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Negotiating the Manager, or Director’s Employment Agreement

The hospitality industry relies heavily on recruiters. So, it is likely that you will have assistance with your employment agreement, from your recruiter, when negotiating your contract.

A competitive negotiating style may help the company negotiate a commercial agreement. But, that is counter-productive when negotiating an executive’s employment agreement. The company has already invested time, energy, and recruitment fees in interviewing and prospective candidates.

The negotiation process can jeopardize the employee and employer relationship if either takes an unrealistic negotiating position.  Executives want to believe their prospective employer has their best interest in mind. Employers want to retain as much freedom to ‘do business’ as possible.

The entire process is tense. Both parties want to make money. Both parties want to make sure their interests are protected. Neither party understands fully whom they are negotiating with.

Signing Bonus

What is a signing bonus? How do you negotiate it? A signing bonus should compensate an executive or director for lost vesting options, bonuses, and benefits lost when switching jobs.

Cause of Termination Clause

This clause determines the balance of power. It has one purpose, to protect both parties if the hire turns out to be a bad one.  The executive needs to protect compensation include unvested compensations. For example, the executive or director earns a bonus from the previous year, without a well crafted agreement the company can contest whether the bonus is still due. This problem can be easily handled with a well crafted employment agreement.

Job Equity

There are several ways to negotiate compensation. The company will not want to pay you what you feel you are worth, but there are ways to lower the company’s risk, and increase the executive’s pay. This can include bonuses, earned benefits, and percentages of profits.

There are other ways to earn equity that may include intangible benefits.

Corporate Culture

Does the company need the candidate’s skills? Are they vital to the company’s success? This can have a major impact on your ability to work freely and your ability to make your plans succeed.

Are you negotiating a contract or a relationship? Depending on the company’s culture the negotiation can be very different. What attitude are you taking into the negotiations and have you seriously considered whether you want to alter it?

Your end goal may be a safe, solid contract that can set everything out so that all parties involved can ‘get to work’ without stress or conflict. That doesn’t mean that every company’s culture is designed around the same end goals.

Some companies may feel that they are ‘building a relationship’ instead of setting out legal terms of employment. There is no right, or wrong. The important thing is to determine what is right for you.

Is The Job a Right Fit?

What is your personal style? Are you formal, or informal. Is your communication direct, or indirect? What is the company’s style? Differences in culture, personality and business focus changes the attitudes. Is the negotiation a either a power play, or it is a relationship building exercise.

Win Win negotiators see deal making as collaborative, problem solving, and fluid. Win-Lose negotiators see the negotiating process as confrontational, something to win, or something to control.

If the negotiations are not going the way you feel they should, then maybe this job is not a good fit. It may not be a good career move.

Understanding the Element of Time

Negotiating styles highlight a culture’s attitude towards time. Candidates will learn, quickly, how much ‘time stress’ the new job will have. Americans want to make a quick deal. Come to the table knowing what you want, legal responsibilities, and with realistic expectations.

Asians are more focused on building relationships. Signing the contract is a minor concern. In fact, moving to fast can cost you the job.  American’s believe that ‘time is money.’

Measure the Emotionalism

If you are a focused, goal oriented personal then the last place you want to be in working in a corporate culture that acts emotionally. The level of ‘drama’ can be part of the negotiating process in some companies, but it can be considered inappropriate behavior in other companies.

Bottom Up or Top Down

Both negotiation styles can cause conflict with an executive candidate’s negotiation of their employment agreement. Especially if they are not familiar with negotiation tactics. Your deal may sound amazing, and you may feel that you have options to ask for more – in the Top Down negotiation style. But, if you don’t understand the objective then your perceptions will damage your negotiations. Or, you may feel that the company has unrealistic expectations and there is no way you would work for so little only to learn that the company has offered a bare minimum and you need to move up.


These are just a few of the main concerns an executive candidate needs to keep in mind when negotiating. The most important thing to keep in mind is that ‘how this company’ negotiates tells a lot about them. A Candidate needs to be willing to stand their ground for the issues that are important to them, and to determine whether they can comfortably work within the company. If you compromise now then your work ethics will not be compatible with the company culture and you may find yourself looking for a new job within a short time.


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