Mediation in the workplace

  • Do you have colleagues whose ongoing conflict is draining the energy out of your team or workplace?
  • Have you been shocked by a business partner or colleague’s behaviour?  You’ve tried to resolve the matter and the discussions seem to make it worse…?
  • When working with a colleague, manager or senior, do you find yourself amazed that ‘they don’t know how to listen’?

I have heard it all. Over twenty years, all sizes of dispute for all sorts of reasons. But very often, the fuel to any conflict is often hidden from view or forgotten. Layers build (even through kindly managers trying to resolve it) and the positions become even more entrenched. This is bread and butter for any mediation process. If parties could resolve it, they would. Sometimes the only way forward is to involve a neutral, confidential third party.

They listen, listen and listen some more. The neutral sounding board creates an opportunity for those in dispute to start to process the intense frustration that they have reached. Being heard, first privately, then together help to start the willingness to resolve. It opens the door, for an important, if difficult, conversation.

Mediation encourages the airing of all perspectives, supporting the concept that problems arise as a result of a communication breakdown – no one person is right or wrong – all viewpoints are equally valid. The mediator has no outside opinion on the matter.

The listening and empathy available a good mediator offers will support each person, with the aim of finding solutions that work and leave everyone with their dignity intact. It’s not about compromise, it’s about understanding and communication. Once that is re-built, the solutions are discovered by the people concerned.

I have extensive experience in many sectors, over the last twenty years, mediating conflicts large and small to successful outcomes:

“Absolutely brilliant, one of the best mediations we’ve had for a long time, a great success.” HR Manager, private sector client.

Bring the conflict to the table so that people can air it, move on and colleagues affected by the dreadful atmosphere can breathe a sigh of relief.  Employing a mediator offers staff a confidential process where the mediator has no stake in the outcome. Contact in confidence here.

How Does Mediation Work?

What is discussed in any mediation call or meeting is confidential. This gives individuals a chance to find out all about what they are signing up to, before going any further.  It is necessary to ensure each person feels confident to speak openly, in order to  communicate their needs, feelings and concerns, build trust in the mediator, and to consider the options of moving forward to talk to the other person(s).

The Stages of Mediation

1. Initial meetings with each person
2. Joint mediation meeting
3. After the face-to-face meeting

1. Initial meetings with each person: a preliminary and confidential meeting for each person separately with the mediator will be arranged so that they can describe the situation from their point of view, think clearly about ways of moving the situation forward and get to know more about how mediation works and the benefits of using mediation to find a settlement.

At the initial meeting, each person is asked to talk in detail about:

  • their perspective of what has been going on and what’s brought them to mediation
  • how they are affected by what is happening on a professional and personal level
  • what they would like to achieve or happen as a result of the mediation process,

2. Joint mediation meeting: a face-to-face meeting with everybody present will then be held which has three key stages;

  • Outlining your perspective Hearing each person’s perspective on the situation: each will talk for c 10mins with the other listening and not interrupting for any discussion at this point. The mediator offers a summary of what each person has said. This works to allow each to hear the other through a neutral voice and to digest the information more easily.
  • Discussing the issues – Being clear what the important issues are between the parties. Time to discuss and disagree, check facts, comparing views of the problem. Hear new information that has not had any discussion to date. Expressing long held and difficult feelings. Starting to see and possibly acknowledge the other’s point of view.
  • Exploring ways forward and any agreements: Exploring what people want and what can be done about the situation, working through differences, managing conflict, problem solving, preparing for decisions. Testing likely outcomes, describing in detail what will happen next, future arrangements, what if something goes wrong?

Then: Closure and follow-up – Evaluating the session and ending the session, agreeing plans for future contact between the mediators and the people concerned, as needed.

3. After the face-to-face meeting: the parties leave with an action plan; verbal or written agreements made during  their mediation. There may be a follow up call to see how the situation has progressed. Sometimes people arrange a second meeting to enable them to complete discussion of areas not covered in the initial mediation meeting.

After the process has concluded some people like to book a short follow up session, to ‘check in’ about a month after the joint meeting. This can support the changes that each has made and affirm their new way of relating and working together.

Important: mediation is confidential. Notes will be destroyed, the other parties personal disclosures and responses made in mediation cannot be used in court or in later internal procedures.

Contact in confidence here.

I have public liability and indemnity insurance with Towergate Professional Risks.