Negotiate for Better Learning Outcomes

How to use negotiation skills to produce meaningful outcomes.

IF YOU’RE AN INTERNAL Learning & Development (L&D) professional, you direct the action among management, consultants, and learners and need to use negotiation skills with each party to produce meaningful outcomes. Some key strategies:

  1. Negotiating with management: Set limits and be ready to trade. Know what’s out of bounds. If you’re asked to cut one day off a three-day course, respond with a proposal calling for participants to attend two 10-hour days with no breaks. Though unrealistic, this offer demonstrates your unwillingness to compromise the value of the training. And if you’re presented with a more reasonable request to cut four hours, set a condition such as asking for a seat at the upcoming planning meeting.
  2. Negotiating with consultants: Don’t get fixated on price. When an outside trainer is unwilling to lower her fee, find out where she can be flexible, such as adding a few training days. This will allow you to reach an agreement that delivers superior value for the dollar—and to be confident in justifying the investment to management.
  3. Negotiating with learners: Set conditions for their requests. If an employee wants to miss several hours of training, don’t automatically say, “Yes.” Instead, propose: If you agree to meet with the instructor privately for 30 minutes each morning on the final two days, then you can miss that time.

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