Margaret Neale, PhD, Interview

  • Pearl, Ronald, MD, PhD, FASA
| Oct 10, 2018

Ron-Pearl-thumbAs a preview to the CSA Business of Anesthesiology Conference on October 12, I interviewed one of our keynote speakers, Margaret Neale, PhD, who is the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Here she discusses what to expect during the workshop, important negotiation skills, and how women need different strategies when going into negotiations.  

I hope you join us on October 12 in San Francisco for this fun and invigorating educational conference!  

neale-margaret-a-275x275Can you tell us a bit about the planned program? 

In this workshop, attendees will engage in a mock employment contract negotiation and receive valuable feedback on how well they negotiated, and how well they compared to their counterparts. They will also see how well they compared to other people who were put in the same situation but responded differently and received a different outcome, which is quite informative. This is a customized workshop that will be specifically tailored to those who show up and participate. 

You earned your bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. Has that influenced how you work with physicians? 

It’s not from my pharmacy training, but my experience in research, education processes, negotiation, and team dynamics. In my experience working with a variety of physician groups, I’ve learned they are smart people but haven’t thought systematically about how to manage and lead people because it wasn’t focused on in their education. 

There have been two major themes of your work: negotiation and organizational behavior and teams. In your mind, how do those pieces interface? 

What I’m really interested in is how do we create and realize the synergy that exists when multiple people get together? How can we take advantage of the synergy that exists within, and between, team members? In negotiating, how can we effectively create and claim value in negotiations? Both are similar in that they require skills of collaboration. 

To me, negotiation is frequently viewed as a zero-sum game with winners and losers, but when we talk about teams, there’s more collaboration instead of people choosing sides. How do you try to teach negotiation as not being antagonistic? 

You need to move beyond the simple and problematic notion of negotiation as a battle to a broader conceptualization of negotiation as collaborative problem-solving. For me, there is very little difference. There are three necessary attitudes that everyone must have, which I will go into detail during the session. 

First – I’m better off at the end of the negotiation than I am at the beginning. That may seem like a very low bar, but everyone has taken a deal voluntarily, and with foreknowledge, where they knew it was a bad deal but still said yes. This is because we privilege agreement as the primary metric of success in negotiation. 

Second – because my counterpart has complete agency to walk away, there is no command to control there. I can’t force someone to say yes. I must present proposals where my counterpart thinks it is in their best interest to say yes. 

Third and most importantly – when I present a proposal, I’m going to frame that proposal as a solution to a problem that my counterpart has. That is a big difference. For most of us in negotiation, we focus almost exclusively on our wants so that we tend to forget one of the most critical aspects of negotiation—that negotiation is an interdependent process. Your counterpart has to walk in the path of agreement with you, willingly. So, you need to be able to answer the question, “Why would my counterpart say yes to my proposal?” And if you don’t know the answer to that, and can’t come up with a persuasive response, then you’re not ready to negotiate. 

Since this conference is also sponsored by the Women in Anesthesiology Society, how do you see women as being different and potentially needing different strategies to negotiate? 

It’s simply not a level playing field. If we look at the research on negotiation that has been done, there are two big findings. 

First, men do not face what women face – which is the social and psychological backlash when we ask for more, because women are supposed to make people feel good but when they’re asking for more money or resources, they are no longer making you feel that way. This makes women appear greedy or demanding, and that reputational backlash has lasting effects. That is added to the notion that women are likely to have lower expectations about their own success and their ability to get what they ask for. When you combine that with the backlash and lower expectations of success, it’s no wonder women don’t negotiate. 

But there is another research finding which is profoundly different—when women negotiate for others, they are significantly more effective than men when they negotiate for others. Women outperform men in representational negotiation between 14 and 22 percent. 

What do you hope that people will get out of the session?

Clear and actionable ways to improve your skills of negotiation. One of the things we’ll work on is a lot of the rules that people think are right when it comes to negotiating but are wrong. Come prepared!  

For more information on the Business of Anesthesia Workshop, and information on how to register, please click here.









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