Mediation is a dispute resolution intervention frequently used at the informal stage of grievance, disciplinary or team conflict situations. It has a very high success rate as long as all parties to the conflict are genuinely keen to resolve the dispute. If one of the parties is uncertain or unwilling to enter into mediation fully it is less likely to be successful (often 1-3 coaching sessions will help to diagnose and overcome this)
How It Works
All parties are given equal opportunity to explain what is happening for them, the impact and what they need to be different to resume a good working relationship(s). Mediation is non-hierarchical, confidential and voluntary at every stage. The mediator keeps the parties on track through the process, the mediator does not judge, advise or act on behalf of any party.
Before the mediation
The mediator has a brief phone call with each party a few days before the mediation to explain what will happen and to answer any questions about the process.
The mediator meets each party privately to talk through the situation as they are experiencing it and helps them frame what they want to say to the other party(ies). The mediators role here is to ensure all relevant points are included.
The parties address each other and share what they have prepared in a structured way facilitated and managed by the mediator
Then parties exchange responses and jointly create an action plan with a dispute resolution clause.
The mediator will follow up after a month and again after six months to check in on how the relationship is going and to offer any further help if this is required.
Long term benefits of Mediation
A resumption of previously successful relationships where both parties remain engaged with the employer.
Improved Feedback Loops
Parties develop the ability to give and receive feedback in a respectful way, this is a skill they will find useful in many areas of their life.
Reduction in Work-Related Stress
Stress caused by conflict can be a barrier to fully effective performance. Unresolved, this can lead to sickness absences which can be very costly in terms of productivity and direct costs. A week of sick pay can cost up to £2000 per week.
I can’t face being in the same room as the person I am in conflict with
Mediation is voluntary at every stage and if you do not wish to progress with the joint meeting you will not be forced or coerced into doing so. You might try an alternative to mediation such as Employee Assistance Coaching (EAC).
Surely this could take less than a whole day?
In some cases mediation is successfully completed in less than a day but it is an emotionally draining process and it is advisable to set aside a day where there is no expectation for the parties to return to their work station on the same day.
What if the agreement reached in mediation doesn’t last?
An important part of the process is to agree a dispute resolution clause to deal with this exact eventuality. The parties themselves design this clause and the mediator will help to ensure it is simple to activate.
Why would we pay an external mediator when the HR Business Partner or HR Office could do this?
If internal mediators are trained and experienced that would be appropriate. Without the right training and experience this route could potentially do more harm than good. It may be that the parties will find it easier to share information with an objective, impartial expert who has no ‘skin in the game’ and has no preferred outcome or interest in any of the information shared in the mediation beyond that day.