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A negotiation team is a group of individuals who come together for the purpose of representing a specific entity during a negotiation with a second party. For example, the team may represent a business that is in negotiation with a trade union over rates of pay and benefits for employees. Teams of this type are often created during the pending merger of two companies, making the process of combing resources smoother and more orderly. Negotiation teams are sometimes assembled as part of the process of dividing assets during the process of a divorce.
With any negotiation team, there is a need to establish some type of internal structure, if the team is to successfully function. One individual should serve as the facilitator, thus ensuring that the team stays on target when it comes to considering all factors relevant to the negotiation. Someone on the team must fill the role of speaker or presenter, articulating the current position of the team to the opposing side. A proper negotiation team also needs someone to oversee any type of research and preparation of documents that are necessary in order to discuss and ultimately bring the negotiation to a conclusion.
An effective negotiation team will create a set of goals before ever approaching the negotiating table. Those goals should be specific enough to keep the team focused on the task at hand, but flexible enough to be adapted if the opposition produces evidence that changes the assumptions upon which those goals are based. Having a clear vision of what the negotiation should accomplish helps to prevent the process from wandering into side issues that are better resolved in a different setting.
The dynamics between the team members is also crucial. Ideally, each member of the team should be in support of the stated goals, and make specific contributions to the effort to achieve those goals. At the same time, each team member should be well acquainted with the position of the other side of the issue, and have at least a partial understanding of what they want to accomplish with the negotiation.
Being part of a negotiation team is not an easy task. It is not unusual for team members to disagree on various points during the negotiation. This can create tension and prevent the negotiation from proceeding at a productive pace. In addition, teams that are not well-organized are much more likely to be somewhat chaotic and less than competent in communicating with the opposition. For this reason, all individuals selected for the negotiation team must be capable of working with people who are able to remain calm, attempt to understand different points of view, and be willing to work with others in ways that keeps the group on task.
I also think that a negotiation team gives the parties to the negotiation more confidence. The negotiation team is an unbiased party, so the sides to the agreement won't feel threatened by their presence. They might actually feel that there are people there trying to help them and protect their rights.
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