Special Issue on: Creating Win-Win Outcomes

In the past, organizations had clearly drawn lines of authority. Senior management had access to information, resolved problems, and made decisions. Others in the organization acted on these decisions, working mostly with people in their own departments.

In to day’s intensively competitive business environment, this type of top-down structure is too unwieldy and inefficient to produce results. Instead, people at all levels of an organization participate in solving problems and making decisions.

In other words, the ideas that drive an organization come from everyone, not just from upper management. As a result, people in various areas and at different levels of an organization need to collaborate to turn their individual ideas into reality.

For your own ideas to succeed, you need support from a network of people. Persuading and influencing, is the key to winning that support, which presents new openings and challenges-in today’s workplace.

To win support for an idea, you need to convince people to change their thinking and often their work habits as well. Since most people tend to resist change, winning support for an idea, even a compelling idea, may be challenging. It takes determination and skill. You may find it hard to convince someone that your idea is based on firm information and that it will work; persuade people that your idea will benefit the organization and them personally so they will want to be involved; link your idea to benefits that interest people you are influencing; and understand the difference between influencing and manipulating; avoid isolating people by coming on too aggressively; remain receptive to constructive criticism; respond positively and persuasively to negative commentary and build relationships you will need in the future

The goal of creating win-win outcomes is not simply to get your idea implemented, but to find ways your ideas can work for everyone involved. In today’s workplace it is an open market for new ideas. This article will ensure that your best ideas get the attention they deserve. In this part we will discuss why we need to create a win-win outcome. The next edition will discuss the how’s of creating a win-win outcome.

Plan the best approach.
Good ideas will not sell themselves. It is up to you to show how your ideas match people’s needs. Plan to take time to determine exactly what you want to accomplish, whose support you will need, and how you will show that your idea deserves support. When you are trying to win support for an idea, remember that any type of support needs a firm foundation. Before you can influence someone successfully, you need to lay this foundation by assessing the situation carefully and finding a way to meet the needs of everyone involved.

Establish mutual involvement in the situation.
When you are influencing someone, begin your conversation by explaining how the situation affects both of you and how you both have a stake in finding a solution. Once the other person feels involved in the situation, he or she will be motivated to listen and participate-which is essential for reaching a win-win outcome. Most people will not give you their full attention unless they see a need to do so. By demonstrating that both you and the other person have a stake in the situation, you will establish a reason for them to be receptive.

Explain your recommendation and its benefits.
When the person understands that you both have a stake in the situation, they are much more likely to listen to your proposal. Be straightforward. A good proposal includes specific benefits-how the recommendation will help the other person, the organization, and you. People buy into ideas for their own reasons. Some will be interested in how your idea will benefit the organization; others will want to know how it will benefit them personally. And since most people will wonder what your agenda is, they will want to know how your idea will benefit you. A good presentation of your idea will include benefits in all three areas.

Ask for reactions and address concerns.
Since a part of influencing is to show how your recommendation meets another person’s needs, you should take active steps to get honest responses. Probe for both positive and negative reactions. Hidden concerns may surface later to hurt your proposal. By probing for honest reactions, you can build and improve your recommendation until you reach a win-win outcome.

Without input from the person you are influencing, you can aim for a win-win outcome, but you’ll never know if you are on target. If you do not deal with someone’s concerns, you may never get full buy-in. That is why it is important to make sure the person understands your proposal, to listen carefully to their comments, and to address their concerns.

Ask for the specific support you need and explain what you will do in return.
When you ask for a specific commitment of time, money, and other resources, you will learn whether you have really won the support you sought. To ensure a win-win outcome, offer something in return for the support. You might offer to take on some of the work or to do something that will make your idea more valuable to the other person.

Many people find it difficult to ask for what they need since the answer might be “no”. Instead of being direct, they hint and wait for the other person to volunteer support. As a result, they rarely get what they need. The best way to gain people’s commitment is to be straightforward and specific about what you need them to do.

Agree on an action plan.
Without a clear plan, good intentions are not always attained. Seal your agreement by reviewing the agreed-upon actions and setting a realistic plan for how to proceed.

Once the other person promises support, you have almost reached your goal. But you still need the actual support. To help ensure that you get it, work with the person to develop a specific action plan.

Next edition we will explore how to make this happen.

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