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The Truth About Non-Negotiables

January 23rd, 2018   •      

by Emily D. Tisdale


In any industry, flexibility is crucial. The ability to adapt to situations as they occur ensures that your organization stays nimble, relevant, and solvent for the long haul.

Given the importance of flexibility, one would think that rigid policies would spell disaster. However, there are also times when a more strict and rigid approach is necessary. Firm, concise policies not only protect your organization’s interests, but also offers a safeguard for your customer as well.

Here are three ways that non-negotiables can make your organization stronger.

Non-Negotiables Offer Guidance During Decision Making

When faced with a tough decision, your organization’s non-negotiables can be the deciding factors.

Often, difficulty during the decision-making process is a symptom of unclear objectives. For example, when considering changes to your organization’s benefits structure, you may feel you need to choose between providing benefits versus staying solvent; it’s almost as if you’re engaging in a win/lose or give/take situation.

In cases like these, consider your organization’s core values, which should be non-negotiable. If one of these values is caring for the whole employee (in and out of the office), then your decision is much easier to make.

Identifying your non-negotiable, core values will allow you to use the best judgment in every circumstance, and not have to second guess yourself when faced with tough decisions.


Non-Negotiables Create Your Culture

A strong company culture is vital for engaging employees, and often, it is your non-negotiables that create this culture.

Think about the traits that you value most – these are likely the qualities that you encourage in your organization, and it’s these qualities that create your unique culture. For example, valuing respect for others and trust in your peers creates a different culture than an organization that values high efficiency and fiscal health.

Because culture is ingrained in every level of your organization, your culture must be clearly set and defined. What better way to create a unique culture than to define the values that you know are non-negotiable?


Non-Negotiables Determine Your Must-Do’s

The old adage says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In your organization, your best practices are most likely defined, but how often are these best practices put aside for tomorrow?

You may intend to carry out your best practices consistently, but good intentions equal nothing unless they are put into action. Consistency is the secret sauce that transforms your best practices from good intentions into measurable successes.

If you make it clear that your best practices are non-negotiable, your best practices become must-do’s instead of might-do’s. This sets the stage for best practices, every day.



Flexibility is important in many settings, but non-negotiables will always have a place in high-functioning organizations. Although the term “non-negotiable” can have a negative connotation, there are times when it pays to be inflexible.

After all, you cannot compromise your way to excellence. In order to achieve the targets that you have set for your organization, you must have a set of rules, ideologies, or practices that are non-negotiable.

What are the non-negotiables in your organization? What are the core values that drive the customer experience?


Next time: Crisis Management 101

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