5 Essential Strategies for Quick and Fair Negotiation Outcomes

In a highly transformative and disruptive arena such as franchising, dispute resolution methodologies need to be robust yet flexible.  ‘Negotiating for what it’s worth’ encompasses principles that enable quick and effective identification of key issues so a speedy resolution can be reached.

Here are 5 Essential Strategies for Quick and Fair Negotiation Outcomes:

  1. Set Boundaries for Communication

Identifying rules of engagement for all parties is an important step to ensure that communication avenues are constructive and do not contribute to conflict in a negotiation process. These boundaries include easily identifiable behaviours which must be adhered to and appropriate, agreed actions to be taken if these boundaries are broken.

  1. The power of relationships

All negotiations begin long before a meeting is called. How can we possibly understand another party’s point of view if we don’t have any relationship with them at all? The stronger the relationships in the network, the more points of commonality that can be established to provide a strong foundation for any discussions.

The needs of franchisees in a regional setting may be totally different to the needs of the franchise businesses in major cities for a particular issue. Good relationships between all parties in a franchise network enable a better understanding of varying needs which means more time can be spent on identifying shared needs and establishing a level of agreement in the group.

Although all needs may not be able to be met for a group decision, at least all needs should be considered and discussed to reduce conflict and increase the likelihood of agreement on the final decision.

  1. Providing different avenues for feedback from stakeholders

Often, when there are different opinions on business directions for franchise networks, face-to-face meetings or conference calls are held to enable feedback from franchisees. This approach may provide the perfect environment for ‘D’ and ‘I ‘personalities ( DISC), for those who are happy to speak up in a public arena, but it does not allow for the other high percentage of the franchise network who prefer to share their opinion in a more private environment.  The result of such oversights is that may opinions of a franchise network are left unexpressed and unheard until after a decision has been made. So, while a franchisor may feel they have taken all the necessary steps to enable feedback, there may be several disgruntled franchisees left feeling unheard, frustrated and unhappy due to their lack of input in decision making. This frustration can quickly contribute to a negative culture in the network if alternative feedback loops are not provided to all stakeholders.

Listening to franchisee feedback and input for decision-making is a key element for successful implementation of any business process across the network. Although some decisions may be mandated, when choice and input is requested in the process, it is important that all stakeholders are given the opportunity to be heard. Conflict in franchise networks can arise from franchisees’ frustration at not feeling heard or included in the franchisor decision-making process.

  1. Identify Underlying Issues

Sometimes parties will perceive an event  or situation very differently and information can be distorted, generalised or omitted. This may be due to past events that have occurred between stakeholders, or it may be to protect individual points of view and it may be conscious or unconscious. Often such issues are not expressed overtly in group discussions therefore researching and understanding opinions on past, present and future events between stakeholders is an important part of the process in dispute resolution. If these issues are not understood and addressed, the chance of reaching agreement in any conflict is diminished. An external, neutral party may be necessary to enable successful negotiations when levels of trust and rapport between parties are low.

  1. Option Generation- AND versus OR

Often options are presented as one idea ‘or’ another, particularly when there are strong emotions associated with a stakeholder’s point of view. These self-focused options are less likely to be accepted by the other stakeholders due to the lack of all needs being addressed in any one option.

Providing the opportunity for a group to come together to discuss potential options in a negotiation increases the chances of an ‘AND’ outcome which encompasses all needs and provides new, innovative options which may not have been considered previously. Allowing all options to be considered increases the chance of acceptance and consensus being reached within a franchise group.