Flexing your negotiation skills for a flexible work arrangement

One of the most common challenges I get asked about is helping professional new Mums to negotiate (or re-negotiate) a flexible work arrangement, whether that’s a phased return, a part-time role or a compressed work week.

Negotiating a flexible role can be difficult – often it can be an emotional conversation because there’s a lot at stake – my clients tell me that they want to be able to have time with their baby when they are little whilst still continuing to accelerate their career. The negotiation discussion with their manager is the obstacle that’s in the way and navigating this, from preparing your proposal to structuring the conversation to achieve the outcome that’s win-win (benefitting your company and you).

Here are my tips on successfully negotiating a flexible work arrangement:

  1. Know your ideal outcome and have two ‘fall-back’ options – it’s like buying a house – you probably don’t have one offer, you’ve got a couple more that you can use to achieve the outcome that you want and you’ve considered beforehand
  2. Rehearse. Practice saying your ideal outcome aloud, as well as your fall-back options
  3. Ask questions to understand the other person’s position and try to be empathetic to them. You want to walk away from the negotiation with both parties satisfied – ideally it should be a win-win situation
  4. Use positive language, avoid saying things like “policy” or “only option”
  5. Do deep breaths and power poses. Negotiation can be tense and emotional. If you find yourself getting upset, have a sip of water, take a few deep breaths and then re-start the conversation.

In two weeks I’m hosting a Masterclass: ‘Successfully Negotiating a Flexible Work Arrangement’ which is a 1.5hr practical Masterclass with Q&As that will guide you through my 4 step successful negotiation method: from preparing your proposal, how to overcome objections, navigating the negotiation discussion and rehearsal techniques so that you are calm and confident. The skills that you learn can be used for life, whether that’s negotiating a pay rise to buying a house!

Here’s a recent client testimonial:

“Olivia was invaluable in helping me articulate and submit my compressed hours request of my return to work to a senior role at a major accounting firm. She helped me to develop my key arguments, and structure the formal request, and also helped prepare counter arguments to possible objections. I felt calm and in control when making the request, which I feel was instrumental to my bosses agreeing to consider my proposal, despite not being covered by existing company policy.”- The Women’s Vault client, May 2020 

Look forward to seeing you there! Olivia x

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