Negotiation Coaching Program Details


Step 1: Match-up Meeting

Sometimes the Match-up Meeting is completed immediately following the Step Up to Negotiation seminar.  Most often, however, the post-seminar discussion is the beginning of a process of pairing a coach with negotiator.  Once that has been accomplished, the Match-up Meeting makes sure that everyone is on board with the purpose and direction of the coaching assignment.  It is important that the negotiator’s boss participate in this meeting.  That way there can be agreement on the coaching relationship, expectations, and progress assessments.  At this meeting the coach, negotiator, and boss discuss confidentiality and agree how to guard privacy and subject matter. (Click here to learn more about coaching from NGA.)

Step 2: Set-up and Contracting Meeting

At this meeting the coach and negotiator discuss confidentiality, accountability, and how the boss (and organization) will be kept informed of progress.  The coach and negotiator enter into an agreement about terms of engagement that will guide the whole coaching program.

One coach recently observed that coaching is “an alliance between peers” (Koonce 2010: 48).  After the terms of engagement are signed, the coach and negotiator begin the formal coaching program.  The set-up includes several parts:

  1. Sharing biographical information, discussion of decision-making and negotiation styles, and the negotiator’s history with the dispute.  The negotiator has an opportunity to fully describe the dispute.
  2. Identification of the parties involved in the dispute and description of each party’s participation to date.
  3. Review of all available analyses that have been conducted regarding the dispute and the subject matter at hand.  This review can be quite extensive.
  4. Sometimes, the coach will interview other members of the organization’s negotiating team to gain full perspective.  The negotiator’s boss will be interviewed to clarify the negotiator’s role in representing the organization and ascertain any limits to the negotiator’s independence.

Step 3: Assessment of the Dispute

During this step, the coach and negotiator will assess each of the involved parties.  Emphasis will be given to understanding the incentives each party has to negotiate, their likely alternatives to negotiation, sources of bargaining power, and negotiation performance in earlier conflicts.

Step 4: Establishing a Negotiation Strategy

Based on the assessment of the dispute the negotiator and coach will discuss possible strategies.  The objective of this step is to determine which strategies are likely to work best to forward the objectives of the organization.  The coach and negotiator will evaluate each potential strategy, comparing strengths and weaknesses in the context of the current dispute.  The negotiator and coach will discuss the selected strategy with the boss to ensure that the organization is fully behind the selected approach.

Step 5:  Building the Negotiation Plan

Once the strategy has been selected, the negotiator and coach will evaluate the resources available to carry through on that approach.  In reality, Steps 4 and 5 are so interconnected that they often occur simultaneously.  Part of the negotiation plan will include selecting other members of the negotiation team and understanding their roles and responsibilities.

Step 6: Implementing the Negotiation Plan

It is hoped that the first 5 steps can be accomplished before the actual negotiations begin.  However, that is not always possible.  Where negotiations are on-going while planning is underway, the coach and negotiator will endeavor to build the plan based on lessons being learned from actual bargaining.  When planning can be finished before negotiation begins, or in concurrent planning-negotiation scenarios, the coach observes the negotiator and provides feedback.  Under no circumstances does the coach undertake actual negotiations; those are the responsibility of the negotiator, boss, and organization.

Step 7: Evaluating Progress

The coach provides frequent feedback to the negotiator and boss about the progress being made.  This includes improvements in performance by the negotiator.  The coach also seeks input from the negotiator and boss about the progress of the coaching program.

This seven step coaching program is adapted from the outline provided by Richard Koonce, 2010. “Executive Coaching: Leadership Development in the Federal Government.” The Public Manager. Vol. 39, No. 2: 44-51.

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