How to Negotiate With Subordinates Without Violating Their Trust

Having a solid, trusting relationship with your subordinates is critical to your success as a manager. In order to succeed in your own role, you must first ensure that they succeed in theirs. As a manager, it is your responsibility to lead, supervise, and motivate your subordinates effectively. While the relationship between you and your employees can be friendly and respectful, it is also your job to make sure they are performing the tasks that are assigned to them. For this reason, it is important for managers to know how to negotiate with subordinates in a manner that is professional and courteous. Consider the following tips for negotiating effectively with your subordinates. 

Be Open and Respectful

Any time you are communicating with your subordinates you want to make sure that you are courteous and respectful. Avoid playing the power card and using your authority to undermine them. This will only lead to frustration and resentment among your employees. Rather, make them feel valued and respected by using their names and acknowledging their presence. Let them know what your expectations are and in turn, seek to understand their expectations of you. Provide feedback and praise and ask them for feedback as well. Encouraging open and honest communication between you and your subordinates will only strengthen your relationship and build a stronger professional foundation. 

Be Honest and Clarify Your Reasoning

If one of your employees is coming to you to ask for a raise, you need to be prepared to handle the discussion with clarity and honesty. Rather than simply saying, “I’m sorry but I cannot do that right now,” you need to clarify your reasoning and share that with your employee. They deserve to know the truth and you owe that to them. Perhaps you cannot fulfill their request because profits are down or it might be that the employee was not performing well enough. Whatever the reason, be honest with them and let them know exactly why you can or cannot meet their demands. At the same time, strive to provide helpful feedback that can help them reach their goals. 


Never underestimate the power of listening in a negotiation. This is especially true when it is a conversation between a manager and subordinate. By listening to your employee, you are demonstrating a level of mutual respect and you are showing them that you actually care about their feelings. Ask questions and give them a chance to respond as you listen intently. Let them know that you have a vested interest in their success and that you truly care about their needs and concerns. Give your employees a chance to explain their point of view without getting defensive. Employees value and look up to a manager who is willing to listen to them. 

Be Flexible

It’s never a good idea to enter into a negotiation with the notion that you aren’t budging. A manager should always be flexible when it comes to dealing with an employee’s concerns. If you always follow strict guidelines, you aren’t providing employees the flexibility they need to improve their performance. Your employees are your most valuable asset so be willing to make concessions and compromise if it means keeping a good employee on staff.