Thursday, May 10, 2007

Someone needs to practise negotiation skills

(And I think it's both of us.)

On his morning rambling-round-the-department-with-coffee-cup-in-hand, the HOD dropped by my office. As usual, he took up a position just inside the door, but facing the wall 90 degrees away from me, which means eye contact—and hence interruptions—are impossible.

Then he talked solidly for twenty minutes about his favourite brand of tea and his plans for an upcoming holiday. Followed by, "So, anyway, I'm really glad you'll be teaching [Supervisor]'s classes next semester. Of course, I want to keep the cost of covering for her sabbatical as low as possible, so I'm thinking we could pay you by the hour as a casual lecturer. I'm pretty sure that would work out cheapest."

He paused. I realised I was probably meant to say something here, but, "Fuck that! I want lots of money!" didn't strike me as quite appropriate. Fortunately, HOD is not one to leave a silence verbally unmolested.

"The budget I actually have for filling the position is $X, though, so, if pressed, we could afford to go that high."

I would have inserted, "Yes! Let's do that!" at this point, but I wasn't fast enough.

Leaving the room, he muttered to the door frame, "but maybe I won't have to and then we can use that money to fund something else."

Fortunately, I "just happened" to mention this conversation to my supervisor later in the day, and then sat back and watched her approach him at afternoon tea time. I only heard her opening remark before their voices got too low for eavesdropping, but "I want you to think very carefully about your plans for paying StyleyGeek. It's just not fair to—" strikes me as rather hopeful.

It's always nice to have someone in your corner.


sam said...

yeah, hod probably walked away thinking that you agreed with him/her. luckily you have a prof looking out for you!

susan said...

Really, what could you have said in that moment? it's hard to negotiate with someone who is so, um, clueless about how to approach replacements.

Supervisor rocks.

Miss M. said...

I heart your supervisor!

Unfortunately, the HoD gets no such brownie points.

Badaunt said...

What a bizarre conversation! His negotiating skills are awful, yes, but if he had any sense, you'd think, he wouldn't even tell you that you could get more 'if pressed.' It's almost as if he was wanting to be pressed.

Next time, have your iron handy!

(Good thing your supervisor is on your side!)