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Talent: do you have what it takes?

August 24, 2020

Rapid adaptability and a readiness to change: those are critical characteristics if we want to flourish in times of uncertainty. So that means we must be ready to do things differently, to respond to change by quickly grasping the ways that our work and output must adjust.

Not everyone gets this – many feel challenged or even immobilized by change, especially those whose job role and training has focused on avoiding risks and ensuring compliance.

The way ahead

The current IACCM study of the Most Negotiated Terms confirms this tension. Most current negotiations remain focused on traditional areas of risk allocation, yet beneath the surface there is an encouraging shift towards terms that are important in managing uncertainty. A high proportion of respondents indicate that they sense the need for a change of approach, towards a greater focus on collaboration, transparency and terms that will support on-going management of the contract and relationship post-award.

This wish for change is not new, but COVID-19 makes it more pervasive and urgent. Yet for all the aspiration, there remains a sense of resignation that it won’t happen. Many feel there is just too much resistance, internal and external.

So should we give up? Clearly not – developing more sustainable trading relationships is an economic and social priority. We must develop commercial frameworks that support recovery and future growth. And an encouraging finding from the IACCM survey is that about a third of negotiators recognize that they are currently part of the problem – that they do not have the skills and training needed for this new era.

What is missing?

Although many negotiators espouse ‘win-win’ in concept, very few have really grasped what this means in practice. The talent we need today is to develop influencing skills that can be applied across the lifetime of a program or relationship. This means commercial teams need to be involved from inception of the opportunity; they must engage with customers or suppliers to ensure a common sense of how value will be achieved; they must understand the concerns or needs of all stakeholders and build empathy and trust that those concerns and needs will be addressed.

Changes like this don’t just happen. We make them happen by being ready to adjust our behavior and approach: so what must we do to develop influence?

  • Make others believe they will get what they want or need;
  • Make others feel important;
  • Connect with positive emotions;
  • Make others feel empowered;
  • Show respect for their opinions;
  • Work to coordinate, not to instruct;
  • Demonstrate sympathy.

How many of those attributes do you and your commercial colleagues exhibit today? Without them, you do not have what it takes to support the future.

Visit IACCM for the next phase of its TASK program, addressing the topic ‘Developing Talent & Building Your Resume‘.

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