Managers as mediators…

10 Oct

Disputes happen at work. Then what?

Manager as mediator

Manager as mediator

A dispute could be a serious one between an employee and the company, or a minor spat between two employees over rotas or a prized parking space. In either case, as a manager, you are involved and may be called on to mediate a solution.

Note that when mediating, you are not there to make a judgement or impose a solution. Mediation is focussed on what happens going forward, not on who was right or wrong in the past.

Any successful mediation results from an increased understanding by each person of the underlying interests and desires of the other. Good questions are required in order to facilitate this.

Here are some questions to ask… “What is the positive outcome you want from this?”. After you have an answer, ask “Why do you want this positive outcome?” or “What do you think you will get from this that is important to you?”

Keeping things positive will result in a positive outcome for all parties.

What do mediators do?

Mediation, like all conflict resolution approaches, is a means to en end.

The aim

Everything the mediator does should be done with the desired goal in mind, which is

  • To assist the parties to find the answers themselves, rather than having a solution imposed on them
  • To reach a win-win solution
  • To finish with both parties feeling confident that they have been able to sort their differences and move on
  • To avoid the stress, expense and inevitable fall-out that comes from litigation
  • To avoid future conflict
  • Hopefully, to enable both parties to feel that they are now able to give of their best.

The process

The mediator will therefore facilitate, assisting staff members to settle their dispute by finding a way to resolve the issue themselves. This involves inviting each person to take part in the mediation process, in the course of which the mediator will

  • Assist each person to consider the issue from an objective perspective
  • Summarise and clarify what is said and in this way support each person to listen to the other, and understand the other’s point of view
  • Encourage positive and civil interaction between individuals during the mediation process
  • Stay impartial and treat both parties with equal respect and fairness
  • Rephrase the language used by each individual to diffuse any tension
  • Help them to be flexible and explore creative solutions
  • Provide a clear structure for discussion to take place and for potential solutions to occur
  • Assist both parties to progress through each stage of the mediation as smoothly as possible
  • Assess any impasse that may occur during the mediation process and support each person to overcome it quickly and fairly
  • Step back when the individuals are engaging in a positive manner in coming up with their own solutions or their own terms of agreement
  • Ensure, as much as possible, that items for potential future friction have been raised and discussed.

Courtesy of Catalyst People Alchemy

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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Catalyst Business Academy


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