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Workplace Mediation

Workplace Mediation ProcessConflict is an inevitable part of workplace dynamics even in the most cohesive of workplaces. Disputes between employees in the workplace are disruptive and may even jeopardize a business’ public image. Mediation allows you to avoid damage to companies’ image, and reduce costs associated with litigation. Mediation can often produce solutions in a matter of only a few hours.

Workplace mediation offers an opportunity to address conflict quickly and effectively, improve employee morale and teamwork, achieve higher performance, productivity and profits, as well as retention of valuable employees. Mediation is recognized as a crucial and cost-effective tool in resolving some of the most common and difficult conflicts occurring in the workplace, including:

  • Work Performance
  • Discrimination and Bias
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Compensation
  • Termination of Employment
  • Discipline
  • Transition and Change Management
  • Cultural Diversity Issues

Mediations may be conducted on or off site on a case by case basis or as part of a comprehensive Conflict Management program. Mediation is an informal yet structured process in which a neutral third person helps disputing parties to openly discuss, work through, and resolve conflicts. This open discussion often helps the parties recognize each other’s views and better consider how the dispute might be resolved. The parties, rather than the mediator, have the power to decide whether and how issues can be resolved.

The mediator facilitates the discussion between disputing parties, but does not make a determination about who is right or wrong or give legal advice. The mediator guides parties through a process in which they discuss the issues, generate options for resolving the dispute and design an agreement that meets each of their respective interests. When disputing parties are given the opportunity to participate in a mediation session, not only do they gain a better understanding of the conflict, but they also develop a better ability to communicate with each other. In the end, conflicts in general are reduced as communication is improved. This leads to a better workplace.

Managers spend a large percentage of their workday resolving conflicts. Some of the conflicts they may encounter are simple misunderstandings over rules, policies and responsibilities. Conflicts are also created from personality clashes, value and goal differences, substandard performances, differences over methods, lack of cooperation, authority issues, frustration and irritability, and competition for limited resources.

Yet another form of frequent conflict stems from the use of language and individual interpretation. For example, “I need this done right away” could mean stop everything and do this immediately or it could mean complete this project by the end of the week. Without asking for clarification tensions increase and conflicts and misunderstanding may occur. As a result, conflict resolution is an essential skill for the efficient functioning of the work environment.

Many individuals view conflict as counter-productive, however, conflict may be positive and beneficial in that it can clarify goals, relieve tensions, open communications and resolve problems or explore potential problems. In its negative form, conflict can divert energy away from real tasks, decrease productivity, reduce morale, prevent cooperation, aggravate minor differences, polarize points of view, encourage irresponsible behavior (including sabotage of resources or equipment), generate suspicion and mistrust, obstruct communication, increase tension and stress, obscure goals, and result in loss of valuable human resources.

There are many benefits to utilizing the mediation process as a way to resolve conflicts in the workplace. Mediation encourages each party to listen and understand the other’s position; it promotes real communication, minimizes personality conflicts, structures interactions to prevent interpersonal conflict, reduces stress, and encourages mutual compromise. It allows feelings to surface, validates concerns, promotes individual responsibility and encourages cooperation and friendship.

Resolutions are achieved in over 90 percent of the time, with fewer enforcement problems because the agreement is voluntary. Mediation is completely confidential, and is future-oriented. It is less concerned with deciding who was right or wrong than with finding solutions to the problem(s) so that it does not occur again. The focus in mediation is on practical solutions, and on the emotional issues, which may need to be aired even when they cannot be resolved.