6-10 November is Mediation Awareness week. Mediation Practice Leader and Principal Consultant, Melanie Roberts delves into when to mediate and what the benefits of mediation are when there is a workplace conflict, dispute or complaint raised.
When to mediate?
Where two (or more) parties are experiencing conflict, mediation assists the parties to discuss and explore the issues with the aim to resolve the conflict. Mediation does not determine facts and nor does the mediator make findings; a workplace investigation is the process to use when that is required. Where the issues are of an interpersonal nature, as opposed to potential breach of workplace policy, mediation is the conflict resolution process of choice. The mediator will facilitate the parties to focus on the future and determine how they will work together and what agreements need to be put in place to assist them to have respectful and constructive workplace interactions.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Control: Mediation gives parties much more control over the way their dispute is dealt with, they do not have a decision imposed on them by the mediator, the mediator’s role is to facilitate the parties to resolve the issues themselves, and so the parties themselves identify a mutually agreeable solution and outcome, which is empowering.
Preservation of relationships: In the workplace where parties have an ongoing relationship mediation enables them to collaborate and resolve the issues themselves and in so doing maintain their relationship.
Improved communication: In private one-on-one sessions with the mediator in preparation for the joint session of mediation, the mediator is able to coach the parties in improved communication techniques and in seeing the perspectives of the other party. These techniques and skills are then used by the parties if and when issues arise in the future to resolve conflict themselves.
Efficient: From initiating the process, the dispute can be settled within 2 to 3 weeks.
Successful: Various statistics have been given to the success rate of mediation, with most quoting an average success rate of 85%. But it is difficult to measure success in mediation, as success can mean different things. Success may mean mediation leading to a written agreement which resolves the issues and sets out a way forward. Success could also be simply coming away from mediation knowing you have been heard and having heard the other person and having a better understanding of their position and perspective and a clearer understanding of the issues.
Safety: The presence of a third party, the mediator, in the room (whether that is in person or remotely) creates a feeling of safety, so that individuals who report feeling unsafe to talk directly to each other , feel safe when the mediator is present and facilitates the mediation.
Cost effective: Mediation costs less than an investigation and less than losing staff and recruiting.
Confidential: Mediation is confidential and enables parties to resolve their dispute and issues without involving other employees.
Flexibility: Mediation can be conducted in person in the same room, or it can be held in two separate rooms in a shuttle mediation with the mediator moving between the rooms, or remotely via video conferencing, thereby providing flexibility to suit the needs and comfort levels of the parties.
If you would like to discuss whether a Mediation is suitable for your situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. One of our highly experienced consultants will advice you on your best course of action.