How Mediation can help resolve workplace conflicts
Small businesses that employ staff can easily find themselves in conflict situations for a variety of reasons. Mediation can help resolve these before they escalate into a potential tribunal case or litigation.
What exactly is mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process by which an impartial 3rd party helps people in a dispute to explore and understand the differences that they have. This then helps them to come to a mutual agreement in settling those differences.
It is the parties involved, not the mediator, who decides the terms of the agreement. If anyone is not satisfied with the process, the mediator or any of the disputing parties may end the mediation at any time and explore other ways to settle their dispute.
Mediation should not be confused with arbitration, negotiation and litigation. Mediation works best to resolve conflicts at work between employees or within teams.
What type of situations require mediation?
If employees are not getting on, it can have a knock-on effect on their performance at work and even at home. It is not unknown for everyone in the firm or company to be literally infected with a poisonous conflict rather like a germ going round. Relationships with clients can be adversely affected and there can be numerous problems as a result.
Managers in the workplace are normally busy and not trained to resolve conflicts and rebuild working relationships. Many managers find this area tedious and frustrating, but it cannot be avoided.
Employees ongoing relationships at work are vitally important. Workplace mediation skill has never been more critical, as conflict has never been so rampant at work as it now.
What are the advantage of using mediation?
When resolving disputes, the advantages of mediation are:
- Cost savings
- Maintaining better relationships
- A win/win(or”both gain”) solution
In addition, mediation is also:
- Staged (takes a step-by-step approach)
How long does mediation take?
Mediation involving workplace conflict takes no more than a working day. As mediation proceeds, the parties underlying needs and concerns emerge, and the mediator can help the disputing parties move away from entrenchment in their positions. As each party’s interests are discovered, the more likely it is that common interests will emerge. Through negotiations around interests a resolution to the conflict can be reached without the need for a lengthy ongoing costly process like an industrial tribunal case or litigation.
What happens after the mediation process?
Most mediations end in agreement and a mediator will have with him or her a template of an agreement that can be amended. It is no more than a A4 sheet signed up by the disputing parties and is generally reviewed after about a month. Management is simply advised as to whether the parties have reached an agreement or not.
What to look for in a mediator
He or she will be an experienced graduate professional, fully trained in mediation, accredited to a governing body and insured. Mediators are trained to understand and empathise with people’s interests.
Even more importantly a mediator is able to recognise the difference between one party’s position (what they they want) and their interest (which is what they actually need).
No one forces the parties to do anything. The mediator will draw attention to the benefits of mediation, consider the alternatives and be realistic. The parties are given time to think it over. Mediators are trained in the techniques to make negotiations easier and to build agreements and generate options.
How Mortlake Law & Mediation can help
Richard Buxton and his colleagues at Mortlake Law & Mediation can help you mediate solely or jointly to resolve a conflict or disagreement between work colleagues.
Alternatively they can give your managers and staff mediation skills training based on 35+ years involved in dispute resolution. This will enable your managers to deal with conflict in a more creative and reflective manner.
You should note that if a manager is appointed to mediate, he or she may find it incredibly difficult not only to be impartial but more importantly to be seen as impartial because he or she will be a member of the workforce. This will make it difficult for such a manager to be fully trusted by the disputing parties.
Please call Richard on 020 8487 8803 for a free initial discussion about any conflict issues within your company or training requirements involving mediation.