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June 27, 2014

Performance Reviews for Negotiation Success

Lifestyle

Jeff Cochran

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Performance reviews play an integral role in the success of any business, helping both employees and management to assess strengths and weaknesses and target areas for growth and skill development. One critical skill that is often overlooked by performance reviews, however, is negotiation. Rather than assessing negotiation, many companies subsume the skill under such headings as “persuasiveness,” “emotional intelligence,” or overall “effectiveness,” while others overlook the rubric altogether. At the same time, many companies are establishing negotiation training or influencing training programs. How can a business assess the success of such programs when they fail to review employee negotiation skills as part of their central performance review process?

Identify Negotiating Styles

When businesses fail to properly address and assess negotiation skills, they put themselves, their employees, and their business at a disadvantage. Negotiation takes place continuously throughout professional life, not only when trying to close the biggest deals. One key part of assessing negotiation skills is to determine the negotiating style of each employee. By naming negotiating styles, management is able to quickly sketch out a general model of each employee’s negotiation skills and weaknesses. One employee may have a distributive style, working hard to make sure each side receives as much of what they want out of negotiation as possible, while another may be conciliatory, able to close the deals, but often giving too much away. Knowing and naming different types of negotiation styles is the first step towards establishing a long-term review process.

Establish Skill Development Benchmarks 

Of course, companies cannot simply institute negotiation as part of the performance review process without preparing their employees. When adding negotiation to the performance review process, employers should start by establishing and explaining negotiation benchmarks for their individual company. What skills are expected of each employee when it comes to negotiating a deal? This can be a great time to perform negotiation training because the process can allow management to mark the level of negotiating skill an employee already possesses, providing a starting point for measuring growth as a negotiator over time.

Creating Great Negotiators 

The best negotiators know how to manage differences in ideas and values, make exchanges that increase value for the company overall, and focus on the overall goal of the negotiation without losing sight of the needs and desires of the client. These negotiators come prepared, communicate clearly, and continuously add value for their company through the negotiation process. These skills are within the reach of any employee with the proper training and oversight. For business success, now is the time to embrace negotiation skills as a central part of the performance review process.

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