Positive Solutions Workplace Facilitated Discussion

Workplace Facilitation

Facilitation is used when there are issues of concern which involve two parties or a larger group such as a department or an organisation. Facilitation is a process which enables individuals or groups to resolve issues of mutual concern. Two individual parties may opt for facilitated discussion with the goal of addressing concerns affecting their working relationship; while organisations may use facilitation if they wish to involve staff in a discussion about major changes or sensitive issues affecting them.

Facilitators

Positive Solutions facilitators all have mediation, counselling or legal qualifications and experience. They are skilled in interviewing and group processes, taking a neutral and non judgemental position to guide participants through the facilitation process.

Benefits of Facilitation

Individuals: A Facilitated Discussion may be recommended by an employer or other referring agent (e.g. doctor / insurer) to employees who have particular issues with each other within the workplace. The discussion may also be prompted by one or both of the parties highlighting particular issues with either their line manager and/or Human Resources department. Resolution of these issues through participation in the facilitated discussion process helps to prevent the need for the matter to be resolved through the application of other more formal policies or procedures.

Organisations: For organisations involving staff in the decision making process it gives an opportunity for all voices to be heard equally and reduces the potential for any party to have a disproportionate amount of influence, as well increasing the likelihood that feedback will positively influence any relevant decisions implemented. It also helps ensure that there is collective ownership and responsibility for any decision taken. For management and other decision makers the facilitation process has the following benefits:

  • Demonstrates a commitment to an open and consultative management style. 
  • Builds goodwill. 
  • Enhances credibility.
  • Strengthens stakeholder commitment to the process given that they are more likely to feel satisfied with the process used to reach an outcome.
  • Frees managers to participate equally in discussion with other group members.

Confidentiality

Individuals:

The parties agree that details of the content of any discussions (held either individually or jointly with the facilitator) are confidential, while details of the process may be conveyed to the referrer. With the consent of both parties, details of an agreement or outcome will also be passed on to the employer / referrer who is then able to oversee and monitor its implementation.

Groups:

When large groups or more public issues are involved, ensuring confidentiality in relation to what is discussed in a group setting may not always be possible. However, the level of confidentiality (including what information should be conveyed back to the referrer) needs to be understood and agreed by members of the group consenting to participate in the process.

Process

Referrals to Positive Solutions are usually initiated by the employer. This is subject to the agreement of all parties involved to voluntarily participate in the facilitated discussion process.

Individuals:

Prior to the actual joint discussion, the Facilitator will interview each party individually to outline the process to be followed and answer any questions the employee may have. This usually takes up to 1 hour for each individual pre facilitation interview.

When the Facilitator has gathered all the details, a decision will be made as to whether it is appropriate to schedule a joint meeting, and subsequently confirmed with the parties. Up to 2 hours (including breaks) is usually allocated for the joint meeting. Either party may request a break at any time during the discussion.

The Facilitator does not participate in the discussion other than to encourage a conciliatory atmosphere while ensuring a full disclosure of all pertinent facts through questions on points of clarification and possibly summarizing the issues, or presenting potential options for discussion.

Each party is expected to conduct themselves with restraint and to respect the other persons’ point of view. The Facilitator will initially ask the party who has initiated the referral to briefly state their concerns/issues for discussion and then the other party will be asked to respond to the concerns and identify any relevant concerns or issues they may have.

The Facilitator will then ask parties to state their expectations including possible options as to how the issues can be resolved. If the parties are unable to agree the Facilitator may suggest further options for discussion, or propose a further meeting.

In consultation with both parties (either jointly or individually) the Facilitator will confirm the outcome of the discussion, and if mutually agreed, subsequently put this in written form for distribution to the parties and the referrer following the meeting. This will be the only record of the discussion.

Subject to the agreement of the parties involved, a follow up meeting may be scheduled to review progress and assist the parties in maintaining their agreement through addressing any practical issues that may have arisen during the implementation process.

Groups:

Following referral the employer/referrer is consulted to clarify their requirements and expectations of the facilitation process. Information regarding the background and context of the situation is sought, along with any occupational health and safety concerns to ensure that it is safe and appropriate to proceed to a group discussion. If the issues are of a complex and sensitive nature, confidential verbal or written feedback from individual members of the group may be provided to the Facilitator prior to proceeding to a group session. This information, whether in written or casenoted form, is destroyed within 4 weeks of the file closure.

Subject to it being safe and appropriate to proceed, a group session or sessions may be scheduled. It is the Facilitator’s role to provide a safe, non judgemental and collaborative environment in which the group can engage in a constructive discussion in relation to the issues identified. When the group has collectively identified information / outcomes to be fed back to management the Facilitator will assist with ensuring that this is provided in the form of a written summary.

Copyright 2017. Positive Solutions: Mediation and Counseling