Managers’ guide: Negotiation during performance reviews

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A performance review is a systematic and periodic process that allows employers to evaluate employees’ job performance, position and productivity in order to make sure that each member of staff is following the organisational objectives, does its job properly, feels motivated and integrated into the company. At the same time, performance reviews are extremely useful for employees, as they get the chance to negotiate their salary and a possible promotion, supported by evidence of their work and progress.

 As there are times when the interests of the employer and the employee do not coincide, conflict arises during performance reviews. Hence, tactful communication is essential and managers need to be able to handle sensitive situations successfully.

 So, which is the best approach?

performance-review-1The unitarist frame sees conflict as harmful and destructive to interpersonal relationships. In different words, the dimension I’ve discussed about in the previous article, AVOIDING CONFLICT, applies to this case. Could it work? I don’t think so. From a manager’s perspective, avoiding conflict means leaving an issue unsolved, fact that inside a company, can have severe repercussions upon all staff. This scenario could work only in circumstances where management and employee interests coincide.

 The pluralist approach suggests that conflict is inevitable and it totally discards the idea that managers could have the same interests with staff. I find this conflict frame a bit too radical, as during a negotiation flexibility should be essential, but at the same time, theorists claim that two dimensions, “collaboration” and “compromise” work at this stage, as the aim is to reach a mutually convenient outcome, fact that makes it a positive approach for managers.

 The interactionist frame of reference is the one I would recommend during performance imagesreviews. It sees conflict as positive and necessary. In such a context, it should be clear to both sides that conflict and negotiation will be part of the discussion, so acknowledging that is the first step in succeeding. Then, this approach encourages self-criticism, change and innovation, areas that should be explored in any performance review as they generate further development.

At the end of the day, the aim of this discussions, should be to find the best possible to solution in order to keep both the employer and the employee happy, fact that can only be gained by accepting conflict and using it as a tool to achieve progress.

If you want to find out more on this topic, here’s a really useful video :

 What do you think? 

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How do you handle conflict?

images (2)Conflict is part of our daily routine.  We live in a highly individualistic society, where strong personalities share views and opinions that often collide and generate debates, as each individual pursues to get the best possible outcome from any situation. The right to freedom of speech and expression allows us to complain, discuss, negotiate, and sometimes fight, in order to carry our point and to alter other behaviours and perspectives.

But how do people react to conflict?  Which are the most common conflict resolution approaches?

There are five dimensions that I am going to focus on and shortly describe to help you identify yourself with one or another:

  • Competing/forcing: At some point, we all come across individuals who tend to imagesimpose their points of view and always get their way, allowing no room for negotiation. This dimension is mostly common among men as it involves a sense of authority and rigidity, and it is quite difficult to handle or work with, especially at the workplace, where flexibility is essential.
  • images (1)Avoiding: Some people tend to avoid conflict, and theorists often link this dimension to women, as they are stereotyped as weaker, less opinionated and diplomatic, but  in my view, this is not an issue of genre; it depends more on cultural background, education and personality. Avoiding confrontation can become as harmful as forcing a point of view, as lack of communication does not solve a conflict: on the contrary, it aggravates it.
  • Compromising: This is a flexible approach where conflict_resolution250Wboth parties reach an agreement quickly and it can be extremely effective at the workplace, when there is no time to negotiate and debate, so finding the middle way is the most appropriate strategy.
  • Accommodating: Trying not to upset the other person. This approach is often encountered among individuals who dislike conflict and would rather give up their own opinions and beliefs in order to avoid confrontation and a possible fight. At the workplace, they enjoy a peaceful atmosphere and they like building close relationships with their co-workers, but in the long term, this approach could lead to internal conflict.
  • resolving_conflictCollaborating: Solving the problem together it’s the most appropriate, but at the same time, challenging dimension. In my view, it requires a great deal of positivity from both sides, which is often hard to find in stressful situations. The “let’s sit down and see how we can solve this issue” approach is an ideal as it often leads to progress, and this is the reason why conflict should exist: to identify, discuss, fix problems and move on.

Which dimension do you belong to? Do you switch styles depending on the situation?

 

Conflict as a PR tool: Ryanair

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Theory says that managing conflict is an essential part of PR, that helps companies build trustworthy relationships with their stakeholders. You’d normally think that as long as you keep your client out of conflict which might generate future crisis, you’re doing your job properly. Well, this is not the case if working for Ryanair, whose approach to handling conflict is quite controversial and it’s what sets the brand apart from its competitors.

Let’s take a look at one example: in August 2012 Ryanair failed to address a social media crisis, initiated by an angered customer who had complained about having to pay €300 for printing six boarding passes and won the support of 357,000 users on Facebook. What was Ryanair’s response?

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Absolutely nothing, as they choose not to engage with their target audiences through social media, being afraid, probably, of the massive criticism they’d have to face and respond to directly.

imagesEventually, everything got into the media, where Michael O’Leary, the CEO, called the client who started the conflict “an idiot who deserves to pay for her stupidity”. How to react to that? It clearly shows that Ryanair, as a brand, has no idea how to build an effective relationship with its key stakeholders, customers. Surprisingly, they are still on top as one of the most profitable low-cost airlines.

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How does this work?

Well, for Ryanair, the key issue is to be in the news, to be argued about in TV shows, so that people are aware of them and know that they are a convenient means of getting to their destinations. They basically use any kind of conflict to appear in the media and they clearly know how to take advantage of negative publicity.

Why are they successful?

Mainly because no matter how many conflicts they get involved in, their prices remain low and this is what matters to their customers. They do not expect outstanding customer service our impressive travelling conditions, they just care about the value for money.

images (1)The main question that arises is whether using conflict as a PR tool is ethical or not. Personally, I think that Ryanair has given up the idea of being seen as an ethical company due to the massive criticism they’ve been facing in the last couple of years and as long as their strategy of getting in the media with scandals, false advertising, hidden costs and frustrated customers still works, they won’t do anything to change it.

What is your view on Ryanair’s approach? Can conflict be used as a PR tool?