Sklar Technology - July 2018

When Employees Take a Summer Vacation Keep Productive Momentum

Can You Negotiate Like Your Life Depends On It? Lessons From an FBI Hostage Negotiator

Everyday life is filled with negotiations. In the morning, you may want a colleague to choose your favorite coffee place, and by the afternoon, you’re desperately trying to keep an angry client from cutting ties with your company. But few of us are asked to take on the responsibility of negotiating for someone’s life. Hostage negotiators

How does your business keep up productive momentum when employees jet off for a week or two? Every summer, this is a question that businesses all over the country try to answer. It’s also a question that impacts businesses differently depending on staff size and organization. Some businesses have enough folks on hand at any given time that the absence of a single person isn’t a big deal. But during the summer, the dynamic can change when more employees decide to take time off, especially one after another. When employees take time off, things are more likely to slip through the cracks, and productivity can take a hit. However, having well-defined vacation policies in place can prevent issues from developing at all. First, be clear about the time-off policy. If you have one department of six people, a reasonable expectation is that only two people from that department may be out at a time. The policy of “first come, first served,” is one of the best ways to approach this situation. It’s fair, and it encourages people to get time-off requests in early, leaving your team more time to plan for the absence. Second, implement time-off request deadlines. When you know a lot of people are going to want to take a few weeks off during the summer, ask that they put in their requests as soon as possible. It allows everyone time to plan so any work is delegated accordingly. On top of that, remind your team to get the requests in before booking any travel arrangements. That way, no one has to play the bad guy when a time-off request gets denied and a hotel booking hangs in the balance. Third, encourage taking vacation. Work-life balance is critical when you want a productive team. Sometimes you have to reiterate that vacations are important, as numerous studies have confirmed. Too often, employees don’t plan vacations because they don’t want to compromise their job in any way, or they feel guilty about leaving. But when people don’t take time off, that’s when productivity takes the biggest hit. The longer people work without taking time for themselves, the more likely they are to experience burnout.

are without a doubt the greatest negotiators in the world. With a human life on the line, a hostage negotiator must get 100 percent of what they want for 0 percent of what their opponent wants. How do they do it? Chris Voss, author of “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It,” claims that the secret is empathy. Voss didn’t master his skills in negotiation over coffee in the boardroom. Instead, Voss spend 24 years with the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit. Between 2003 and 2007, Voss acted as the FBI’s chief international hostage and kidnapping negotiator, handling over 150 international hostage situations. During his time with the FBI, Voss realized people are not rational beings. Driven by impulse and emotion, we tend to make irrational decisions. And if people are not rational, why do traditional negotiation strategies treat negotiating like a rational problem to be solved with facts and figures? As a hostage negotiator, Voss learned to appreciate the value of emotional intelligence and intuition. In Chapter 2 of his book, Voss highlights the simple tactic of repeating the last three words the person you’re negotiating with said. This tactic, called mirroring, demands active listening, and can make people feel like they are being heard and understood. Mirroring helps build rapport and improves trust between parties. Too often, we walk into negotiations with the mindset that, in order to win, we must become a puppet master and manipulate the situation. Instead, Voss recommends entering negotiations from a place of empathy. Being empathetic does not mean you agree with another person’s ideas, but that you understand why they hold their ideas. And when you understand, you can make sure you both get what you want. Voss’ strategies were developed in high-stakes situations, but they can be easily replicated in everyday negotiation. “Never Split the Difference” is a book about selling yourself, diffusing situations, and achieving the most desirable outcome. With lessons in emotional intelligence and intuition, “Never Split the Difference” can give you an edge in any situation.

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