Negotiation a key leadership skill, Ohio State expert says
Successful negotiating strategies can maximize workplace potential
Many of The Ohio State University graduates who will take part in summer commencement at the Schottenstein Center on August 6 are either entering the workforce for the first time or are leveling up their careers with advanced degrees and professional certificates.
There are a variety of strategies to maximize salary, benefits and promotion opportunities for both new graduates and working professionals, said Andrea Williams, director of The Women’s Place and an associate professor in the Department of English.
Learning to negotiate is an essential leadership skill, Williams said during a July 20 workshop presented by The Women’s Place at Hale Hall on Ohio State’s Columbus campus.
“If we’re saying that we want people who graduate from here and work here to be those 21st century leaders, the cutting edge, negotiation goes into everything,” she said. “It’s not only one of the leadership skills you need, negotiation may be the most important leadership skill you need. It helps you with diplomacy with others. It helps you to also be able to really value what is most important to you.”
Successful negotiations can potentially benefit individual employees and organizations as a whole, Williams said.
“It’s important for me to be able to support my team and to advocate for them,” she said. “So when I’m negotiating, I need to think about what does this mean for my team – what kind of space do I need, what kind of resources do I need?”
Williams outlined the four steps of successful negotiating:
- Knowing your value
- Know your target salary and benefits
- Know your strategy for how you’re going to negotiate
- Practice your negotiation skills
Sites such as Salary.com and Glassdoor.com can provide information on the salary and benefits ranges of comparable positions that applicants are seeking.
In preparing and practicing negotiation strategies, job seekers should anticipate possible responses that prospective employers may give when the job seeker asks for a higher salary than what is listed in the job description, Williams said. If necessary, job seekers should ask for time to think over a counteroffer that an employer presents.
When a prospective employee asks for a higher salary, “the employer may say yes, they may say no or they may say, ‘Not right now. If you come on board, this is what I can try to do for you in six months,’” Williams said.
To determine their value, Williams said, job seekers should assemble a portfolio that is more in-depth than a resume and will help them specify accomplishments from current and previous jobs, school and volunteer assignments and event-planning projects, Williams said.
“You want to make sure that you’re thinking about your full range of abilities,” she said.
In assembling a portfolio, projects that encompass numerous skills should be described in detail, Williams said.
“Keep in mind that the parts are greater than the whole,” she said. In planning an event, for example, “you worked with vendors; you set the run of show for the organization; you made the script for your supervisor, so you have communication skills; you designed the flyer or the ad, so you have communication, social media and design skills. Even one thing might mean that there are a lot of skills that are highlighted.”
Job seekers can also determine their value by outlining tangible results that their work produced, Williams said.
“One of the tools in our arsenal for negotiation that works really well is creating what we call ‘value statements,’” she said. “That’s when you start translating your skill set, plus what you’re building on, and what was the actual outcome of it? What was the problem you solved? What’s the action you took, then measure it with qualitative and quantitative results, and that’s your value statement.”
Williams said the strategies she outlined are based on the Work Smart program created by the American Association of University Women, which The Women’s Place has licensed in partnership with Ohio State’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Center for Belonging and Social Change.
The Women’s Place offers in-person and virtual sessions throughout the year, including programs presented in partnership with local community groups. For more information about upcoming events hosted by The Women’s Place and to view videos of past events, visit Womensplace.osu.edu.