Negotiation skills are key to careers and salaries

Two sessions on business negotiation and salary negotiations, led by Professor Malcolm Smith of The University of Manchester, highlighted the essential importance of negotiation as a key skill – for life and career. According to Professor Smith, everything starts with a negotiation, whether we like it or not. Some people take the time to learn the skills needed to extract the maximum value for themselves from every negotiation and achieve better personal outcomes as a result. Quoting 19th century Italian diplomat, Daniele Vare, who defined diplomacy as ‘the art of letting someone else have your way’, Professor Smith described negotiation as a business process - and not sales, selling or sales training.

Negotiation is the process of bridging two counter parties to achieve an outcome - negotiation skills are important and can be learned and supported with some simple tools. Although money is the prime measure of success in business, price is not the most important factor in a business negotiation. Value is a more significant factor and negotiation should focus on reducing the information asymmetry between the parties to create value – factors such as terms and conditions, payment terms, service support could form part of the package. The key to negotiating success? – according to Professor Smith, this involves leaving the ego at the door and being rational and calm, and treating negotiations as a mechanism to get the deal.


Salary negotiation workshop

Professor Malcolm Smith led a very interactive workshop for students and alumni on salary negotiation and covered all the angles from three distinctive perspectives - internal candidate, external candidate, and candidates who are currently not in work.

Applying for a new job is one of the most challenging negotiations but the basic rules of negotiation still apply in achieving the best outcome, including salary – before accepting an employment contract. Once a successful job candidate is in the role, then the contract is in force and candidates then have very little power to make any changes to the agreement. Negotiation tools are needed in advance of the negotiation process and with the abundance of online salary information, the candidate has increasing power in terms of knowledge about the potential employer and the market and industry salary rates/levels.