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Team Results USA’s CEO John Kolm is an innovator of 21st century team productivity programs, a best-selling author, and a former intelligence officer. Originally from Australia, John formed Team Results in 1996 with retired business partner and decorated veteran Peter Ring as the end result of an experiment that began... Read more

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Meet “The Workplace Gripe Guy”

John Kolm "The Workplace Gripe Guy"

John Kolm “The Workplace Gripe Guy”


Sandra from Rockville writes:

“Dear Workplace Gripe Guy,

I am sick to death of women being passed over for opportunity in my company.  I’ve been trying to break into sales for four years, but every time, the jobs go to one of  “the boys” and there’s always a “good reason” – it’s never because I’m a woman.  Yet if I complain, of course I’ll be branded as whiny.  I don’t want to quit because I have good benefits.”

Sandra, it is time for you to meet BATNA.  Not Batman, BATNA.  A BATNA is a Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement, and it’s a trick professional diplomats – many of who we have trained – have used for years.  Your BATNA answers the question “What will I do if I can’t reach an agreement?  What will I do if I can’t get these people to give me a chance in sales no matter what I try?”

Right now you have no BATNA, and the absence of a BATNA makes your negotiating position weak.  You have no fallback if you are treated unfairly, so there’s no reason for the boys’ club to let you in.  It’s an arrangement that works well for them, badly for you.

You need to walk the tough road and really ask yourself what you would do if you knew – with absolute certainty – that you will never get into into sales at your company.  Would you settle for being unhappy at work?  Would you quit?  Would you change careers?  Start a rival company?  Go windsurfing?  What?  The thing you would do if you knew for sure that a sales job in your current employer will never, ever happen is your BATNA.  Choose carefully, because your BATNA is not a threat to wave at your employer, nor is it a fantasy of escape.  It must be something you would really do, and really will do, if you cannot reach agreement. It might be one of the hardest questions you’ve ever asked yourself in your life.

Once you know your BATNA, do all the work you would need to if that was your plan.  If it’s a new job, find a new job.  If it’s settling for being unhappy at work, readjust your life so that your exposure is limited and you look for fulfilment elsewhere.  If it’s starting a rival company, do a business plan, get advice, look for clients, organize your finances, file the papers.  It is not a BATNA until it is fully planned and set up, looking good, and ready to go at the flick of a switch.

I promise you that life will now look a lot different.  You will be confident and happy, much less fearful, much less “stuck”.  Your confidence will radiate from every part of you; it will be there in your step.  Often, people find that that’s enough – they get their wishes without any tense negotiation.  You may even find that your BATNA is now so good that it’s your first preference, in which case the sales job becomes your BATNA.  And if you go with your BATNA, well and good – no hard feelings.  Do it professionally, happily, politely, and with a smile on your face and in your heart.  They will never know what hit them.

Good luck!

Do you have a workplace gripe?  Write to me at the MyMCMedia local blogs via john.kolm@teamresultsusa.com .  If I don’t know the answer, somebody in my team will.

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John Kolm

About John Kolm

Team Results USA’s CEO John Kolm is an innovator of 21st century team productivity programs, a best-selling author, and a former intelligence officer.

Originally from Australia, John formed Team Results in 1996 with retired business partner and decorated veteran Peter Ring as the end result of an experiment that began in 1993. Driven by frustration with the team development options then available to business and government, and with encouragement from early clients, they applied their academic training and practical leadership experience to build the unique approach to team productivity improvement that eventually became Team Results. The company grew rapidly, expanded to a wholly US-owned branch in the United States in 2005, and now operates as a very successful business in both hemispheres.

In 2004 John and Peter wrote the global bestseller “Crocodile Charlie and the Holy Grail” (Penguin, available on Amazon.com), consolidating ten years of work with peak clients into a compelling story about team productivity, leadership in business and government, and happiness at work. The book has been re-published in seven languages and fourteen countries, and a sequel is in the works. John is also the author of numerous articles and papers on team dynamics in the modern workplace, some of which can be found in the News Room at www.teamresultsusa.com .

John is qualified in Psychology from the University of Melbourne, and in mathematics and statistics from the U.S. National Cryptologic School, where he also taught on the faculty. Email him at John.kolm@teamresultsusa.com .

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