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Practical Negotiating: Tools, Tactics & Techniques by Tom Gosselin

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Distinguishing between Wants and Needs in Management Situations

Managers in organizations often have a want that they believe is the best or the only way to solve a problem. Take the manager whose department is expanding its service offerings to other departments within the company. She wants two new staff people to handle the extra workload. In a meeting with her boss and the director of human resources (HR), she discovers that they do not want to bring in new people. As you can see from Table 2.4, there is definitely a conflict at the want level between the two parties.

Table 2.4. Wants versus Needs in Staffing and Productivity
PartiesManagerBoss and the Director of Human Resources
WantsTwo new staffNo new staff
NeedsProvide additional services to meet demandMaintain corporate headcount and budget

The negotiation will deadlock if both parties continue to state and defend their wants without getting to the underlying needs. If, however, the parties ask a few key questions, they can discover some latitude in options to meet their needs. Some key questions can be found in the following discussion:

BOSS AND DIRECTOR OF HR:

What does getting two new staff do for you?

MANAGER:

It allows my department to meet the increased demand.

BOSS AND DIRECTOR OF HR:

How does that help the company?

MANAGER:

If we provide the additional service through my department, we can keep other departments (my customers) from having to find their own resources outside. The quality and security issues alone are worth ...

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