In any given business or sales career, the ability to effectively negotiate is going to be one of the most essential skills, throughout a variety of work-related tasks. If you’re unable to successfully negotiate with other parties, you’re unlikely to make the progress you were hoping to achieve — whether it’s through sales, advancing your own career, and other factors.
Taking this into consideration, you might feel especially motivated to help your team build their negotiation abilities. If employees have easier access to learning about negotiation, they’re considerably more likely to be proactive about improving.
Keep in mind that negotiation is rarely an innate trait. While some skills are related to inherent features of an individual’s personality, that isn’t the case for negotiation. Rather, the ability to negotiate is a skill that can be learned by just about everyone. Of course, in order to learn, individuals must first be provided with the necessary resources.
If you’re looking for evidence of the difference between virtual and face-to-face negotiation, research has actually been done on the topic. For instance: remember that, whilst you’re negotiating virtually, it’s more likely that your counterpart will believe you to be less warm or trustworthy, which can lead to fewer objective results. This is according to a 2005 article published in the Journal of Business and Psychology.
If you’re seeking out a way to give your team those resources, one option is to establish a negotiation center of excellence — however, with a project of this scale, it can be difficult to determine how and where to begin.
What Is a Negotiation Center of Excellence?
Perhaps you’re already familiar with the idea of a center of excellence (COE). In essence, the purpose of a COE is to help workers grow or learn within a particular skill set — you’re providing them the resources they need, in order to continue developing an important skill or area of knowledge.
A COE can take the form of either a shared facility, a team of professionals, or another type of entity. Whatever shape it takes, a COE will strive to provide those involved with leadership, information, and guidance on best practices, research, training, or other forms of support in a particular area.
The idea of a COE is broad and can apply to a wide variety of different skills or focus areas — this includes negotiation.
What Does a Successful Negotiation Center of Excellence Look Like?
To start, there’s no singular form that a negotiation center of excellence (NCE) should take to succeed. Rather, you should adapt the format as needed, to best suit the conditions and needs of your workplace. This might mean that the organization of your NCE will develop and change over time — that’s perfectly okay. At any given point, just ensure that your top priority is to guide your workers toward better negotiation. Trial and error may be necessary along the way.
To get your NCE off the ground, there are some core services worth considering. For instance, you could develop your very own courses on negotiation, before distributing them to interested individuals. One of the most efficient ways to improve negotiation skills is through practice and experience. Rather than all of this practice occurring in high-stakes scenarios, it’s helpful to give workers a chance to gain negotiating experience, without anything on the line. Through well-developed courses, that is what your NCE could successfully achieve.
In a similar vein, you can also arrange various negotiation seminars, providing workers even more opportunities to grow as negotiators.
Further, for your NCE to succeed, it’s best that the programs and resources be as accessible as possible. The simpler it is for individuals to access these resources, the more likely they are to actually utilize them. If no one is taking advantage of the services offered by your NCE, then there’s little point in the program existing. So, ensure that the existence of your NCE is common knowledge, and try to make the programs as straightforward and easy to access as possible.
That being said, it’s a wise idea to make NCE courses and curriculums remotely available. Virtual or remote services are becoming increasingly common, and this increased level of convenience is practically becoming the norm. Let this development be reflected in how you choose to run your NCE. Rather than relying exclusively on in-person training courses, try providing workers with a convenient remote option. The more forms your NCE takes, the more accessible it’s going to be, to a wider population of negotiators.
In addition, rather than simply offering courses, it’s also possible to create pamphlets or other resources for workers — these are resources that individuals should be able to access at any time, whenever they need guidance on a particular facet of negotiation. Consulting services are another possibility if you have the ability to organize them.
Overall, if you’d like to help your workers thrive in the workplace, it’s important to help them grow as negotiators. Through improving their negotiation abilities, individuals can work to improve overall job performance — after all, negotiation shows up in a number of areas, from sales, to securing clients, to requesting a promotion or a raise, and more. Establishing a negotiation center of excellence is one of the most efficient ways to provide workers with valuable resources or experience, which they can use to become stronger negotiators.
There’s no one way to establish and run an NCE — instead, you should allow the program to grow with your employees, continuously providing them with the best and most accessible services.