Right now, most credit unions are in the midst of budget season. Yes, it’s that time of year where your department’s fortunes for next year are decided by the powers-that-be and you’re getting anxious about what’s coming next.
Many times, department heads are pleasantly surprised when they are given their budget for the following year. Unfortunately though, far too many of you are woefully disappointed by what you’re given. Times are still tough – there’s no doubt about it. And let’s face it – what you do costs money and you have to spend money for your efforts to produce results. (This is especially true for my friends in the marketing, training, and business development disciplines.)
With all of this in mind, I’d like to suggest 3 techniques that you could use in order to obtain what’s necessary for you to do your job and reach your goals.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. It is imperative that you conduct sufficient research and have enough information to make a convincing argument to receive the budget that you want. For example, simply stating that “marketing costs money” is never going to be sufficient enough. Provide as much numerical data as you can when you write your budget proposal. Simply put – you have to “make your case.” Be prepared to answer questions and make every effort to anticipate what may be asked of you. You don’t want to be caught off-guard. If you are required to make a presentation of some kind to your Executive Management/Board, practice your pitch as much as possible before you go “onstage.” There is no substitution for comprehensive preparation – in any endeavor.
Talk about consequences. Don’t be afraid to discuss the possible consequences of not having the necessary resources to complete your work. But be careful – you must do this respectfully and professionally. Your opportunity here is to inform the “deciders” about potential challenges and obstacles. And never forget that YOU are the expert here – after all, you’re the one with the experience and you’re the one who does the job every day.
Master the Art of Negotiation. So you’ve prepared sufficiently, provided as much relevant and useful information as you can, showed the numbers, and discussed the challenges that may arise if you don’t receive the resources you need.
Then comes the moment of truth – you are not given the budget that you requested. Let me clarify here – if the number you are given is “in the ballpark” of what you suggested – be gracious and get to work.
But if it’s not even close – you may want to negotiate. Negotiating is an art and it takes skill, poise, and confidence. It is important to understand what negotiation isand what it is not.
Negotiation is an opportunity to present your original case with additional supporting information. In essence, you get another chance; Negotiation is not about arguing why you’re right and they’re wrong.
Negotiation is about acknowledging differences in opinion; Negotiation is not a duel.
Negotiation is your opportunity to suggest solutions that will lead to a consensus; Negotiation is not a time for you to be reactionary or selfish.
Negotiation is an opportunity to show that you are diligent, capable, and fair-minded; Negotiation is not the time to make threats.
After you negotiate, your proposal is either going to be accepted or rejected. You will either come to a mutually beneficial compromise or you won’t. If you are successful in your negotiation, be appreciative and get to work. If you are not successful, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Business professionals who show respect, discipline, and restraint while in the midst of difficult negotiations do indeed make a lasting impression. You may not get what you want in the short-term but your skills and character will endure and will lead to more successful negotiations in the future. In short – you’ll win more than you lose!