Contract negotiation strategy refers to your "game plan" that you devise for achieving your objectives at the negotiating table. Because the negotiation process is goal-oriented it is implicit that you develop a strategy for moving you in the direction that you want so that you achieve your negotiation objectives.
In planning your strategy, you would also need to develop negotiation tactics which are the specific moves and maneuvers you plan to apply in carrying out your strategy.
You should recognize a clear distinct between strategy and tactics. Strategy refers to your overall "game plan" for achieving your goals, whereas tactics refers to the specifics moves used in the pursuit of your strategy.
Tactics need to be supportive of or complement your strategy and have to be consistent with strategy in order to have a cumulative impact on the negotiations.
When making changes to strategy you should also make corresponding changes to tactics for implementing that strategy. Also don't make changes to tactics without first considering how those changes in tactics will affect your strategy for achieving your objectives.
In the negotiations it is more advantageous to apply your strategy and tactics based on a solid understanding of the nature and psychology of the negotiation process rather than as a "game" in which you use a variety of tactics and ploys to maneuver the opposition into agreement.
Mastering the negotiation process involves having a good understanding of the art of persuasion, good listening skills, building trust, and maintaining goodwill.
In labour relations collective bargaining, both sides need to do thorough strategic planning and preparation. Failing to do adequate strategic preparation would weaken a parties bargaining position at the negotiating table.
From a management point of view strategic preparations would not only require strategies for reaching a settlement at the negotiating table but also strategies to be implemented in order to continue offering a service its customers, and dealing with suppliers, and producing and selling its goods during the labour dispute. The range of strategies available may also be regulated by applicable labour legislation, as well as the nature and type of business involved.
The union on the other hand will seek to implement strategies that would prevent the company from carrying out its day-to-day operations such as servicing its customers and the production and sale of goods during the labour dispute.
Each party, should start preparing its respective overall strategic plan long before the parties actually start the negotiations. Since the aim of labour negotiations is to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, the strategy of both sides should serve as a road-map indicating the how and where the parties may reach agreement.
In conclusion your contract negotiation strategy is basically your action plan for how you plan to reach your settlement objective.