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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Is Fair Negotiation with Higher Management Possible?

The shortest, simplest and the best answer to this question is - "No".

What are the reasons for this to be the case?

The jobs in the higher management layer are created with just two objectives:
  • Allocate resources (staff, budget, infrastructure, etc.) to various activities being performed in the organization in the most cost-effective manner. In some sense the core strategy which drives this objective is "rob Peter to pay Paul".
  • Make sure the various activities being performed in the organization get performed with least amount of resources (staff, budget, infrastructure, etc.). In some sense the core strategy which drives this objective is "get a bigger bang for the buck".
The senior management is always under pressure to live up to the above two objectives. And this is of utmost priority for people in senior management for it ensures they manage to save their own jobs.

Unfortunately, senior management would generally not know about the close-up shot of anything in the organization and would generally just have the bird's eye view since they are hard-pressed on multiple and at times conflicting priorities.

This means that their decisions are at times forced down the throats of the "common employee".

The power of higher management is derived from their titles and big-sized chairs (and even bigger-sized egos).

At times, this may border arrogance, though in the progressive organizations such decisions are forced using refined methods like branding an employee who persists in fighting for more resources as a "poor listener" or a "non-performer" or even worst "not fit to be promoted".

Questioning and challenging senior management is akin to revolt, especially if done in a public forum. And questioning and challenging by a new hire is nothing short of "career execution".

Corporate world has millions of stories of "corporate execution". Right or wrong, it is a reality in most organizations - whether small or large.

Small organizations adopt crude means (as the manager/CEO are the primary owner) whereas big organizations adopt refined means (using terms laced with all those good, nice words and sound-bites that the senior management are fond of and all senior management wannabes have to become fond of).

In light of what is described above, any and every negotiation with higher management is never bound to be fair. When they are asked to provide more resources, their first question will be "can we try to get a bigger bang for the buck?".

If that can be proved to be not possible somehow (which is an uphill task), the second question that would come up is "can we "rob Peter to pay Paul?" - meaning can resources be spared from someone else?

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