Unresolved conflict and disputes in the workplace lead to lower productivity, drain staff morale and pose risk in terms of professional and organisational reputation, resources, time and expense. Ideally, adopt a three stranded approach in minimising disputes in the workplace:
- prevent unhelpful conflict arising in the first place: set in place a good appraisal and feedback systems for all staff and develop a strong base of interpersonal, communication and conflict resolution skills; consider sound assertiveness training for junior staff
- recognise unresolved conflict and, if needs be, bring in an independent coach or facilitator at the earliest point to work informally with the parties concern
- address escalating conflict as early as possible, using mediation, before it accelerates out of hand and into a grievance or other disciplinary process.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process for resolving disputes in which a mediator enables the parties within a dispute to negotiate a settlement. It is the mediator’s role not to find but to enable the parties to discover their own way forward.
At Accomplice, we believe mediation should lead to a ‘better future’ for everyone engaged in the process – as well as those working with them.
When is mediation best put to use?
Mediation works best where:
- The main problems are negotiable
- All relevant parties are available to take part
- All parties determine to work towards a positive outcome: A fair agreement is sought and possible for each
- Negative behaviours and reactions are absent or abandoned when highlighted
- Revelations are kept confidential and not used against the other party (e.g. information cannot be used for disciplinary, grievance or court situations)
Our mediation process
Every situation is different and no one prescribed way will be best for all situations. In providing mediation, our general approach is to
- Receive a briefing from the lead person who wishes to commission our service – including the ideal organisational outcome.
- Meet separately with each party to establish the perspectives on the nature of the conflict, the outcome(s) they seek from the mediation and address issues about the mediation process.
- If mediation is deemed suitable, the process for the session(s) is confirmed including boundaries – such as confidentiality and involvement of the organisational lead or other parties
- The mediation session(s) are held, bringing together the parties with one or two mediators present. As well as discussing concerns, parties are encouraged to look for future options. They work towards a signed agreement capturing the main decisions, outcomes, time-frames and involvement.
- The agreement is drawn up and signed by all parties. It includes how delivery of the agreement will be confirmed and any role the mediator(s) with/without the organisational lead might play in this.
- The parties implement the agreement.
- At the agreed key points, delivery of the agreement is confirmed. In the unlikely event of defaults in delivery, the parties refresh or redraw the agreement with the support of the mediator if required. Steps 5 – 7 repeated.
Briefing notes on the process are made available to each party involved. They may (or may not) be made available to the organisational lead.
Accomplice also provides a range of development opportunities for you or your staff to develop skills in mediation and conflict-resolution.