Mediation is a conflict resolution strategy in organisational settings. It is a relatively new phenomenon. All too often interpersonal conflict, especially harassment cases go unattended or end up with costly investigations (time, money, resources and personal trauma). Mediation offers an alternative process (not instead) to conflict resolution, allowing parties to resolve problems and let go of their sense of grievance and mend broken relationships.
Does it really help?
Mediation is an Alternative Dispute Resolution strategy; it is not the answer to every conflict. Sometimes investigations are the only course of action available. However a two-hour mediation session can create a turning point in conflicts that have festered for years.
Mediation gives people the chance to air their wounds. Intense conflict tends to generate misunderstanding and suspicion. Many of these evaporate when the parties are able to talk directly. Because mediation is not bound by the rules of a formal proceeding, the parties can bring up whatever concerns them most; they are not restricted to those issues that are the organisational, public subject of dispute. Finally the written agreement helps, even if a mediated agreement does not end a conflict; it can protect the parties from further friction and misunderstandings so that the conflict can fade away.
Mediation Vs Investigation
Mediation is an alternative way to solve interpersonal disputes rather than taking out the Discipline and Grievance route for the following reasons:-
- Cost/time – Just consider the cost and time implication of an investigation. How many people are involved – Personnel, Managers, Trade Union Officials, Witnesses, Disputants even Solicitors. How long does the process take to interview all parties – weeks, months? Mediation involved only the disputants and the mediator in 2 or 3 two-hour sessions.
- Privacy – Mediation allows privacy and confidentiality as opposed to the public openness of the investigation process. In mediation strangers will not be listening to the dispute.
- Stress Reduction – Mediation provided a neutral “discussion leader”, soothes ruffled feathers, ensures the sides have opportunity to speak, keeps negotiations going when parties are ready to give up, and seeks to restore relationships between parties.
- Personal Participation and Control – Investigations are run by other people, according to the rules of procedure and evidence.
NEREO has one trained Mediator and access to further Mediation services through the Associate Scheme. If you would like further information contact Maureen O’Keefe: firstname.lastname@example.org