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The Bad Apple : Part 1

Keith Stacey
The Bad Apple In Negotiation

Managers have a difficult job: they have to deal with people.  

A recent Royal Commission in Tasmania has uncovered a toxic culture within which bad behaviour flourished. Whistle-blowers were ignored and intimidated. These dysfunctional workplaces did not occur overnight, but gradually over time. People avoided conflict and did not address emerging bad behaviour when it first occurred. Tolerance can be perceived as permission and eventually endorsement.  

My experience in negotiations in many workplaces demonstrates to me, the root cause of a dysfunctional environment can often be traced to an incident in the past which was not properly addressed at the time and has been allowed to fester. While many avoid conflict at work, if it is treated as an opportunity to negotiate with the person or persons causing the problem, then solutions may be found to resolve the issue. Examples would include a colleague who never tidies up after themselves in the communal kitchen, or some-one who is constantly texting while in meetings. These issues may not be serious enough to warrant formal processes, but they may need to be resolved before they compromise the quality of a work environment. 

One approach that has stood the test of time has the acronym of BEER - making it easy to remember! It involves firstly describing the Behaviour that you wish to address. Then outlining the Effect that behaviour has on you, and the workgroup. Then describing your Expectations of the change in behaviour required. Once that’s understood, you outline the Result if the behaviour does change and the result of the behaviour if it doesn’t change.  

BEER is simple and effective. (Behaviour, Effect, Expectation and Result). In negotiation terms, the behaviour has become an issue requiring resolution. By describing the impact of their behaviour on you and the team, it provides clarity and urgency about the need to change.  

Sometimes the other party is unaware that they are causing others distress. The structuring of the other party’s expectations that change is required creates both a sense of urgency and a way forward. Describing the change required and adding an incentive if achieved, along with a possible sanction if not, creates a motivating force for successful change. 

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Bad Apple next week. 

Happy negotiating! 

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