Saturday, November 21, 2009

What criecketing partnerships teach us about corporate meetings and negotiations

When following Sri Lanka's 1st test with India in Ahamedabad it brought me home to one universal truth, sports has a lot to teach us.

At the end of the day it was one of those dull draws. However the lesson that I'm about to share is one that could make or break careers for some people.

Great cricketing innings are built on parnerships. If you take a partnership, be it 50 overs or test match cricket their is a universal pattern. When one batsmen is going at great guns the other just compliments and does not try to out do the one who takes the initiative and vice versa. In cricket there are 'passages of play' when one batsman takes over the lead role in scoring runs. Best partners then just rotate the strike! They do not try to match their partner with every storke.

When a partner finds it difficult to face a difficult bowler or to score runs, great partners take it upon themselves to face that bowler. They take over the dominance or they start negotiating the bolwers, minimizing the burden on the other batsman.

Now this sort of approach will both help us in making meetings more productive and negotiations more successful. Lets see how.

Haven't you come across countless situations at meetings where people go round and round the same thing without making any progress.What a waste of time! The point is that you can simply acknowledge the fact that you agree with whats been said AND add ONLY something new to the whole conversation. Next time around when you sit for a meeting, just observe of this fact. Besides when you absorb whats being said and then when you make your constribution to the conversation there is defenetely more value in it.

Group negotiations are ideal situations where this tactic could be practiced with good success. Say you are representing your company in a negotiation with another party. Your colleague is making an obvious point across to the other party which they vehemently arugue against. Rather than trying to join the band wagon you could stay quite analyze their reaction and then work your argument accordingly and present. Given it is a 'silent'voice waking up, they are bound to listen to your point of view.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My enemy's enemy is my friend

I was watching Robin Hood season three and above was the title of the eleventh episode. This is a line said by Guy of Gisborne to the fellow Robin Hood men when they question his motive of joining them. This made me wonder how this becomes true in a Corporate platform as well.

There are many instances in corporate politics where those who play politcs become friends with people whom they feel are undermined by their 'political' foes. Again this happens at a peer and subordinate level.

Let me explain the first scenario,

At a peer a level say at department head level, lets assume that Head of Department A has some professional issues with Head of Department B. Let us assume that A is a guy who plays corporate politics and B does not.

To confront B, A might start getting extra friendly with C,D, E & F who are fellow depatment heads. He might increasingly start spending more time with them building relationships both during and after office hours. With all on his side A might launch his attack on B which could have a severe impact on B.

Scenario two is where A uses a close subordinate of B to get at him. Lets assume X was a close confidante of B and since of late due to few mistakes on X's part or various other circumstances B has been critical of X. It is one of those passages in employement where X will have negative impressions about B. A siezes opportunity and becomes friendly with X and uses him to build a case against B.

I'm sure many of the readers must be familiar with these scenarios. Sometimes you would have used such tactics to your own advatge while some others would have been victims of such tactics or would have been pray and drawn to such political game play.

Those who are part of the corporate world and specially those who have just started out in their corporate lives need to be very concious of this fact. One needs to be minful of the motives of others.

While this does not mean that you refuse any type of friendship offered to you by a colleague of yours just be mindful when your new found friend(s) attempt to undemine a third party. Remember this does not happen bluntly. Be on the look out for patterns of discussions which slowly but surely targets individuals.

You might be draged on to Corporate Politics by those who cherish on such game play. More often than not until you are deeply in it, you just don't know it.