Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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True Leaders Know How to Navigate From Resignations To Negotiations!

A few weeks ago, I shared that today, we are seeing a resurgence of unions in the United States. And it’s worth noting that in the 1960s when unions grew rapidly, the main goal was to: secure higher wages and favorable working conditions for their members. This begs the question: With the huge investment in workspaces and wages today, why are workers rushing to form and join unions? And this is an important question because, in some ways, the institution of a union can be perceived by an employer as a workers’ intermediary.

The Great Divide

But peering into the current work dynamics sheds light on the state of employer-employee relationships. Today, there seems to be a great divide between employers and employees. And while we might be inclined to think that this was sparked by the 2020 pandemic which forced the physical divide, it is worth asking the question: Did the great divide between employers and workers occur solely because of the pandemic?
Asking and answering this question is beneficial because our hearts often leave situations much sooner than our bodies do! Indeed when you reflect on a time when you left a job or relationship, you might find that you were emotionally disconnected before you physically departed.

And in the case of the Great Resignation, the time when employees seemed to exit their jobs in droves around the 2020 pandemic, many have offered a variety of explanations for the onslaught of exits. – Notably, some say the push to return to the workplace physically which companies instituted upon employees was the reason for their departure. While others have suggested that employees did not see a need to work as they relied on the checks that the government provided during the pandemic. Yet still, others chalked up the phenomenon to unmotivated employees deciding to take the easy way out – figuratively and physically.

Remarkably, some took an entirely different stance. They suggested that employees had been displeased with their work and work environment for a while. And while the number of exits might have risen during the pandemic, this trend of quick exits started well before the pandemic.

The pursuit of emotional and mental well-being

Regardless of the rationale you adopt, it is undeniable that as workers return to the workplace, they are expressing an increased desire to negotiate the terms of their employment. – Their salaries and much more! Indeed, workers have moved from resigning to deciding to come back to work and re-defining the terms. And there seems to have been a move from the Great Resignation, evidenced by a physical departure from the workplace to the Great Negotiation to enable emotional and mental well-being. 

And while this may sound like a despondent situation, ironically, it offers many opportunities for employers to connect with their employees!
How so? One might ask!
When most of us think about negotiation in employment, our minds often float to salary negotiations. And while salary negotiations are important, other terms are also of great importance to employees and worth negotiating. And these include how work gets done, and an employee’s ability to determine when they work and where they work.

The can of worms!

Based on my experience, I have found that opening the can of worms to employee negotiations makes many leaders nervous because they fear what the employee might ask for. And many are fearful that they might not be able to make the employee’s request, and this will lead to disappointment!
But it is worth remembering that all requests and suggestions do not have to be granted. Indeed the intellectual value of a suggestion often comes to bear when the suggestion is offered. And the monetary value is realized after the idea is successfully implemented.
Therefore, great leaders do not limit themselves and their organization by shutting the door to suggestions. Instead, they open the door to an influx of ideas and diligently choose which to pursue and invest in.

This begs the question: What can an employer do to reap the benefits of Great Negotiation?
This is a pivotal question. And like most great questions, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. But by being inquisitive and adopting an open mind, one can experience success.

Fortunately, many great minds have set an example of what it takes to have successful negotiations. And here, I will focus on a leader who was described as “the greatest negotiator of the twentieth century,” by Harvard Law School professor and Program on Negotiation Chairman, Robert H. Mnookin. In Mnookin’s seminal book, Bargaining with the Devil, When to Negotiate, When to Fight, he cited Nelson Mandela as the greatest negotiator of the 20th century because of his patience tenacity, pragmatism, and strategic thinking.” SOURCE: Best Negotiators in History: Nelson Mandela and His Negotiation Style – PON – Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School

Negotiation Tips from one of the best!

Marijn Overvest, the founder of Procurement Tactics, and a self-professed lover of the art of negotiation offers some worthwhile lessons from his study on Mandela’s negotiation tactics:
Keep the end in mind and keep your patience. And make concessions in order to achieve your desired outcome. SOURCE: Best Negotiator – 7 Inspiring Lessons From the Best in the World (procurementtactics.com)

These simple tips can benefit anyone. And I would be remiss if I did not point out that the last couple of years might have felt for some leaders like a journey down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. But today, leaders have a prime opportunity to steer their organizations in a positive direction.
And the journey toward growth and progress will be enabled by truly understanding what employees need and want, knowing the levers one can pull, and striking the right balance.

For you and to you,



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