It is important to understand that, while a negotiation framework is helpful in problem solving, the structure of a framework is flexible. Prior to the negotiation, the situation created a clear framework. Terry, the truck driver, tested positive for drugs. As a consequence of is test results, Terry meet with his superior and a counselor to discuss his future at the company. The rule was very clear: drivers are tested for drugs. Initially, I viewed the rule as identical to policy, and a rigid rule left little room for negotiation. The mindset is likely a result of bias growing up in a culture of zero-tolerance with drugs in the school/workplace. According to the case, if a driver was caught with drugs in his system there were only two options: discharge or enter a treatment center. However, I discovered that policy is really a formalized process for implementing a rule and, as a result, is not identical. Thus, a negotiation framework provides guidance for solving discrepancies in company policy.
Accordingly, the policy that implements the process for complying with a rule is much more flexible. The rule requires random drug testing and the company set a policy dictating a limit on the presence of drugs to comply. Terry initially had two options, but a flexible framework permitted new facts to arise, creating the need to consider other options. In the case of Terry, while he didn’t partake in drugs, he was in an environment that caused him to test positive for marijuana. No matter how many times he was tested, unless Ter...
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...an impaired driver, then there was a level of flexibility in the negotiation. Terry had drugs in his system but it did not indicate he was unfit to drive. On the other hand, if the interest was to replace Terry with a lower paid driver, there was no room for negotiation. The superior would not enter the situation in good faith and the only outcome would be discharge.
For my career, the case teaches about the need for an awareness of the unintended consequences of policy. The challenge is that rules are never perfect and require a flexible policy. Procedures become outdated and new information must be incorporated and a standard policy is not always applicable to a changing business environment. While managers cannot disobey policy, there needs to be room for exceptions. This is particularly necessary when, as we saw in the case, the policy is systematically flawed.
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