Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Negotiating flexibility - don't give in

I spoke recently with a woman on the phone who called asking for advice on finding a new job. She is currently employed but is having difficulty in securing a better flexible work arrangement with her existing employer (A Government body who should know better) as her children are all at school now. There was no request to reduce hours - it was simply to change her arrangement from 3 full days to working her hours over 4-5 days. The manager said that it would not work for the team so her request would probably be denied.

I have persuaded her to push on and try to secure the flexible arrangements she is looking for. I talked her through the following game plan:

- Review the flexible work policy
- Follow our guide on how to negotiate flexibility which includes writing a business case on how the new flexible arrangement could work. See the followiong web page for more info:
- Question your manager on their views in a non-confrontational way. If your manager says 'it just won't work', ask them why they hold this view and ask them for a detailed explanation on how they arrived at their decision. Make sure you take a pen and paper so you can record the conversation.
- If you are disatsifed with your meeting, request a meeting with a representative from human resources.
- Stick to the facts, ensure you have your business case written, and show no emotion.

Lessons for employees
- Don't give in and don't be bullied.
- Always ask questions, don't accept statements from your manager that are not considered opinions.
- Don't become emotional.
- There is a shortage of skilled workers and we have an ageing population. Retention is becoming imperative so use this to your advantage.

Lessons for managers:
- Show structure and thought in your decision making. If you don't know how to assess flexible work arrangements, ask HR for advice.
- Treat everyone on a case by case basis.
- Show empathy and be willing to trial flexible work arrangements. You never know when you will need one.

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