on the idea that employers and employees will make enterprise agreements that deliver such benefits, in return for other trade-offs, often the process can be an inflationary one for employers who end up only with an increased cost base.
Continue Reading Productivity to be front of mind under proposed bargaining law amendments