Negotiate the right way (Web sight, Sept. 9, 2002)

Stress, tension, name calling, backstabbing — that’s just between fellow managers before negotiations even begin. Preparing for a labour negotiation can either be a migraine-inducing event or a mutually beneficial experience. The following Web sites should help you arrive at the latter.

Computers can help negotiations

People often gripe about how long negotiations take and the added stress it causes. Well, this article proposes an answer — use technology. According to two case studies, using technology can save time, act as a tool to generate support for certain issues and shorten the tedious process of developing proposals. “Two case studies suggest that an electronic meeting room — a room equipped with computers for the negotiators’ use — can support contract talks more efficiently.”

Can’t we all just get along?

This article is proof labour and management can actually get along. A particular negotiation within the Pennsylvania health-care field is used as an example. Historically, health-care labour relations in western Pennsylvania were antagonistic and confrontational. However, a turnaround was made when both labour and management realized the impact their poor relations had on economic development. The story illustrates what can happen when union and management work together for a common goal. (I didn’t think it was possible, did you?) “Neither party wants a reduction in productivity that ultimately can lead to a loss of jobs,” the article states. Such a simple, logical thought, but one that many negotiators fail to admit due to an “us against them” mentality.

Perspectives from the mediator

For anyone who followed the B.C. labour dispute problems last year, this site gives you an in-depth look at the mediator’s point of view and recommendations. It’s surprisingly candid, quite lengthy and outlines the impact of a strike of such magnitude as the one in B.C. It addresses common negotiating issues such as contracting out union work, reduced hours and employee wellness.

Breaking down the barriers

To get over some common negotiation hurdles, has come up with 15 ways to arrive at an agreement. The self-service site covers everything from dealing with anger and embarrassment to selective perception. This is a must read before heading into the boardroom. (You have to answer one multiple-choice question to read the article.)

Negotiating the new economy

A very thorough look into the future of industrial relations and negotiations. This study was prepared as a background paper for the World Employment Report 2001, and covers everything from global collective agreements to negotiating intellectual rights. “As we move towards the information age, the old models of labour relations — with all the assembled baggage of collective bargaining between employers, workers and representative bodies — will become increasingly inappropriate to the new realities of work,” says the author.

Map your strategy first

Going into a negotiation without a strategy — whether it be a new collective agreement or dealing with a grievance — is like driving without a map. You might still get to where you’re going, but it will take a lot longer and you won’t be able to tell you’re going towards your destination. This article tells you exactly what you need to do, using what’s called an “interest map” to not only get to your agreement destination, but also to prepare for detours.

Scott Stratten is a speaker, trainer and the creator of He can be reached at [email protected] or (905) 844-2818.

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!