Leadership and Mediation
Resolving Conflict in the Workplace
Mediation seems to be everywhere these days. Everyone’s heard of it, but not everyone understands it; and according to latest CIPD research, too few HR professionals are making use of it.
Mediation is a non-adversarial way of resolving difficulties in the workplace. The mediator is an impartial third party. What makes them different is that they are trained in mediation and they don’t take sides. They help the disputing parties to have an open and honest dialogue and secure a mutually acceptable outcome, a win/win outcome. Mediation is different, it’s about collaborating rather than blaming, and it gets results. Here are a few benefits that mediation delivers.
Everyone is short of time. Whether it’s people off sick, tailoring rotas to avoid personality clashes or dealing with formal grievances, disputes eat into everyone’s worktime. Mediation aims to address issues early, giving everyone the time and energy to concentrate on their work.
There are the obvious financial costs of conflict such as grievance procedures, settlement agreements and tribunal cases. Then there are less obvious ones: absence, stress or the damage done by formal investigations. There can also be significant costs to an organisation if employees leave and join competitors. Or, if they stay and remain disgruntled.
Engaged, innovative workforce
Harnessing the positive sides of conflict and allowing it to take place in a supportive environment fosters creativity and problem solving. It allows those grappling with conflict to reach an agreement which they have come to themselves.
Mediation helps contain and resolve issues within the organisation. Disputes are handled so that no one feels like the ‘loser’. This means it is much less likely that disgruntled employees will want to damage the reputation of the organisation and makes an organisation a more attractive employer.
Restoration of the psychological (unwritten) contract
The ‘Psychological Contract’ between an employee and their manager may not be written down but it is at the heart of how an organisation functions. When communications break down, the employee can get angry and the manager can get defensive. Mediation works to restore trust and understanding on both sides, repairing the unwritten contract.
Increased management and leadership confidence
When an organisation adopts a mediation process, it necessarily instigates training and support for managers. Improving managers’ people skills markedly improves their confidence as they then feel able to tackle the ‘difficult stuff’ of people’s feelings.
Mediation is definitely not a buzzword. It is about getting real results and bringing lasting improvements to the way your organisation works. To do mediation properly takes skill and effort but the time has never been better to consider investing in a programme of mediation skills training.
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