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The Two Secrets for Creating GREAT Deals!

Howdy Construction Nation!

Did you ever wonder how master negotiators are able to negotiate deals when everyone else thought it was impossible? They can bring together warring factions to create never-done-before ideas that transform the people and businesses involved. This was the case when the business manager of a plumbers’ local union went out on strike. He wanted $7.50 more per hour. All the other plumber locals had already settled for a $2.50 per hour raise. So, they were calling to make sure that we didn’t give this business manager $7.50!!

The local went out on strike when we said no, we could not give them this raise, it was not fair to the other locals. The strike went on for months as we continued to come back again and again to the bargaining table. Eventually we were able to fashion a deal that gave the business manager what he wanted, which at this point was to save face – and he wanted to be seen as a good leader to his people. And we developed a “fair” deal for all the other locals.

We ended up creating a new classification we were sure no one would ever qualify for and gave it the $7.50 hour raise. This allowed the business manager to show his people that he got his raise. Then we also created a new tier of classifications and gave these an even lower rate than was already negotiated with the other locals. This would make everyone more competitive in the market. This too allowed the business manger to appear to be a great leader to everyone in the plumbers’ district council.

When the NLRB went to the business manager to get details about the strike, collective bargaining, and settlement, he sent them to ME because he trusted that what I put into my notes would be accurate and fair. He went on in later years to ask for my assistance for other challenges he faced.

When you work to do what is fair for everyone involved and really care about the people involved, you will be able to create solutions no one thought was possible! I’ve seen this many, many times over the past three decades.

This leads us directly to the two secrets I shared in my plumbers’ story: Fairness and Caring. These two secrets will give you the power to create great deals; whether you are leading a company, a team, a crew, a family business, or a government agency. These two secrets can transform your outcomes!!

When people know you are looking to do what is fair, they see this as doing the “right” thing and they will help you get there. When people know that you care then they care too and will give you their power and assistance to achieve what is needed.

Let’s explore these two transformative secrets!

Fairness is the underpinning of trust. It means that in every circumstance you stay committed to being fair. People get hurt and angry when they feel they have not been treated fairly.

I know when I walk into a room with a team that is stuck in conflict, that if they put fairness on the table, there will be nothing that they can’t resolve. I’ve never seen a team that could not figure out what was fair, given the circumstances.

When people feel things are not “fair” they either back off and disengage, or they charge ahead to try and win what they want – sometimes at all costs because there is a “principle” involved: “You can’t treat me, or others, unfairly.”

When a team KNOWS that they have the ability to figure out what it fair in any circumstance, then they burst forward together because they are confident that nothing will stop them. They have figured out together, what is a fair way of moving forward.

Action: See people as your “partners” not “opponents.” Always put what is fair given the circumstances on the table and keep it there as your guiding principle and work to co-create a solution to any problem, conflict, or decision that needs to be made. Make sure you lay out who will do what by when.

You can’t fake caring.

There is an old adage, that people don’t care until they know you really care. I’ve found this to be as true today as ever, and your people, customers, vendors, subcontractors, all want to know that you care. Yes, even your boss wants to know that you care.

Far too often we see (and maybe act) like things aren’t “personal,” it’s just “business.” But business is always personal. Creating an outcome at the expense of people is always personal. Yes, sometimes it is necessary; layoffs can sometimes mean that the business survives. You can still care and help those who must move on.

Sometimes it really takes a commitment to get people to believe that you care. But if you continue to show you care, eventually they will believe it. This is important when you have a long-standing adversarial relationship that you need and want to transform. Just be consistent in your caring behavior, no matter how much they “test” you.

Fear keeps us from caring. When I see people not caring about their teammates, or boss, or their job, I look to see if they are doing okay. A lack of caring can happen because they are afraid to care. When people are worried about themselves, they protect themselves. When you see me as a threat, caring is not on the table. A fearful person is not going to care about you; they are going to protect themselves from getting hurt.

But ironically, caring is paradoxical – by setting aside your own needs to do what is fair and good for all concerned, you will often get your own needs met – maybe even get more than you imagined.

One last word about caring. It can’t be faked! People will see right through you if you aren’t true about your care. But if you truly care from your heart – it can never be ignored.

Action: You’ve got to LOVE your team, your customers, and your stakeholders.  If you don’t, then you are not in the right place.  They deserve your deep care and appreciation.  They are trusting you.  They are giving you their life, resources, and abilities.  If you find that you can’t care, then it is time to move on.

Whenever you are trying to negotiate a deal with someone, remember these two secrets. Always look for what is a fair solution, this path will allow you to create a very durable agreement. And truly care about the other person/organization. By caring you will find ways to give everyone more of what they need. Do these two things and people will rise up and help you create solutions that might have otherwise been impossible.

Okay, Construction Nation, I hope you will work to use these two secrets this week to help you elevate your leadership game!!

Until next time,

P.S. Curious how you can improve your project’s chance at success?



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