Workplace conflict is inevitable in any work setting as individuals with different views, work practices and values will encounter situations where they disagree or ‘clash’. The impact of these situations can become a significant burden for all concerned;
- Working relationships can completely breakdown
- Formal grievance or disciplinary situations can often make matters worse
- Friction can filter across teams and staff can become de-motivated and unproductive
- Managers spend excessive hours trying to deal with the fall out when they have other priorities
Workplace mediation is a very credible and cost effective method of resolving disputes. The process is voluntary and simply assists people who are in dispute to start talking again, reaching mutual agreement that works for both parties and resolving previous difficulties. As the process is informal, the parties have nothing to lose by participating.
Ashlie Turner has managed numerous instances of workplace conflict throughout her HR career. Ashlie qualified as an Interpersonal Mediation Practitioner with leading provider UK Mediation and is a member of the Scottish Mediation Network.
If you are interested in hearing more about the mediation services we provide please get in touch.
How Does Mediation Actually Work?
A mediator plays an impartial role in facilitating a resolution to conflict. Initially, the mediator meets with each party separately, making them feel as comfortable as possible with the process and ensuring they are aware that the process is voluntary and is not legally binding. By the end of each meeting the mediator would expect to have a full understanding of what each party’s ideal outcome is in order to reach a satisfactory resolution.
Once all preparation has occurred, the face to face mediation session commences by the mediator asking each party separately to share their story. The mediator then summarises each account, focusing upon what the party needs from the other to help identify key issues to work upon. Once this has been achieved by recognising and acknowledging the needs of each party, the mediator can then highlight common ground to provide areas of focus for the future and to assist in reaching a resolution.
The mediator plays a key role in identifying opportunities during this dialogue to assist in moving the process forward. Going through this process allows the mediator to channel the discussion towards actions, ensuring that the discussion remains as positive and constructive as possible by reiterating the consequence of not settling and focusing on the positive steps made so far.
This penultimate stage occurs when both parties’ are ready to share their thoughts on how to end the dispute. The mediator’s role at this particular stage is to help generate ideas and options rather than providing answers. The mediator can do this by asking questions to the parties to understand what they feel would solve the various issues.
Once the options are exhausted, the parties’ can then assess whether they feel they are realistic and workable. They also need to feel comfortable that they satisfy their interests and are potentially win-win scenarios.
At the point of reaching agreed outcomes, a mediation agreement is drafted and signed by both parties. The document is not legally binding but does show mutual commitment on both sides to try and resolve the issue.
Discussion will occur as to whether a follow up or monitoring period is required.