Guidance for HR Facilitator/Host on onboarding participants

Guidance on engagement of negotiating partners
Written by Martin West
Updated 2 years ago

This article covers the process of a HR facilitator to engage the negotiating partners in the section "Engaging the partners in negotiation" and the decision process requirements for the process in the section "The Role of the HR Facilitator/Host"  

Engaging the partners in negotiation

The proposed approach suggests that the facilitator meets either together or separately with the partners in negotiation. And that the facilitator:

  • Goes through the "rules of engagement" for this pre-grievance resolution process during the first meeting. And you cover their responsibilities as a partner in negotiation, the communication protocols, the need for authority, how the process binds facilitator and partners to confidentiality and how it is a voluntary process.
  • Informs the partners about the task of documenting their agreement once they are clear about what they will be receiving and what their required action is.

You are asking the partners to agreed that they understand the following principles for the facilitated (hosted) process:

  • Responsibility: Negotiating partners are responsible for bringing this process to an agreement and that you, as a facilitator, are a neutral facilitator and advocate for the process. You do not take sides in the dispute.  
  • This is a Voluntary Process: It takes courage to agree to sit down here and be open to hearing the other side's perspective, engage in a respectful conversation and work towards an agreement. Thank you. As this is a voluntary process you may stop at any time. It is asked that before leaving, as a courtesy, you give the facilitator or lead the opportunity to understand your concerns to see if they can be addressed.
  • Confidentiality: What's said or shared in the sessions are confidential and partners will agree what can be shared. This negotiation is confidential for legal matters or a formal grievance process. This means new facts that come up in this conversation cannot be used in court or a grievance process. For most matters, information in these conversations that becomes part of the mutual beneficial agreement will be shared. The exception to this rule of confidentiality for legal matters is where the facilitator or lead may be required to report a matter where it is believed that there is imminent risk to a person or group of serious bodily or psychological harm or death.
  • 1-on-1 meetings (Caucus): There may be times when you may want to have a short private meeting with facilitator or lead. This called Caucusing. Also they may want to call for a private meeting with you. If this happens, the option of 1-on-1 meetings with both parties is offered.

  • All partners verbally agreed to the communication principles
    • Be respectful of the facilitator, lead and other participants by listening and letting them finish
    • Being open and curious as to other parties' perspectives
    • The confidentiality agreement, and the role of the facilitator and/or lead
    • Understanding that a person reflecting their conversation back to them is not necessarily in agreement with the other person. 
  • Authority to Represent: The negotiating partner confirms that they have the authority to represent themselves and/or their team in this matter and will specify how they have this authority. The group decided or you have the formal leadership responsibility in your job description. And if there are limits to representation and authority in settling, they will: 
    • identify to whom they will seek approval from when the decision is outside their mandate
    • state the limits of authority. 

Role of the HR facilitator/host

The facilitator is a neutral role whom enables the parties to have a problem solving conversation in which the issues are understood and options identified and structured into a mutually beneficial agreement. The role of a lead (read servant leader) is similar except they also partake in the participant actions. It seems it will be special circumstances where the HR facilitator/host needs to take on the role of lead.

Proposed stance of a neutral advocate (for the host)

It is important to note that partners in negotiation are the decision makers. Facilitators don't make judgements or decisions. And it is important they ask tough questions that advocate for a fair process and support a fairer outcome (wherever possible). And that they remain neutral to the arguments made by the negotiating partners. 

This is an active role that may impact the outcome of the negotiation. The benefit overall is a fairer process.


Please ask any clarifying questions on above and the negotiation process.

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