Part II: Creating Win-Win Solutions!

By August 5, 2021No Comments

by Jim Steinlage, President & CEO of Choice Solutions

Team leaders may have an idea, but they don’t always know what workers are looking for, or expecting in regards to salary or other perks. It’s important for the organization to make sure team members’ anticipated outcomes align with performance and expectations, and that these markers have been discussed in previous reviews. There should be no surprises as to results versus rewards. Having a discussion where you work together to reduce differences will result in increased satisfaction to both parties. The outcomes are only going to be successful if everyone feels they have “won.” The most important negotiating aspect is a premise that both parties are desiring positive outcomes.

Win-win negotiations are about finding solutions that work for everyone. Although, I’m using organizations and workers as examples in this blog, the same expectations apply to any type of business, sports, family, or personal negotiations. It’s something that seems so simple and makes sense, but I found out early on in the business world how many just wanted to win and only do what was best for themselves. It can be hard to control your competitive side but the focus should stay on finding favorable outcomes for both parties. It’s something I learned by watching my Dad and other farmers helping each other out. They always figured out how to negotiate sharing equipment, labor, and many other things and seldom were there disagreements, even though it always didn’t look fair. The most important part was those who did the negotiating felt like it was a win-win. Years later I learned to appreciate what my parents taught me about win-win negotiation.

Using win-win negotiating tactics in the workplace are a great way to build mutual respect and understanding. The result is happier organizations and workers, which translates into improved performance and productivity and happier customers.

Win-Win Negotiations

Win-win results are ones where each person feels like they got a win. For instance, a flexible workforce can be a win-win for organizations and workers alike. Win-wins don’t always require or give the appearance of being equal. One party doesn’t necessarily need to make a concession simply because the other party did. It also doesn’t mean it will be easy and that conflict and tensions will not be a part of discussion. But if both parties want to continue the relationship, then it’s possible to overcome these conflicts and reach a win-win.

Most of the time, all it takes to transform what seems to be a lose-lose or win-lose situation into a win-win is a little creativity, consideration, and cooperation. The desire is for both parties to feel they were heard and got something out of it, and for both to feel satisfied but even if they’re not thrilled with the outcome. These types of negotiations are particularly useful in the workplace, where organizations’ team leads have an ongoing relationship with the team members they hope to retain. Neither party should ever back the other into a corner as no favorable results will come from this type of behavior.

 How to Create a Win-Win Situation in the Workplace

As you begin negotiating, stay focused on a common outcome both parties are desiring and think through logical steps in the negotiating process to get there. This assumption is based on the premise that both parties are desiring favorable results otherwise the game is over.

  1. Take emotions out of the challenge. Organizations and workers are not enemies but teammates. They’re coaches and players interested in trying to come to a mutual agreement and win together. Staying calm, using understanding and good communication makes it easier to see common ground. When people remove their emotions from the challenge, they’re better able to handle conflict and can communicate in a clear and precise way that avoids misunderstanding and permanent, unrepairable damage.
  2. Keep an open mind to all parties’ position and be a good listener.  Everyone sees issues differently based on their personal values, status, beliefs, and even cultural background. There is a good chance that desires, emotions and personalities are different.  Organizations and workers often don’t know what the other is going through or tasked with.  For instance, if workers are pushing for additional resources, it may be impossible for the organization to fulfill that demand due to costs to retain company stability. This is especially true after the unknowns of the Covid pandemic.
  3. Identify areas where both sides can see some benefit. As coaches and players on the same team gain a better understanding of each other’s interests, a solution often begins to take shape. Take the previous example of resource needs – if workers learn an organization is not financially able to bring on additional staff, they could start to discuss other issues like work practices and training opportunities where benefits can be gained.
  4. Use unbiased objective benchmarks. Different underlying needs, opinions, and goals often cause people to interpret facts differently or look for the ones that support their negotiations. When it becomes subjective it ends up decreasing everyone’s willingness to listen. When possible, it’s best to agree on a measurable objective that provides a framework for any discussions.
  5. Have acceptable alternatives and be willing to meet somewhere in the middle. Sometimes people enter negotiations wanting it all or feeling they deserve it all. It’s rare that anyone gets everything they want. Having one or more acceptable options ensures everyone “wins” something.

When Everyone Wins

Effective win-win negotiations are the foundation of successful deals and help establish long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. This is particularly important when it comes to aligning workers’ demands and organizations’ needs. It feels good for all parties when you give and take to find solutions. When you strive to give team members the tools, support, and recognition they are desiring, you can create a culture where workers want to give you their best work. That’s a win-win for everyone –  workers, organization and customers all win!


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