Think win/win in relationships

June 1, 2004 By    

The fourth in our series of Habits of Highly Effective Propane Companies involves
how to approach the important relationships in our business – those with customers,
trade partners, venders and employees.

Win/win is a superior philosophical frame of mind in which the most effective
way to achieve organizational objectives is to approach relationships with a
mutually beneficial attitude. Win/win thinking is based on the belief that there
is “enough” available for all to have a favorable solution.

One alternative to win/win is win/lose, where the objective is based on the
belief that for one to win, someone else must lose. Sporting events are designed
as win/lose. Many people see life as an extraction of this sporting analogy;
they tend to be the type of people who believe there is not enough to go around.
People who see the world as win/lose tend to do everything possible to get their
way, including using their position, power, influence or finances.

Win/lose does have its purpose – such as when two competing companies are
vying for the same customer. It is not an effective approach to creating relationships,

For instance, anyone approaching a marriage relationship in a win/lose manner
will quickly learn his relationship is in trouble. The same goes for management-employee
relationships. Be on the look out for managers in your organization who use
their position or power to direct employees. This “I win because I gave
the order” and “you lose because you have no authority” quickly
creates employees who are resentful, and who will become unmotivated and significantly
less productive.

Another approach to human interaction is lose/win, in which individuals allow
themselves to be run over all of the time – “you win” or “have
it your way.” The problem with lose/win people is that they will not take
a stand on an important issue. Win/lose people love to run into lose/win people.
While both may be accomplishing their individual goals (one who has to win at
all costs and one who acquiesces at the first hint of a fight), your company
is not advancing on its objectives if the lose/win individual actually has the
better idea.

Lose/lose happens when two people who are both of the win/lose mindset collide.
No one wins. Can you recall a propane industry feud in which two stubborn individuals
would not give in – yet as an outside observer it was clear that both parties
should be working together for the benefit of both organizations? Again, watch
out for managers who are dealing with venders and suppliers with a win/lose
attitude. It may be costing you money.

The most successful relationships are approached as win/win or no deal. This
means that if the two parties cannot reach agreement, they agree to disagree
and no action is taken. Early stage relationships may be the most desirable
for this type of approach as trust and confidence between both parties are established.

Three character traits are key to developing a win/win mindset on your management

  • Integrity – establish your leadership team’s trust as you perfect the previously
    introduced habits: Being proactive, beginning with the end in mind and putting
    first things first.
  • Maturity – balancing courage and consideration. Have you ever measured your
    management team’s maturity level? Some people may have strong convictions
    and are willing to jump into the fray, but they lack tact and the ability
    to have a clear understanding of other positions besides their own. Conversely,
    those who are strong on consideration and low on courage will approach relationships
    with a lose/win attitude – the weaknesses we touched on previously.
  • Abundance mentality – the belief that there is enough for everyone. The
    opposite philosophy is the scarcity mentality – at the core of the fears that
    drive people to thinking that in order for them to win someone else must lose.
    You must believe both parties can win or you will be doomed to the insecure
    world that says for someone to win there must always be a loser.

Examine your incentive plans and your reward/recognition systems to ensure
they don’t encourage people to use win/lose over win/win. Poor systems and processes
include incentive systems in which only top-ranked performers get rewarded,
and recognition plans that favor small numbers of individuals instead of the
larger group.

Comments are currently closed.