“This needs to be done by the end of the month!”
“We need to lock in the results before the end of the quarter!”
“I can’t start the new year until this deal is done!”
If you’re in business, you’ve likely heard at least one of these lines before. You may even have said it yourself…especially at the end of a month, quarter – and most of all, year.
Time pressure is a fact of life, and most of the time it drives us to work harder and faster…and maybe even achieve our best performance levels.
But other times, a push to wrap up a negotiation under a right timeline can encourage some rather sub- optimal behaviour and it can be tempting to let quality slide.
Maybe it’s giving in on a point of the agreement that makes you feel uneasy, or will be difficult to execute.
Or maybe it’s letting an ever so tiny flaw get through your quality checks and into the final version.
Or, perhaps worst of all, your need for speed turns you into a pushy so-and-so that pressures others into sacrificing their own standards in order to help you meet your deadline.
When the heat has been turned up and I start feeling the slide towards undesirable behaviour or results, it can help to repeat the mantra:
“I don’t do crap- and neither should you”
Use this mantra to keep yourself and those around you on target for achieving quality results, not just quick contracts.
So, how do you deliver deal you can be proud of on time?
Make sure to establish the negotiation timeline early on and then build your work schedule and strategy to fit into the time you have. Keep your eyes open for signs that the deadline may be advanced, or that you are at risk of missing it, and address those issues as quickly as possible.
There will always be a time crunch on a negotiation (and hey, that’s part of the rush of it!) but there are ways for you to get creative and speed up or streamline your work without sacrificing quality. Some of my most effective techniques are:
Divide and conquer. Split up the open action items between yourself and the other guy or gal. Instead of waiting for the next volley of the entire contract or proposal, each work on your portions of it and then combine into the new draft. This will save both teams the downtime of waiting for the next revisions to arrive.
Preview. When you know a certain stakeholder will need to give a final blessing on the deal – maybe it’s your lawyer, accountant or business partner – bringing them into the loop early and often will speed up the final approval time. Sending status summaries, having 15-minute executive reviews and even providing a near-final draft during the final negotiation stages can mean streamlining approval from days down to hours.
Scroll back up for a second. Notice that we’re aiming for high-quality negotiation outcomes. Not perfect ones. For each negotiation you’re working on, figure out what your scale of “Good Enough” to “High Quality” to “Perfect” looks like, and know that when push comes to shove and you’re going to need to be a few notches short of Perfect to close in time, that High Quality is a pretty good place to be.
How do you respond to increased time pressure in your work? Does it give you a boost of adrenaline and a drive to get things over the finish line? Or is there a bit more panic than you’d care for? What tips can you share about getting work done to deadline without sacrificing quality?