It’s a Process

There are four, sequenced stages to any successful employment contract negotiation:

  • the pre-agreement process
  • writing the agreement
  • negotiating the agreement
  • closing the deal

At each stage in the process you’ll want to exert as much control and project as much confidence as possible while keeping a positive, good faith posture throughout. From a broad strategy perspective, this approach will greatly enhance your ability to get the best deal for you that the prospective employer has to offer.

Top 12 Reason Deals Fall Through

Deals fall through for one or more reasons. Sometimes, they simply weren’t meant to be. Here’s a list of the top 12 reasons that negotiations collapse and employment deals don’t get done. Recognizing the tell-tale signs that a deal is going badly could help you maintain or regain control as the negotiations unfold.

  1. A recruitment package is not finalized, but the candidate is ready to talk seriously
  2. A letter of intent is not finalized
  3. The final working agreement (contract) is not drafted
  4. Disagreements arise about the offer
  5. Indecision sets in among key players.
  6. Poor response time stalls talks
  7. There is a lack of understanding of what the candidate really wants
  8. Candidate or employer lack negotiation skills
  9. The employer’s opening offer is too low
  10. One or both parties have a win-lose attitude
  11. The offer description lacks flexibility
  12. Emotion replaces good business sense and the eye loses sight of the ball.

Win-Lose Attitude: Everybody Loses

Your approach to business negotiations should always be “win-win”. If you focus on win-lose or lose-win ? one party will end up getting more of what they want, but at the expense of the other.

Everybody loses when this happens because an important part of any negotiation is to get the best, fairest deal without doing any damage to the relationship. This is at the heart of all successful negotiations

A win-win negotiating strategy does not come naturally, You need to practice win-win negotiating. Most people entering a business negotiation are instinctively either hard on the issues and hard on the people (win-lose) or soft on the issues and soft on the people (lose-win).

Win-win occurs when both parties can be hard on the issues but soft on the people. In this way, fair compromises can almost always be reached, but the tough road to get there never becomes personal or inflammatory.

If you successfully negotiate a deal that both you and the employer are happy with, you will be working together, perhaps, for a very long time. Make sure that the relationship starts out on a strong and mutually respectful footing by aiming for a mutually win-win outcome

Tips for Pre-Agreement Discussions

Before you get to the actual contract negotiations, here’s some helpful advice on how best to approach the critical pre-agreement discussions you’ll be having with potential employers.

  • Research your market value. Friends in the industry, recruiters, Web-searches are all good resources for you to try to fix your value regarding salary and other benefits.
  • Don’t kid yourself about the employer’s attorney ? he or she is the employer’s advocate, not yours. If you think you need an advocate, get an attorney to help you. It’s a small investment relative to the risk/return.
  • Remember ? a contract goes both ways. Your employer gets the stability of a known and valued resource for the term of the agreement. You get the security of knowing you have a good job, with good pay over a fixed period of time. But keep in mind that if something goes wrong or conditions change drastically, breaking your contract could leave you vulnerable to legal action and paying damages.
  • Avoid becoming adversarial. Concentrate on working together. Keeping things upbeat shows that you’re a team player.
  • Know what you want to get as much as what you want to do. Your contract should include a very specific description of your job duties and responsibilities. Be firm and clear about what you’re good at and make sure your required duties are memorialized in the eventual agreement.

For more specific tips on negotiating tactics, be sure to read the Career Physician companion-article on this topic, Negotiating Employment Agreements ? Tactical Tips.

About the Author:

Wesley D. Millican, MBA, CEO and Physician Talent Officer of CareerPhysician Advisors, LP, and CareerPhysician, LLC, provides comprehensive talent solutions for academic children’s hospitals, colleges of medicine and academic medical centers across the nation. He possesses a longstanding passion for career development of all young physicians and serves as a go to career resource for training program directors and their residents and fellows. In continuing his commitment to the “future of medicine”, Mr. Millican speaks nationally at residency and fellowship programs. His Launch Your Career® Series is a proven resource for today’s residents and fellows and has served as a go to resource for program directors over the last 15 years.