SHIFT in Thinking Supports Facility Shift

CEO Institute grads use negotiation strategy to pave the way for wins

by Jennifer Kutcher, Robert Langei and Jeff Dykstra

Our CEO Institute learning helped us consider the power of influence and negotiation in making a big organizational change: moving nine of Whatcom Educational Credit Union’s back-office departments from disparate offices into one location. At CEO Institute, we learned about how to “SHIFT” the way we think about negotiation to pave the way for wins. The “SHIFT” tactics we have used during this back-office consolidation are noted below.

Separate interests from positions. This means focusing on what was important to individuals, rather than what stance they hold at a particular time on an issue. We found it advantageous to get staff at every level engaged from the start, and to share our vision and goal for the new facility to get their buy-in. We first met with the management team to explain the new building and our open work environment concept. We shared our common goal of moving the back-office departments into one large facility. We talked about our vision as it related to increased efficiencies and teamwork between departments, as well as how this would have a positive impact on the members we serve. We also encouraged our managers to talk to their staff about the upcoming project, seek their input (both positive and negative) and let us know what their needs would be.

Hear the other side. We then sent each of the managers slated to move to the facility a letter explaining the overall project goal and provided them with a needs assessment questionnaire. Once the managers filled out the questionnaire, we met with each of them individually to discuss their department’s needs and views of the project.

Our discussion included feedback on physical needs, as well as identifying which processes and communications might be affected by this physical move. Throughout the process, we learned what our staff was passionate about and what items were key to retaining Whatcom Educational CU’s employer-of-choice status from our staff members’ perspective. This helped us ensure we were building a facility with the amenities they deemed valuable, not what we deemed valuable. We also could not rely on our perception, since it could be wrong. We had to ask.

Invest in the relationship. As the project progressed, we kept communication lines open with the departments moving to the new facility by attending department meetings with their staff, sharing our plans, providing tours of the new facility, and holding periodic management meetings to discuss and resolve concerns. We were flexible, and attentive to every concern, no matter how small we might have thought it was. We also recognized that everyone in the organization would be affected by the move. We made it a priority to communicate plans and discuss concerns with those not moving, so any change to their processes was addressed in a proactive and positive way.

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