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The Advantages of Mediation for Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. Often, they can be resolved between the parties. Miscommunication can occur whenever two or more people are involved in a process. They may have differences in understanding, perspective, or temperament for example. If you are a manager, what should you do to handle these types of situations when they are brought to your attention? If you are asked to mediate between employees here are some ideas to help you.

You have to set some ground rules

It is suggested that you meet with each of the employees first separately. Obtain their perspectives on the facts, the issues, the emotion behind the issues, and their interests. Then consider working with the parties jointly or one on one and setting up some ground rules. Work with HR. Determine what you can and should do. Keep in mind that in general mediation is confidential, but there are exceptions to those rules. You want to encourage both parties to speak their minds openly.

Discuss the situation in a safe, quiet, and neutral space

You can hold discussions in your office, in a conference room, or in a virtual space. If you are discussing virtually, you should make sure that there are no recording devices, there is no one else inside the room, and no one is able to hear your conversions. This is between you and your employees. Please remember that a virtual zoom or similar platform will provide you with the words, tone, and visual perspective of both parties involved in the situation.  However, you will not be able to see all of the body languages of both. This is a detriment to virtual mediation.  When possible face-to-face is better so that you can see their whole body language.

Discover the issues together

It is suggested that you work together and listen actively to fully understand and discover the issues. You need to give ample time for both parties to speak. Working together ensures everyone is heard and helps to project a positive interaction between the parties. You need to inspire them to compromise and negotiate. It is better to inspire both parties to explore underlying assumptions. You need to help them broaden their perspectives and work together exploring alternatives that allow them to compromise. Help them consider the impacts of peers, subordinates, support staff, customers, vendors, other supervisors, and external stakeholders. They have to know what is in it for them and the impact on others. They need to consider both short-term and long-term implications and hopefully work together to enhance better relationships going forward.

You should consider a written agreement

They may be able to resolve the issue with an oral agreement. However, consider a written agreement, if that would help the parties memorialize their agreement and be a reference for the future. In some situations, it may be something both parties want to be written to ensure that the agreement can be enforced in the future. A written agreement should be concise, clear, and something that both parties can accept. It should address the who, what, when, where, why, and how. It should be clearly understood. Make sure that it is specific, achievable, measurable, relevant, and time-bound.

Focus on closure

Both parties typically want closure. Be sure to thank both parties for coming to an agreement and for working together. Make sure that you have included any actions going forward. Discuss what should be done to carry out the agreement and how you will know if it is working or not. As the manager, you have a fallback position where you can decide what will happen going forward, but if your employees can come up with an amendable solution themselves, they are more likely to buy into it and stay the course.  You have to let them know that you support them completely and that you want to keep both parties working together and collaborating positively in the future. In the end, you have to check how they are doing and how the process is working. Let them know you truly care about each of them and that you want to see this process continued in the future.

Bottom Line –

Conflict resolution in the workplace has been a common issue. Mediation can play an important role in conflict resolution. It is a learned skill. Consider working with a professional mediator or a coach like Michael Gregory to help you with mediation and conflict resolution at your workplace. If you need help with workplace conflicts, please contact Mike today at mg@mikegreg.com or call him at his direct line at (651) 633-5311.