It is quite easy to see the problem of negotiators being involved in the deal, but not the act of putting the deal into practice.
The sales team who are committed to delivering on their target may not be that concerned about what happens at the implementation stage, or worse leave it to others to pick up the pieces when they over-promise or throw everything in to get the signature on the paper.
Or the buyers in “professional” procurement teams who drive down the price so aggressively that the work cannot possibly be done to the required quality, setting up complaints and relationship challenges down the line.
Compliance as part of the process surely must play its part.
My youngest daughter who has just started her second year at university has experienced the very same problems of fulfilment with her 4 housemates.
Before she went back only a couple of weeks ago, she had spent quite a lot of time over the summer in agreeing on the tasks that would need to be shared between the 5 of them (all female Medical Students, not that that has anything to do with the story). How they would deal with cleaning shared spaces, who would put out the bins, how they would pay for shared services and products (like toilet paper). I suspect that providing your own toilet cleaning and loo roll is one of the big growing up experiences in life. Like realising Father Christmas is not real and the tooth fairy is usually, a big hairy bloke looking for spare coins before creeping into your bedroom, it’s a sad and heartbreaking insight.
Anyway, they all agreed to a cleaning rota, deposited their hard-earned (not by them I’d hasten to add) coins in the bog bank tin and proceeded to the bar to enjoy student life.
Last night she called home and proceeded to rant about how the others were not living up to the agreed deal. Dirty dishes everywhere. Bin overflowing. Toilets encrusted (apologies to those of you with delicate constitutions) with effluent from both ends.
One of the girls said she didn’t think they needed a toilet brush as they would not be cleaning the toilets anyway!! For 4 years!!!
Whilst I giggled internally to myself (growing up is a long and intricate process) it did make me realise that how a deal works in practice is not limited to the world of work.
How do we resolve this?
Well, the first thing is to call it out. The number of times I have heard from my clients who have put well-structured deals in place, that the other side has not delivered the volumes they promised, or the skilled staff they had agreed, and have just carried on with the deal is remarkable. Make the other side at least aware of where they have overstepped the mark from the get-go.
Really importantly before you agree any deal is to spend time on figuring out implementation and the implications of things changing, going wrong or simply not being delivered.
Think about what problems may come up. Critically communicate a consistent and well-structured message about the deal, its terms and the spirit it has been entered into.
And don’t be afraid to go back to the negotiating table if one side is not living up to the agreed deal. Compliance to a none performing deal is not for the sake of the relationship, it is a destruction of it.
I offered to help my daughter with her challenge. She refused. Another part of growing up I guess. And one I am in big favour of.
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